PlayVS, a startup building the infrastructure and official platform for high school esports, has closed on a $30.5 million Series B. The round comes just five months after the Los Angeles company’s $15.5M Series A funding, bringing its total raised to $46 million.
In general, global venture investment in the fledgling field of organized professional competitive video gaming (more commonly known as esports) has been climbing in recent years. It surged to $701 million over 60 deals in the first half of 2018, according to Crunchbase News research. That’s up 73 percent compared to $403.7 million raised across 53 deals in the first half of 2017.
Elysian Park Ventures, the private investment arm of the Los Angeles Dodgers ownership group, led the round, which also included participation from existing investors New Enterprise Associates, Science Inc., Crosscut Ventures, Coatue Management, and WndrCo. A bevy of new investors also contributed to the financing, including Adidas (marking the company’s first esports investment), Samsung NEXT, and Plexo Capital, among others.
Tucker Kain, CFO of the LA Dodgers and managing partner of Elysian Park Ventures, said in a written statement that Elysian had been “carefully searching for the right investment in esports.”
“With PlayVS, we have found a model that works, built on a powerful platform that delivers an unparalleled player experience and will have a profound impact on the future of youth sports across the country,” he added.
PlayVS has also announced new game partnerships with Psyonix and Hi-Rez Studios, publishers of Rocket League and SMITE respectively, joining League of Legends by Riot for PlayVS’ Inaugural Season that starts in February 2019.
The 14-person company said it is also expanding its markets from five (Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island) to eight to include high schools in Alabama, Mississippi, and parts of Texas.
PlayVS Founder and CEO Delane Parnell told Crunchbase News that PlayVS also plans to use the new funding to scale and fuel the company by hiring leadership in different areas, testing various acquisition strategies and investing in player experiences that are core to esports, such as live events.
Parnell said the Dodgers’ support is particularly meaningful because the group “shares our vision for what the future athlete looks like.”
“One of the reasons we’re most excited about esports is accessibility,” he said in a written statement. “With this new round of funding and the addition of Rocket League and SMITE, we’re able to take another huge step forward as we open the pathway for more students to compete and be recognized in the burgeoning esports industry.”
He had told Crunchbase News in September that PlayVS aimed to build the infrastructure for high school esports.
“This marks the first time students will be able to compete in esports for an official state championship and be recognized by their state athletic/activity association,” Parnell said. “We are the first company to introduce esports into high schools as a state-sanctioned sport.”