We are entering the gaming market through the acquisition of Praliss Enterprises, giving us the opportunity to own one of the world’s leading eSport clubs – Gambit Esports. This will further distinguish us in the industry as we push the boundaries of digital innovation.
Gambit Esports has four teams (16 players in total) participating in the most popular cyber game disciplines: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), League of Legends (LoL), Dota 2 and FIFA. Gambit Esports teams have repeatedly earned world and European championship titles, as well as silver and bronze medals, in the largest international competitions. Among other accolades, the Gambit team is the current reigning World Champion in CS:GO Major Championship, an analogue of the Champions League in football, and so far is the only team from the CIS to have become the Major Championship winner of CS:GO.
The club owns a number of exclusive assets, including rights to participate in prestigious international tournaments, its own production of branded clothing and a studio for creating media content (e.g. promos, video tutorials, entertainment stories, etc.) The primary sources of the club’s income are sponsorship contracts, prizes, sales of brand attributes and digital goods, remuneration for participation in leagues, as well as transfer revenues.
Our cybersport strategy includes marketing initiatives, as well as development of new products for gamers and their fans. To achieve these goals, we created a separate eSports division within the company’s Innovation Center. The head of the eSport division will be Irina Semenova, an expert who has amassed 17 years of experience in the gaming industry and is one of the founders of Virtus.pro that is currently considered to be one the best cyber sport teams worldwide. The division will also be guided by the CEO of Gambit Esports – Konstantin "Groove" Pikiner who becomes the eSports director of MTS. Konstantin has been in the gaming industry since 2002 and has extensive experience in managing and originating successful eSport projects. Konstantin also actively participated in the development of a number of cybersport clubs, including Virtus.pro, k23, Moscow Five in addition to Gambit Esports.
The eSports industry today is a rapidly expanding sector, especially among the younger consumer segments. We intend to utilize the advertising opportunities offered by Gambit Esports in order to further promote our brand, as well as offer sponsorship cooperation to interested corporate partners. Entering the eSports market is also fully in line with our digital strategy, aimed at developing products that lie outside the traditional telecom sector, to push boundaries and innovate. Today, we offer customers more than 25 mobile applications (MTS Taxi, MTS Music, MTS Books, etc.), B2B cloud solutions, data analysis based on Big Data, cybersecurity systems and telemedicine services.
Research compiled by Superdata Research, shows that in 2017, the global eSports industry reached $ 1.5 billion and is forecasted to grow up to $ 2.3 billion in 2020. Today, the interest in cyber games is growing exponentially: according to Esports charts portal (website), more than 5.5 million people watched The International, a tournament for Dota 2, an analogue of the World Cup in other sports, in 2016, while in 2017, the tournament gathered around 10 million viewers. The peak audience of the finals of the World Championship in LoL in 2017 exceeded 106 million people simultaneously watching the online broadcast.
Further research from PayPal and Superdata Research indicates that Russia ranks second in Europe as an eSports market (after Sweden) and boasted a value of USD 35.4 mln in 2016. Similarweb data shows that on average there are 780 million global monthly visits to the streaming platform Twitch, on which Russia continuously ranks second or third in terms of traffic volume. In 2016 in Russia eSport was recognized as an official sport discipline with the right to be broadcasted at all federal TV channels.
Our move to the gaming industry was inevitable as we aspire to be on the forefront of working with industries and technology disruptors that challenge, inspire and innovate.