Amateur esports can still generate big bucks. At least, that's the thinking behind start-up PlayVS, which this week announced that it has raised $15 million in Series A funding to provide online and offline infrastructure for high school esports leagues.
Set to launch its inaugural season in the US this October with schools in 18-20 states, PlayVS will operate leagues for up to five game titles, with two seasons taking place in each over the course of a school year. Students will be able to form their own teams and play most of their matches online, with some playoff and championship games taking place before an audience. The cost for each competitor is set at $16 per month.
The funding round is led by New Enterprise Associates, whose portfolio has featured hundreds of different companies over the years, among them gaming outfits like Realtime Worlds, CCP, and the game streaming service Gaikai (acquired for $380 million by Sony). Also participating are Science, CrossCut Ventures, and Cross Culture Ventures, which boast a number of relevant or high-profile associations among them. With their participation, the list of entities with an interest in PlayVS' success includes the San Francisco 49ers, Twitch co-founder and COO Kevin Lin, as well as the San Francisco, recording artist Nas, NFL offensive tackle Russell Okung, and retired NBA player Baron Davis.