Esports tournament platform Challengermode has teamed up with web browser Opera GX to create what it claims is the world’s first grassroots esports fund.
The aim is to ‘accelerate the growth’ of small emerging esports organisers – so communities and tournaments run primarily by volunteers on a small scale aimed at the semi-professional or lower skill levels.
The fund is focused on reaching players in the UK, Germany and the US, but organisations worldwide can apply.
The initial round will allow organisers in Valorant, CSGO, League of Legends and Teamfight Tactics to apply for a total of $30,000 in prize pool funding from Opera GX and Challengermode.
Challengermode says this will essentially facilitate the creation of local sports clubs for esports, allowing organisers to better set up tournaments and competitions.
Grassroots teams and organisations that run tournaments are also eligible to apply for funding.
The fund hopes to foster growth in grassroots gaming communities, to allow them to scale up and cut costs ‘while simultaneously providing them with a scalable platform to reduce overheads’.
Rather than focusing on providing a path to pro for individual players, Challengermode and Opera GX’s offering is focused on the ground level infrastructure.
Philip Hübner, chief business development officer at Challengermode, said: “Grassroots esports communities act as the introduction to esports for thousands of players around the world. But because of the evolving nature of the esports space local and third-party efforts organisations are often fragmented, underfunded and lack the polish you’d expect from an established sport.
“These are pain points we want to eliminate with this fund, empowering esports organizers to easily create their own dedicated space for their community, reducing their costs and giving players a respectable prize pool.”
Maciej Kocemba, product director of Opera GX, added: “Opera GX has a long association as a browser of choice to complement gaming, so partnering with Challengermode to encourage the next generation of esports players is a natural fit for us.
“So much of the money and attention in the esports industry orbits around the very top tier of competition, with little trickling down to the grassroots level. We want this fund to give grassroots organisations real staying power, making them institutions similar to existing local sports clubs.”
The application period starts today and will remain open throughout the duration of the three-month campaign.
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
As a long-time gamer having first picked up the NES controller in the late ’80s, he has written for a range of publications including GamesTM, Nintendo Official Magazine, industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games and others. He worked as head of content for the British Esports Association up until February 2021, when he stepped back to work full-time on Esports News UK and as an esports consultant helping brands and businesses better understand the industry.