An Icelandic startup is going big on e-sports and the ability of ultra competitive gaming to keep children occupied as they rehearse various games techniques and scenarios, chasing their dreams of someday gracing a big league e-sports stage.
Yesterday Iceland's Esports Coach Academy (ECA) revealed raising a $750,000 pre-seed round for its e-sports coaching software platform and training strategies, and is now clearing the runway to enter more overseas markets, after a strong start for its concept within Iceland.
The round is led by Sweden's Behold Ventures (fresh from unveiling a $25.9 million fundraise for the Nordic games scene a couple of days back.) More funding is being provided by the all-button mashing fund Sisu Game Ventures, and also Icelandic VC MGMT Ventures.
ECA lets any coach access the tools, resources and knowledge to start up their own esports youth programming, in various computer game entries.
The software is sold as a service that enables coaches to take their 'badges' in e-sports coaching, by learning each element of coaching strategies and the focal areas needed to help players succeed. Additional courses include "exercise in esports" and "nutrition in esports".
Beyond Iceland, ECA has struck early partnership deals in the US, Puerto Rico as well as domestically, more deals expected to follow.
E-sports made an unofficial debut this year as a trial sport in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England (a multi-sports contest similar to the Olympics but focused on the former British Commonwealth).
Naysayers complain e-sports is a nerdy pursuit but it's getting pretty easy to argue otherwise, thanks to professionalised competitions and diverse playing squads, with big name franchises like the Paris Saint-Germain esports team (aligned to Parisian football giants PSG,) and the Red Bull-sponsored gaming club OG.
To win, e-sports players need razor sharp mental skills and will make instant judgements with near-zero second response time, while knowing the strategies specific to a given e-sport from cover-to-cover.
Coaches can help, but themselves need software tools to track, patterns in game play, technical changes that might affect the way each e-sport is played and lifestyle adjustments that could factor into performance.
ECA says its software platform has tools, resources and knowledge for "any" coach to start working on a player's in-game prowess, along with physical and social skills needed to keep up in game.
The co-founder, Ólafur Steinarsson, started building a grassroots-led esports environment for Iceland in 2018, anchored in coaching qualifications to ensure children are taught properly.
Today, around 3% of Icelandic children are enrolled in one of the country's e-sports coaching clubs, ECA claims. And it seems thanks to Steinarsson's concept, e-sports is not only trending on school playgrounds, but it's also seen nourishing kids enough to convince parents it's a good idea.
Steinarsson said: "With the Esports Coaching Academy, we’re bringing the same methodology and programming to the rest of the world."