Former undisputed world boxing cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk and Ukraine-based esports event operator WePlay Esports will collectively make investments $25M USD in a brand new preventing league that was unveiled in December, The Esports Observer has discovered.
On the finish of final 12 months, WePlay introduced that it had partnered with Usyk to create a preventing sport league referred to as WePlay Final Preventing League (WUFL). The joint announcement passed off on Dec. 13, the ultimate day of the WePlay Dragon Temple event for Mortal Kombat 11.
Chatting with TEO, WePlay Esports Managing Companions Oleg Krot and Yura Lazebnikov, and Usyk, revealed new particulars concerning the partnership and the corporate’s plans for enlargement into new areas within the coming 12 months, together with sustaining its efforts in the preferred esports within the area.
The WePlay Final Preventing League “joint funding” quantities to $25M. WePlay didn’t disclose particular particulars on how a lot cash it’s placing into the entire, nor Usyk’s dedication or different events concerned. The corporate additionally didn’t disclose phrases, together with if it is a single-year or multi-year dedication when requested.
“The funds can be invested within the league’s growth. They are going to be spent on the creation and distribution of high-quality content material,” Lazebnikov stated, including that the “monetary relationships are an inner matter.”
Usyk stated that the thought of partnering with WePlay for some form of collaboration started on the tail finish of 2020 when he, Krot, and Lazebnikov began speaking about esports throughout an opportunity encounter.
“Again in November, we have been recording an interview with my promotion firm crew,” Usyk stated. “After the taking pictures, I spoke with WePlay Esports founders Oleg Krot and Yura Lazebnikov, they usually informed me concerning the esports trade and its views within the leisure area. That’s how we began negotiating.”
He added that within the early levels of this partnership he’s “working collectively on the mission” however quickly they’ll “specify areas of duty for every accomplice.”
Credit score: WePlay Esports
Whereas the preventing sport league was introduced at a Mortal Kombat 11 occasion, Usyk expects that different video games can be supported, however the league remains to be in its early section of planning and no concrete selections have been made about which titles it desires to function:
“It will be possible to concentrate on another common preventing video games moreover Mortal Kombat 11. As an illustration, Tremendous Smash Bros. Final is a profitable aggressive sport with an enormous fan base amongst informal and hardcore avid gamers, he stated. “Different titles that we’re contemplating for positive are Road Fighter V and Tekken 7.”
Whereas WePlay has plans to place a few of its vitality and sources into the brand new league, it’s going to proceed to concentrate on common titles similar to Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: International Offensive. The jury remains to be out on if it’s going to help new and rising titles similar to Valorant or Wild Rift.
“We are going to proceed internet hosting CS:GO occasions because it’s particularly common among the many CIS area viewers,” Krot stated. “And Dota 2 stays our mainstream self-discipline, so its followers gained’t be dissatisfied in 2021. As for the opposite video games and the transfer in the direction of cell esports — we’ll see. “
Lazebnikov additionally stated that WePlay plans on increasing its presence in key markets, with a concentrate on tapping into the U.S. viewers. The corporate already has workplaces in Los Angeles, and was within the technique of opening an area within the metropolis earlier than COVID-19 added native restrictions on huge in-person gatherings.
“Whereas we can be increasing our presence in Europe and North America, China is at present in our focus as effectively. Initially of 2021, we are going to open our second esports area in Los Angeles, California. This step will assist us interact extra with the U.S. viewers by means of content material, providers, and options, in addition to construct partnerships.”
Lastly, Krot and Lazebnikov agree that WePlay Esports had a reasonably profitable 2020 regardless of the various challenges that it confronted from the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. As many different esports-related operations (save people who depend on income from bodily real-world venues and stay occasions) have indicated, the power of esports to transition to all on-line/distant play helped the corporate to proceed working occasions.
“When you find yourself rising a world media holding firm, perspective is rather more vital than the underside line of 1 12 months,” Krot stated. “We are able to say that 2020 turned out to be fairly profitable each financially and strategically regardless of the difficulties it introduced.”