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Steve Aoki is investing in Team Rogue, an Overwatch and Counter-Strike competitive team. Why are we seeing more celebrities invest in esports?

Since esports has become a more mainstream phenomenon, celebrities like Steve Aoki, Shaq, Ice T, and Magic Johnson have been making headlines in reference to esports and teams. Although esports started out as a grassroots, unpaid, and unrespected profession, it’s gaining traction as something our culture accepts. Documentaries like All Work All Play, State of Play, and Sons of Starcraft showcase that esports went from a fad to an industry that is dominating the world. Games like Starcraft 2, League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) – have risen into professional opportunities.

Steve Aoki and Team Rogue

The team that Mr. Aoki purchased is known for its Overwatch involvement and has placed third in this past weeks Overwatch Open tournament. The CS:GO side of the team is rather new to the ranking but is sure to be making waves.

The purchase comes as no shock since Aoki has always been interested in gaming, having taken part in Street Fighter V at PAX East 2015. Prior to that, he composed music for a character in Dragon Ball Xenoverse 2. In short, the idea that celebrities are hopping on board the esports train is rather exciting, but Aoki isn’t the first one to do so.


Celebrities in Gaming

It’s no surprise that celebrities are jumping on the bandwagon like Aoki. Ice-T has discussed Team Liquid’s CS:GO performance and Shaquille O’Neal, the most famous NBA player of our time, was just one celebrity that invested in NRG eSports. Another notable celebrity is WWE Xavier Woods who was not only on the Co-optional Podcast hosted by John “Totalbiscuit” Bain but one of the contributors for “UpUpDownDown.”

And the list goes on for celebrities who fall into the general gaming category like Matt Mercer, the DM of Critical Role – who had special guest Vin Diesel on the stream for a game. While not all of these celebrities are officially invested in esports yet, they have been bringing the profession into light. 

But Why?

Celebrity involvement could partly be due to the individual love of video games or their understanding of profit. Gaming is being recognized as a real sport and excellent opportunity for people in North America, as it’s been more regular to see in Eastern countries. The fact that celebrities like Aoki are willing to financially invest in esports means that the whole gaming industry is a lucrative investment, not just a fad. It wouldn’t be surprising if more deals like this one came out of the woodworks.

Aoki at E3 2016. Photo credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

We’re not the only ones hyped for the new Zelda… Aoki looks excited at E3 2016. Photo credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

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