It’s a little bit of a coincidence that I’ve had the chance to write about two Boston-based startups that are supporting the esports ecosystem within the last few weeks. Both of them provide an esports coaching platform, with the goal of helping gamers improve their skills while also giving pros another source of income. The first one, Gamer Sensei, made the news because it raised a $4 million funding round from investors to expand its one-on-one coaching platform. Previously, the platform would facilitate connections between players and coaches, then they’d have to figure out how to connect, whether through Skype, Discord or whatever else. With the new round, the company is now building its own software that will enable players on PC to share their screens with coaches. The Gamer Sensei platform now boasts tens of thousands of users and hundreds of coaches, with some coaches expected to make money in the low-six figures, according to Jim Drewry, its chief operating officer who was formerly at WB Games.
The second company is Estarz, and it just launched last week with a very different approach to esports coaching. If you’re familiar with the MasterClassvideos that let you learn skills from celebrities like Deadmau5 and Shonda Rhimes, it’s basically like that except it’s for video games. To start out, Estarz is hosting advanced tutorial videos on Rocket League from NRG, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds from Fog of Gaming, and Madden 2018 from Stiff. The company’s co-founder and CEO, Marco Mereu, previously ran Gameblyr, a mobile game publisher, and Roostr, which provided a way for mobile game publishers and developers to drive installs through content creators on Twitch and YouTube. Mereu, who sold Roostr to San Francisco-based Chartboost last year, told me Estarz’s goal is to help esports teams find new talent, which will be done in part through tournaments held by Estarz.
Speaking of local esports news, two wildly different tournaments happened in Boston recently — Shine 2017 and the North America League of Legends Championship Series — and local journalist Maddy Myers has a great write-up for Compete on why they were so different: “If the League of Legends Championship Series is the senior prom, then Shine 2017 is the hip house party that, somehow, never got broken up by angry parents coming home too soon.”