The Future of Esports and DFS With PrizePicks’ CEO, Adam Wexler
Not too long ago, I had a chance to conduct an email interview with Adam Wexler, CEO of PrizePicks about esports. The focus was on how DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) has grown this year in particular, and their expectations for the coming quarter as professional sports attempt to return to normal. This growth in the DFS industry would not have been possible without esports showing up in a serious way during the COVID-19 era.
Does he think esports will continue to thrive post-COVID-19 for PrizePicks, and what are his picks for DFS fans to keep an eye on as the year goes on? Learn about that in more, in my chat with Adam Wexler of PrizePicks!
First of all, I wanted to thank you for taking the time to discuss this with us. Was there a particular moment that led you to think that investing in esports in the DFS sphere?
Adam: I’m not sure I could point to a specific moment, but I would say the interest from venture capitalists over the last few years surely led to consideration. You combine that fact with hearing leagues need revenue sources and fantasy/betting becomes a natural fit. I would also say the original attempts to bring DFS to esports with the salary cap format popularized by FanDuel & DraftKings never felt like the right overlapping audience with esports fans. Our format is much more accessible to the casual sports fan.
On the topic of esports, do you have any particular favorites that you keep up with/favorite teams?
Adam: I can’t say I follow anything at the moment outside of traditional sports leagues, but I was an avid Madden player in my college years.
PrizePicks feels significantly easier to understand and utilize from an outsider’s perspective, esports and otherwise. What sort of lessons did you learn from competitors like DraftKings?
Adam: The salary cap format is reflective of poker and poker is not for everyone. Our game can be compared to a skilled form of roulette, and if you think about roulette, anybody can walk up to the table and pick a couple of numbers. If you want to make money on PrizePicks, it surely helps to do research, but if you’re just looking for entertainment, we can make things exciting for you as well because we want ultimately want you to be in & out of our App in less than 60 seconds with skin on the game.
So many leagues and games have moved online, due to COVID-19. With a second wave of COVID-19 cases likely on the rise, how do you think it will affect DFS and esports?
Adam: I believe DFS & esports is here to stay. I can at least tell you that’s the case on PrizePicks. We always saw it as a growth opportunity, but this just accelerated our timeline for 365 days/year coverage.
The world is going to get back to normal one day though! When that happens, and all the traditional sports resume, do you anticipate PrizePicks continuing esports betting?
Adam: Q2 2020 forced us to spend a lot more time as a full team focused on turning the game into a profitable opportunity. Dating back to our original foray into esports in 2019, it took us a long time to feel fully confident in our ability to set lines. With our current level of confidence, we feel good about the offering moving forward.
While we’re talking about “later this year”, what are your projections for growth of esports DFS in Q3 and further into 2021?
Adam: There’s so much room for growth so it’s very early on, and I believe the leagues need to invest in the fan engagement side of their business to help DFS & betting reach their full potential.
How impactful would you say esports as a whole has been for the growth of PrizePicks?
Adam: It was an invaluable asset in April & May as a lot of our most active customers migrated to League of Legends and CS:GO. We’re also very grateful for Hi-Rez Studios wanting to partner with us during the 2019 regular season of the SMITE Pro League — it has set PrizePicks up for many more professional league partnerships in & out of esports.
PrizePicks has had some pretty impressive growth during the “COVID Era” of (e)sports. What do you think contributed to you keeping ahead of the competition?
Adam: As a fantasy operator and with our format which is conducive to quick adoption, we were able to reap benefits traditional DFS & sports betting operators didn’t have.
Do you feel like there’s been success in traditional sports moving to a temporary online role – Virtual Grand Prix, for example?
Adam: Absolutely. NASCAR has had a great couple months expanding its reach, and iRacing surely played a large role.
In your personal opinion, do you think traditional sports should continue to invest in esports post-COVID-19? 100%.
Adam: You see the NBA at the forefront of this and other leagues like MLS right behind. The trend will only continue.
What esports do you think people need to keep an eye on the most in the DFS space? Are there any that you think may explode in popularity?
Adam: I was pleasantly surprised by our iRacing adoption and it’s easy for the casual esports fan to embrace. Also, CS:GO is a pretty straightforward esport so it likely is a better place to start than League of Legends for those stepping into fantasy esports for the first time.