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Road to ICE 2024: LatAm a growing esports market

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On the road to ICE, iGB will prep you for the biggest show of 2024 with this new series covering the latest developments since 2023’s show.

The status of the esports market is set to be a key talking point at ICE 2024, and while in many ways it has lost the momentum of its surge during the COVID-19 pandemic, LatAm is one region that is continuing to show positive esports growth.

Brazil, being the continent’s most populous country, stands the highest in potential forecasts, with Mexico also predicted to contribute heavily to revenues projected to be as high $300m across the continent by 2027.

Esports giants such as Unikrn, Stake and Rivalry are all making moves in the region, and LatAm looks to be on the way to becoming one of the dominant global esports markets with increasing competition.

This is helped by the emergence of top LatAm organisations, such as FURIA and MIBR from Brazil, all of which have the potential to turn it into one of the esport’s world’s most exciting opportunities.

Unikrn live in Brazil

After esports betting platform Unikrn was acquired by Entain in October 2021, the brand was relaunched in December 2022.

Having secured market entry in Brazil, Unikrn is now live in the country. Chief executive Justin Dellario is excited to try and maximise the huge potential of the region.

“Esports betting is quite large in Brazil,” Dellario said in an interview with iGB. “And in Canada, a place where we currently operate.”

Dellario also explained that Unikrn was looking to expand into new markets, but “only when we have the confidence we can operate locally, sustainably, in a way that’s safe for customers”.

In February, Unikrn announced a new partnership with esports organisation Team Liquid in Brazil. The move allowed both Unikrn and Team Liquid to increase their presence in Brazil.

That was one of a number of deals Unikrn struck in 2023, also agreeing a global esports partnership with esports entertainment business Blast in March.

Another strategic move saw Unikrn partner with esports platform Gamers Club, offering custom odds for Gamers Club players.

Unikrn received a blow in October, though, with Entain revealing it was to scale back B2C operations within its Unikrn esports betting arm.

Rivalry’s growing LatAm interest

Specialised esports betting operator Rivalry was one of esports’ success stories in 2023. Set to be a key fixture at ICE 2024’s esports conference, Rivalry exceeded revenue expectations for the year.

Rivalry posted record revenue of $8.7m in Q3, a 22.5% increase year-on-year. The $29.2m of revenue accumulated for the first nine months of 2023 was also a 69.8% year-on-year hike.

Rivalry made moves in the Brazilian market in 2023, with an October marketing campaign featuring esports influencer Gustavo ‘Baiano’ Gomes. Rivalry planned to grow its level of engagement with esports fans in Brazil.

That came after Rivalry secured an exclusive partnership with Tribo, a Brazilian CS:GO content group, another attempt to expand its presence in the country.

Obstacles to LatAm esports growth

While LatAm is certainly a region showing impressive esports growth, the market is still facing plenty of hurdles to further expansion.

One of those comes in the form of regulation, with Argentina, the third-most populous country in LatAm, currently unregulated in regards to esports.

Technology is also proving to be an issue, with the level of infrastructure in certain regions a problem pointed out by Maria Bashkevich, head of marketing at Uplatform, in an interview with iGB.

“The technical infrastructure varies not only from country to country but even inside one country,” Bashkevich explained. “For example, in Brazil, where North and South are absolutely different in terms of smartphone adoption. “The same applies to the payment solutions, as having local payment methods is a must for the region. Only thorough research will help operators utilise the undoubtedly colossal potential of the region.”

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