OAKLAND, Calif. - The Golden State Warriors believe they have discovered a golden opportunity.
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Recently, the reigning NBA Champions formed a professional gaming team called the Golden Guardians, and invested over $13 million into what they consider a booming industry with an expected audience of over 385 million in 2017.
The Golden Guardians will compete in the North America League of Legends Championship Series, and they'll have the only roster comprised exclusively of American gamers. A rarity in an industry that is dominated by international players.
"It's an opportunity to reach a whole demographic of people who love this sort of thing, who live online, have online communities," said vice president of GSW Ventures Kirk Lacob. "We can really bridge the gap here."
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To form the team, the Warriors recruited a squad of pros ranging from 17-25 years of age, signed them to contracts, and put them up in a house. They have coaches, meal plans, stretching routines, and a practice schedule.
Playing video games for a living sounds like fun, but it's serious business. League of Legends is the most popular game in the world with over 100 million monthly users and over 43 million unique viewers watched last year's finals alone.
"Esports is a hot term right now," Lacob said. "We know we don't know everything. We're excited to continue to learn and see other ways that this can be a moneymaker and just really grow as a global sport."
The Warriors hope to host a championship at the Chase Center someday. But first, they have to find the Stephen Curry of the keyboard.
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