Millions of Indians assemble virtual sports teams every year, placing their hopes in the players they choose to perform exceptionally well in real-world matches. If the predictions are correct, users will make money.
FanClash, a two-year-old Indian startup, is trying to bring esports, such as sleepy hit titles PUBG Mobile, COD and DOTA 2, to this fantasy sports world. Investors predict that this model and the FanClash team will deliver results, saying Friday they have put $40 million in new funding into the startup.
Alpha Wave Global, formerly known as Falcon Edge Capital, led FanClash’s Series B funding round. Sequoia Capital India, Info Edge and Polygon also entered the round. FanClash previously raised $10.5 million, including a $10 million Series A.
As is popular with cricket and football themed fantasy sports startups, FanClash allows users to compete against each other in several popular titles, including Counter Strike: Go, FreeFire, and League of Legends, by selecting their favorite players and spinning made-up teams.
Tens of millions of Indians watch and play esports. As fans crave everyday fantasy sports, startups increasingly seek multi-billion dollar opportunities. But unlike cricket followers, who can use platforms like Mobile Premier League and Dream11 to earn rewards by making predictions, esports fans looking to monetize their skills and knowledge have not been served before, said Richa Singh, co- founder and CEO of FanClash, in an interview with TechCrunch.
“We only focus on the major esports tournaments. We don’t watch casual games. Our thesis is that the world sees the emergence of a new kind of sport, and when there is a new sport, a data layer and a fantasy layer will be built on top of it,” she said. “These esports have a bigger following than cricket, but they lack data and fantasy layers.”
Singh declined to reveal how many customers FanClash has amassed, but said the startup has been growing rapidly since the launch of the eponymous service early last year, and is clearly the “largest esports fantasy company in India”.
“Online gaming has more than 300 million users in India and esports has reached a turning point with more than 100 million Indian viewers,” Rajan Anandan, director of Sequoia India and Southeast Asia, said in a statement.
“The online gaming market is also generating good revenue and is on track to surpass $5 billion in revenue by 2025. FanClash is taking this opportunity and building an exciting new destination for esports fans with an incredible product loved by its users.”
FanClash considers India as its largest market and is beginning to explore international expansion. It is experimenting in the Philippines, Singh said.
“We strive to be a household name in the global gaming community. On a broader level, our vision is to make India’s startup ecosystem proud by creating ‘a global digital product from India, for the world’ and we believe we have the right ingredients to become global leaders,” she said.
The startup plans to use the new funds to hire talent and scale the platform. “This is why we’re getting our news out there,” she said in the startup’s first media interview.
“Esports has proven to be the next step in the evolution of the gaming industry. This is a global market that still has huge unresolved issues around fantasy and fan engagement,” said Anirudh Singh, director of Alpha Wave Global, in a statement. Alpha Wave Global is also one of Dream11’s largest backers.
“Using data as a moat, we were very impressed with the way FanClash has built its gaming platform for global markets. The company has also shown its execution power in all international markets while maintaining high capital efficiency – reflected in the leading metrics such as LTV/CAC. We are privileged to partner with the team and look forward to helping build a global esports platform,” he said.