Every year, we can expect to find some pretty cool things showcased at E3. Popular video game titles, indie titles, new tech in both hardware and software, VR updates, and of course breaking news for PC, consoles, and mobile games. However, this year, we also stumbled upon something we didn’t quite expect, and that was the team running Unikrn.
Unikrn is a video game, eSports, and entertainment company that recently partnered with Tabcorp to launch a new eSports platform for online wagering. Unikrn’s vision includes becoming the world’s premier online arena where people can gather, game, and safely bet on organized, sanctioned multiplayer video game competitions.
We met up with a few of Unikrn’s team including Rahul Sood (CEO), Bryce Blum (Director of eSports), and Stephen “Snoopeh” Ellis (VP of Global Business Development) and learned more about their background and passions:
Rahul Sood created the first incubation fund for startups at Microsoft and eventually became the global head of Microsoft Ventures. A serial entrepreneur, he founded the company that created the first gaming PC, Voodoo, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard. Sood noted that Unikrn is working with one of the biggest most responsible wagering platforms in the world and Unikrn is excited to bring more engagement to eSports, gamers, and the gaming community as a whole.
Bryce Blum launched his gaming career at the age of seven, testing games for Nintendo in exchange for free ice cream. After a brief stent at one of Seattle’s preeminent law firms, he followed in his parent’s entrepreneurial footsteps and founded his own law practice, which is devoted solely to eSports. Blum explained that Unikrn is looking to grow eSports engagement through wagering saying, “there’s an emerging body of research that if you place a bet on a sporting event you are more likely to watch the event live and watch the event in its entirety.”
Stephen “Snoopeh” Ellis first ventured into the world of PC gaming with "Age of Empires" at the age of six. He first began seeing competitive play as a possibility with the games Eve Online, playing it for seven years, and Counter Strike 1.6. He was also playing a free-to-play game called “Battlefield Heroes.” He eventually found League of Legends, his strong support jungler earned him the reputation he needed to be picked up as the jungler for CLG EU. He remained with them when they were turned into Evil Geniuses. Stephen explained that he owes his career to eSports and wants to pay it forward and increase engagement for eSports. There is already betting happening in eSports but Stephen explained that he and Unikrn want to bring a safe, legal and responsible platform for wagering to audiences worldwide. Unikrn is very conscious of competitive integrity and making sure there is no illegitimate betting happening or match scandals.
Currently Unikrn supports wagers from the UK, Australia, and Ireland. Their vision is to bring their wagering platform to the US as soon as possible. The games currently under Unikrn’s umbrella include DOTA, League of Legends, and Counter-Strike, but Unikrn is excited to bring wagering to even more games, in particular, MMORPGs. “Think about players betting on the best teams going for first bosses in MMOs,” Ellis said.
The Unikrn platform provides access to live viewing, live discussions and competitive odds to gaming fans, and permits online betting on eSports, providing opportunities to bet on the outcomes of matches and tournaments through a range of bet types common in more traditional sports betting markets, including the Overall Tournament Winner option.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever placed a bet on a video game tournament? If not, would you ever consider placing a wager on your favorite eSports match? We’d love to hear about your experience. Keep in touch! Tweet me your favorite MMO, RPG, and eSports coverage and what else you’d like to see!