A Look at Mark Cuban’s Esports Investments
A little over a month ago, we covered an interview by Mark Cuban in which the Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank celebrity remarked that owning an esports org was an “awful investment.”
The interview provoked a lot of discussion across the industry, including a response from G2 Esports owner Ocelote in which he bet Cuban he could buy the Mavericks in 20 years from his ownership of G2.
That’s a bold claim considering G2 is worth $165 million compared to the Mavericks $2 billion value. G2 jumped to that in the last three years since entering the EULCS and rebranding from Gamers2.
While the topic of how Ocelote plans to grow G2 into a $2 billion empire would be interesting, a much more tantalizing topic lies with Mark Cuban, who already has investments in esports, including an esports team, ironically.
Mavs Gaming Esports Team
While Cuban bashed the idea of owning an esports team, he already has one playing in the NBA 2K League.
Known as Mavs Gaming, the team formed in the inaugural season of the league in 2018. They performed poorly in their first year, going 6-8 and taking 12th place out of the 17 teams in that first year and missing the playoffs.
Things improved significantly in the 2019 season when the team took second in the regular season, though the team lost 0-2 in the first round of the playoffs and eliminated.
Despite their improvement, the league still is a relatively low watched event in the esports scene. While stats for the 2019 regular season and playoffs aren’t in, it has struggled to generate sustainable viewership. The highest count occurred during the playoffs last year when the Twitch stream hit 63,000 concurrent viewers.
The low numbers may be what has caused Cuban so much concern over owning an org given the incredibly low viewership. It translates into low fan interaction and profit generation, and the need for a team gaming house and 20,000 square foot training facility in Dallas.
While the Mavs may be draining Cuban’s money, his other investment appears to be taking off relatively well.
Other Profitable Esports Ventures
Unikrn, the esports betting company, received direct investment from Cuban and has grown like crazy over the past few years. The company expanded into running its own cryptocurrency and online store with company merch.
They also partnered with much-beloved esports org Unicorns of Love, a pairing that seemed all but destined to happen at some point and has quickly positioned themselves in the online esports betting market in the US, once online betting becomes more legalized.
Now, none of this means that Cuban’s remarks are wrong or misguided. He was correct in saying that owning an org is almost certainly a black hole of money for most owners. It does seem funny that he made these comments given his investment in the scene.
Hopefully, as the industry grows, Mark Cuban comes around to see esports investments as worthwhile, though only time will tell.