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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The esports industry figured out how to create crossover stars and form partnerships with major leagues. Some organizations are even diving into content. Yet, no one has been able to create the industry's equivalent of Little League Baseball.

The problem: No matter a player's skill level, marketability is just as essential for turning pro. Without it, great players can be overlooked. When great players are overlooked, the industry loses.

  • Put it this way: The Patriots never find Tom Brady without NCAA football. Can you imagine the NFL without Tom Brady?
  • "This is the only competition where that's true," Shawn Smith, CEO of Harena Data tells Axios. "Players have quit esports altogether because of that."

The big picture: The same infrastructure esports is trying to create already exists in traditional sports. The industry just hasn't figured out how to copy it yet.

  • "We need some analog of Little League Baseball. It's really a broader initiative," Cloud9 gaming's president Dan Fiden tells Axios. "In traditional sports, that infrastructure gets folded into schools. In a perfect world, ours might too."

Driving the news: That infrastructure is coming and it's happening right now.

  • Cloud9's "Path to Pro" is taking its first steps with the goal of creating esports communities where gamers can team up and play together under actual coaches.
  • Denmark's Ministry of Culture just developed a plan to build out the grassroots infrastructure that includes a panel tackling issues in seven key areas native to esports.
  • Harena Data created the GyoScore beta system where players are able to register their scores and results from different esports for pro scouts to evaluate.

The bottom line: Esports has been able to build immense value without a proper professional path. Once a true pipeline is built, the industry's growth could skyrocket.

Go deeper: Esports eyes high schools, colleges as talent pipeline

Go deeper

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.

Updated 13 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona GOP's private recount of 2020 election confirms Biden's win

Contractors working on behalf of the GOP examine and recount 2020 ballots at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix in May. Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

In an odd coda to the 2020 election, private contractors conducting a GOP-commissioned recount in Arizona confirmed President Biden’s win in Maricopa County.

Why it matters: The unofficial, party-driven recount has been heavily covered on cable news as part of former President Trump's continued effort to sow doubt about the election result.

Del Rio bridge camp empty following Haitian migrant surge

A boy bathes himself in a jug of water inside a migrant camp at the U.S.-Mexico border on Sept. 21 in Del Rio, Texas. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The last migrants camping under the Del Rio International Bridge, which connects Texas and Mexico, departed on Friday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced during a White House press briefing.

Driving the news: Thousands of migrants, mostly from Haiti, had arrived to the makeshift camp after crossing the southern border seeking asylum. Roughly 1,800 migrants will now head to U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing centers.