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SportVerse Podcast Episode 2

The nexus between Sports and Business.

What’s up, guys? Welcome to the second episode of SportVerse Podcast, the podcast all about sports in web3. I am your host Nilesh Deshmukh and in today’s podcast, I will discuss in detail three big news from the world of sports in web3.

  • I will begin my update with a big news from India – where IndiGG has raised $6 million in funding and I will break down how they will utilise the funds and also highlight who all have invested in IndiGG.
  • My second update is focused on one of the coolest sports NFT drops – I will talk about the the three brilliant NFT/Metaverse activations done by the Australian Open.
  • And, I will wrap up the episode with an update on what Dapper Labs is upto as far as new partnerships and how their flagship project ‘Top Shots’ is slowly but steadily climbing the NFT sales charts.

There is a lot to cover this week so let’s get into the details….

My first update this week is about the growth of Play-to-earn games and how IndiGG is leading the charge to develop the model in India.

According to a November 2021 report by BCG and Sequoia Capital India, monetisation of the Indian gaming market is already in excess of $1.8 billion with more than 400 million people already playing online video games in the country with the industry set to triple in size by 2025.

Last year was an important year in the growth of gaming in India with a new format of gaming because a new concept of Play-to-Earn gaming started gaining traction with several gaming firms eyeing a piece of the market.

So, what are Play -to-earn games?

Play-to-earn games are based on blockchain technology and allow users to earn digital tokens or assets for playing games which they can sell either within the game or outside the game for real-world money.  Users typically need NFTs to participate in these games.

According to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, 90% of the games in the market will be P2E games in the next five years. 

This creates a good segue to India’s leader in the Play-to-earn space. But before we get to that part, let me tell you a bit about Yield Guild Games.  YGG is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) for investing in non-fungible tokens used in virtual worlds and blockchain-based games. The organization’s mission is to create the biggest virtual world economy, optimizing its community-owned assets for maximum utility and sharing its profits with its token holders.

What’s important is to understand that several guilds have subDAO’s for each game that is customised to focus on specific activities and assets of a particular game. While each subDAO has its own rules and conditions, they contribute earnings to the larger guild.

This is where IndiGG comes in. IndiGG is a Sub-DAO of Yield Guild Games (YGG) with an aim to create a Play-to-Earn gaming hub within India.

Now coming to the big story,

Last week IndiGG secured a $6 million seed funding from  Sequoia Capital India, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Animoca Brands.

There are a handful of Angel Investors including  Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, hedge fund billionaire Alan Howard, Nazara Technologies CEO Manish Agarwal, Hungama Digital Media CEO Neeraj Roy, Mobile Premier League CEO Sai Srinivas, WazirX cofounder Siddharth Menon, AngelList India’s Utsav Somani, DreamWorks founder Nameet Potnis, and WinZo CEO Paavan Nanda are also participating in the financing. 

How is IndiGG utilizing the funding?

IndiGG will use the funds raised to focus on “several key areas to fuel platform growth and onboard Indian gamers to the web3 world of play-to-earn”. The proceeds will also be used to expand the team, local awareness of the play-to-earn model, and organise community events.

IndiGG will soon support NFT assets for play-to-earn games such as Axie infinity, Pegaxy, Fancy Birds, Nyan Heroes, and Nitro League before onboarding new games for the Indian market.

It will also provide scholarships to community members “who’ve shown dedication to the guild and potential to excel in a certain game”. This will enable members to rent the NFT, enabling them to start playing without having to buy the NFTs.

IndiGG is being built in association with Polygon (a secondary scaling solution for the Ethereum blockchain) to create a Play-to-Earn gaming hub within India.

Polygon Studios and their ecosystem of Web3 games — including Zed Run, Skyweaver by Horizon Games, Decentraland, and Decentral Games — will ensure new IndiGG players (scholars) have access to the latest releases.

Is the IndiGG funding a one-off? Not really! 

Earlier this week Bangalore based nCore Games raised $10 million in Series A funding to expand its properties into metaverse and non-fungible token (NFTs) as well as launch new games in the Web3 and play-to-earn space. The round was led by Galaxy Interactive and Animoca Brands with participation from Polygon and HyperEdge.

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The second update on this episode is about The Australian Open stepping into NFT’s and the metaverse.

This year’s first grand slam the Australian Open has become the first major Tennis event to launch, NFTs and join the metaverse.

The Australian Open has dropped two NFT projects:

  • One of them is called the AO Decades Collection, featuring six commemorative NFT collections celebrating the iconic decades of the AO. Each decade drop will contain era specific collectables – including a Commemorative Ticket, a 3D Umpire Chair, a 3D Tennis Court and a ‘Legendary Moment’ featuring a highlighted match from that specific era with the likes of Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Martina Navratilova showcased. Fans who complete the set for that decade will receive a “Master NFT” in the form of a commemorative 3D poster of that decade. The rarest items up for grabs will be auctioned separate to the collection, with only one copy of each of the following available including; a 3D Tennis Racket from each decade and more. 

The most prized collectable is a special edition 1 of 1 NFT ticket to AO 2023 to be auctioned, with the winner also earning an all-expense-paid trip to the Australian Open in 2023.

  • The second NFT project they launched is an ‘Art Ball’ NFTs infused with real-time match data- In this NFT drop the Australian Open offers 6,776 ‘art balls’. The NFTs, a digital collectable that verifies ownership on the blockchain, will be linked to live tournament data, according to the AO. Each NFT’s metadata will be linked to a plot of a tennis court surface in a real-life tournament. If the winning shot from a match in the AO lands on that plot, the NFT metadata will be updated in real-time to reflect the match’s outcomes and there is an opportunity for the collectors to win fungible rewards too if any of the 11 championships points to land on a particular plot, the corresponding NFT owner will be given the tennis ball used in a display case and a certificate of authenticity. The NFTs are minting on the Etherium blockchain.
  • And the Australian Open has also become the first tennis Grand Slam to launch a metaverse experience on Decentraland. Users will be able to look around a digital recreation of the Australian Open’s grounds in Melbourne and speak to players and other fans. The event’s Decentraland party will run throughout the tournament and will include challenges for fans to compete for virtual prizes. I have visited the AO Ball Park on Decentraland and it was indeed a cool experience and I recommend you all to try it too.

I personally feel that this is by far the coolest sports-related NFT and metaverse launch and the AO has really set the bar high for other sports rights holders to match all this has been possible because of the innovative thinking of Ridley Plummer, Tennis Australia’s Metaverse and NFT Project Manager, Craig Tiley, the tournament Director and the amazing partner agencies and tech companies that were working on this amazing project.

And in my third and final update this week, I look at the growth of Dapper Labs and how they are steadily becoming the biggest NFT platform for sports.

Dapper Labs, the founders of NBA Top Shot, launched in October 2020 and have sold millions of dollars worth of NFTs since. In March of last year, it closed a $305 million funding round at a $2.6 billion valuation as the market for digital collectables experienced its initial boom.

Top Shots, in my honest opinion, was the project that got NFT’s to the mainstream, however, because Top Shots allowed buying NFT’s in fiat currency, they sort of lost out to other NFT projects in sales because it didn’t adhere to the web3 community ethos.

But guess what, Top Shot’s is back. According to cryptoslam’s NFT sales data, Top Shot’s secondary market sales have skyrocketed by 72% in the past 30 days with $53.8 million in sales. 

And it was all because of their new TV and social media ad campaign featuring Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant, and they gave away first-time Top Shot pack buyers a free Durant NFT moment. 

Dapper Labs have also announced the launch of an NFT offering with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and it’s called the Strike NFT Collectibles. These will include video footage taken at UFC events and the first packs were dropped on the 23rd of January. 

UFC’s NFTs will feature iconic moments, highlights, action images from numerous camera angles, fight commentaries, and crowd responses.

The NFTs would spotlight some UFC stars, including Francis Ngannou, Kamaru Usman, Amanda Nunes, Rose Namajunas, Derrick Lewis, and Justin Gaethije.

There will be 200,000 NFT packs, each containing three highlights, in the first drop. And the best part is that the profits from the NFTs, priced at US$50 each, will be split equally between the UFC and athletes.

 In September, Dapper Labs announced it will be launching an NFL NFTs marketplace called  NFL All Day after this season concludes in a few weeks’ time. And they are launching moment based NFT’s for the Spanish top-flight football league – La Liga. 

To conclude this update, I’d like say that if anyone has a problem with Dapper Labs selling NFT’s to normies, they need to realise that Dapper Labs is an innovator in this field and has created an industry that didn’t exist a few years ago.

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Nilesh Deshmukh
I am passionate about sports and passionate about marketing. As a sports marketer, I have built significant expertise in successfully delivering medium to long term digital marketing strategy for global sports entities and brands like Arsenal FC, Manchester United FC, Chelsea FC, Major League Baseball, Formula E, and AELTC, etc to engage with their fans in India. I am currently based in London and lead India business at Engage Digital Partners.