With investors knocking, PlayVS opens the door to a $30M Series B

PlayVS, the company bringing esports infrastructure to high schools across the country, has today announced the close of a $30.5 million Series B financing. The round was led by Elysian Park Ventures, the investment arm of the L.A. Dodgers, with participation from five existing investors including New Enterprise Associates, Science Inc., Crosscut Ventures, Coatue Management […]

PlayVS, the company bringing esports infrastructure to high schools across the country, has today announced the close of a $30.5 million Series B financing. The round was led by Elysian Park Ventures, the investment arm of the L.A. Dodgers, with participation from five existing investors including New Enterprise Associates, Science Inc., Crosscut Ventures, Coatue Management and WndrCo.

New investors also joined in on the round, including Adidas (the company’s first esports investment), Samsung NEXT, Plexo Capital, as well as angel investors such as Sean “Diddy” Combs, David Drummond, DST Global partner Rahul Mehta, Michael Dubin and others.

It’s certainly worth noting that PlayVS raised a $15 million Series A just six short months ago. Founder and CEO Delane Parnell explained that this Series B was an opportunistic raise, as the company received a lot of inbound from investors to get a slice of the next round.

“This gives us much more stability and runway so that we can hire more senior employees and leadership,” said Parnell. “It also gives us a bit of a war chest to let the team go out and work their strategies.”

Alongside the raise, PlayVS also announced new game partnerships, bringing Rocket League and SMITE into the company’s portfolio. Rocket League and SMITE join League of Legends, which was added to the platform two months ago.

PlayVS launched early this year with a relatively novel approach to the esports world. Instead of focusing on the current esports space, PlayVS realized that there was a huge opportunity to bring infrastructure to the esports landscape in high school. As more and more esports careers are created through investment by colleges (via scholarships) and esports orgs, PlayVS gives students a place to show off their skills and get in front of recruiters.

The first step in the process was establishing a partnership between PlayVS and the NHFS, which is essentially the NCAA of high school sports. Through that partnership, PlayVS handles team schedules, district league schedules, coaching clinics, referees, and sets up an in-person live spectator event for the State Championship at the end of the year.

Right now, the company is in the midst of its Season Zero, testing out the platform with a small number of states — Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island — in preparation for the official Inaugural Season, which will begin in 2019. Today, PlayVS is adding Alabama (AHSAA), Mississippi (MISSHSAA), and parts of Texas (TCSAAL) to the program.

But the growth of the company is largely dependent on states and school districts, which is why PlayVS is announcing the launch of Club Leagues. Club Leagues is identical to the PlayVS sports league product, except there is no State Championship at the end. Still, students who do not yet have access to the official PlayVS sports league can create teams, join up, and play matches.

Eventually, Parnell says, the company will phase out Club Leagues as soon as official sport leagues are available to those players.

PlayVS taps League of Legends in launch of high school esports platform

PlayVS, the startup bringing an e-sports infrastructure to the high school level, has today announced that it will partner with Riot’s League of Legends for its beta season. High school students across five states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, will be able to sign up to play for their school in Season […]

PlayVS, the startup bringing an e-sports infrastructure to the high school level, has today announced that it will partner with Riot’s League of Legends for its beta season.

High school students across five states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, will be able to sign up to play for their school in Season Zero, which begins in October 2018.

Around 200 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada are offering esports scholarships, but without any infrastructure around high school esports, those recruiters are left at the mercy of the publishers and a grueling tournament schedule.

Meanwhile, young gamers who want to go pro are forced to gain a following via Twitch, or hit up all those tournaments and find a way to shine.

PlayVS offers access to recruiters while giving high school students the chance to play competitive esports at the high school level. The startup, backed by Science with $15.5 million in funding, has partnered with the NFHS (essentially the NCAA of high school) to offer turnkey competition through its dashboard.

PlayVS partners with publishers, and lets players sign up, receive team and league schedules, check standings and stats, and actually play the game all within the PlayVS online portal.

PlayVS has a no-cut policy, letting high schools submit as many unique teams as they like. Given that the company makes money from players themselves ($64/season/player), it makes sense that the company would take a ‘more the merrier’ approach.

The company then divides up those teams into conferences, and the teams play to be conference champions, advance to semi-finals, and eventually head to the state championship. All the games will be played from the students’ own school through the online portal, except for the State Championship tournament which will have a live spectator audience.

This beta season, which includes five states, gives PlayVS a chance to roll out the platform to a smaller pool of players and work out any issues ahead of the inaugural season, which starts February 2019.