Millions of Indians each year assemble virtual sports teams, placing their hopes on the players they pick to perform exceedingly well in real-world matches. If the predictions are right, users make money.
FanClash, a two-year-old Indian startup, is attempting to bring esports such as sleeper hit titles PUBG Mobile, COD and DOTA 2 to this fantasy sports world. Investors are predicting that this model and the FanClash team will deliver, and said on Friday they have poured $40 million of fresh funding into the startup.
Alpha Wave Global, formerly known as Falcon Edge Capital, led FanClash's Series B financing round. Sequoia Capital India, Info Edge and Polygon also participated in the round. FanClash previously raised $10.5 million, including a $10 million Series A.
As is popular across cricket and football-themed fantasy sports startups, on FanClash, users compete with one another across several popular titles, including Counter Strike: Go, FreeFire and League of Legends, by selecting their favorite players and spinning up made-up teams.
Tens of millions of Indians watch and play esports. As appetites for daily fantasy sports grow among fans, startups are increasingly looking to build billion-dollar opportunities. But unlike cricket followers, who can use platforms such as Mobile Premier League and Dream11 to earn rewards by making predictions, esports fans who wish to monetize their skills and knowledge weren’t served before, said Richa Singh, co-founder and chief executive of FanClash, in an interview with TechCrunch.
“We focus only on core esports tournaments. We are not looking into casual games. Our thesis is that the world is seeing the emergence of a new kind of sport, and when there’s a new sport, there will be a data layer and a fantasy layer built on top of it,” she said. “These esports have larger 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 fast since launching the eponymous service early last year, and is clearly the "biggest esports fantasy business in India."
"Online gaming has over 300 million users in India and esports has hit an inflection point with over 100 million Indian viewers," said Rajan Anandan, managing director at Sequoia India and Southeast Asia, in a statement.
"The online gaming market is also monetising well and is on track to surpass $5 billion in revenues by 2025. Going after this opportunity, FanClash is building an exciting new destination for esports fans with an incredible product that is loved by its users."
FanClash counts India as its largest market and it's beginning to explore international expansion. It's experimenting in the Philippines, said Singh.
“We aspire to be a household name in the global gaming community. At a broader level, our vision is to make the Indian startup ecosystem proud by creating 'a global digital product from India, for the world' and we believe we have the right ingredients to become world leaders," she said.
The startup plans to deploy the fresh funds to hire talent and scale the platform. "This is why we are going public with our news," she said in the startup's maiden media interview.
"Esports have proven to be the next step in the evolution of the gaming industry. This is a global market which still has massive unsolved problems around fantasy as well as fan engagement," said Anirudh Singh, managing director at Alpha Wave Global, in a statement. Alpha Wave Global is also one of the largest backers of Dream11.
"Using data as a moat, we were very impressed with the way FanClash has built out its gaming platform for global markets. The company has also shown its execution strength across all international markets, while maintaining high capital efficiency -- reflected in the industry leading metrics like LTV/CAC. We are privileged to partner with the team and are looking forward to help build out a global Esports platform,” he said.