PlayVS, the startup bringing esports competition to high schools, has finalized a $15 million funding round.
The fundraising group includes some high-profile investors, namely the San Francisco 49ers, the private equity firm Science, Dollar Shave Club founder Michael Dubin, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin, and pro athletes Russell Okung, Baron Davis, and Kelvin Beachum.
Building leagues, rules, and more around high school esports
PlayVS, a company that launched from LA-based Science startup studio in April, has a mission for every high school to have an esports team.
By partnering with the National Federation of State High School Associations, the equivalent of the NCAA for high school-level sports, the company set out to build an esports infrastructure at the high-school level. Building out leagues, rules, and more, PlayVS seeks to bring esports to high schools across the US.
“Video games played a critical role in keeping me out of trouble and helping me develop an interest in technology when I was a kid growing up on the west side of Detroit,” said PlayVS founder Delane Parnell. “Our exclusive partnership with the NFHS and NFHS Network was the first step toward creating a league system that will impact millions of kids’ lives in an extremely positive way.
“Now, with our Series A, we can take all the steps necessary to ensure that our inaugural season is a massive success while being affordable for schools, parents and students across the country.”
The company’s product is a platform that offers game scheduling, team forming and tryouts, and game intelligence in form of real-time data. Partnerships with various game publishers enable PlayVS to deliver accurate and credible stats to its clients.
The startup plans to be integrated into 5,000 schools in over 18 states by fall 2018. This way, it can reach approximately 5 million students across the US, which should be plenty for further development. The charge for schools is set at $16 per month for every participating student.
First season starts this fall
While the exact titles have not yet been chosen for the upcoming season, a news release hints at a total of four or five games across four genres: multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), fighting games, sports games, and action games.
“We are very much focused on multiplayer online battle arenas, fighting and sports,” Parnell told ESPN in April. “We think those genres work, and there will be other genres we expand to as new genres grow within esports. Our entire system is designed to be plug-and-play, so as new games come out, we can plug that game in.”
By bringing esports to high schools, the repertoire of activities offered to students is also enriched. Those who have less interest in traditional sports will now have an opportunity to join the competitive spirit in a different way.