This is the full text Pittsburgh Knights Esports Team’ 12/6/2017 press release.
Longtime esports industry experts Rob Lee and James O’Connor have created Pittsburgh’s premier esports organization - complete with team, tournament venue, and broadcast studio.
Officially launching on December 1st, the Pittsburgh Knights have been active in the gaming world since April of this year, signing players for two major competitive games (Super Smash Bros. Melee and PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds). Currently headquartered in Hazelwood, the Knights will host tournaments, live-stream players, and offer the community a place to play, enjoy, and learn about esports.
The popularity of esports (competitive video gaming) has grown exponentially over the past decade and the industry is poised to match more traditional sports in the coming years. This year, according to market researchers Newzoo, esports audiences reached 385 million viewers and revenues have reached nearly $700 million. That number is expected to rise to $1.5 billion by 2020.
ESPN, Sports Illustrated and other networks and publications have begun covering games, players, and the industry as a whole. Many major sports franchises such as the Dallas Cowboys and Golden State Warriors have decided to invest in esports teams. Similarly, Amazon recently purchased Twitch.tv, a video game streaming site, for nearly $1 billion.
Top teams play in sold-out arenas across the globe for millions of dollars in prize money and popular players live-stream themselves playing games to thousands of fans.
Co-owners Lee and O’Connor see a future where the Knights will become synonymous with Pittsburgh sports. “We didn’t just set out to build a team, we wanted to build a legacy”, says Lee. “Pittsburgh is the best… they’re the City of Champions. We want to continue that legacy, that rich history and add to it. We want to prepare Pittsburgh for the impending evolution of sports, and that’s esports”.
They know it might be challenging to win over new viewers, but believe that Pittsburgh fans are worth it. “My grandmother, till the day she died at 96, watched every Penguins, Pirates and Steelers game - and she was incredibly educated and opinionated on what should be happening” explains O’Connor. “I know the dedication and expectations Pittsburgh has for their sports teams and I do not take that responsibility lightly”.
Lee is a South Fayette high school alum who moved to Hollywood after college. His passion for esports, deep understanding of its community, and vision for its growth led him to work for and build some major teams. He began by creating content for
SK Gaming, and went on to manage the Misfits whom he later rebuilt and rebranded as the Los Angeles Renegades.
He continued his esports career with a different LA-based team, the Immortals, before returning to Pittsburgh to realize his dream of creating his own team.
O’Connor, a Pittsburgh native and Marine Corps veteran, created and led multiple pro-level Counter Strike teams from 2001-2012. He coached Team Liquid’s Counter Strike team during their 2015-16 season and guided them to their highest world ranking ever at the 2016 MLG Major Championship.
He then went on to launch the Detroit Renegades (a new iteration of Lee’s old team) with NBA player Jonas Jerebko. In early 2017 he joined forces with Lee with the intention
of making Pittsburgh an international esports hub.
The Knights are both an esports and entertainment company dedicated to winning and
defending championship titles, pioneering new avenues for the industry, and providing world class entertainment to die hard and novice esports fans alike.
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