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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

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Our make-believe economy is here to stay

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Reserve and global central banks are remaking the world's economy in an effort to save it, but have created something of a monster.

Why it matters: The Fed-driven economy relies on the creation of trillions of dollars — literally out of thin air — that are used to purchase bonds and push money into a pandemic-ravaged economy that has long been dependent on free cash and is only growing more addicted.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Why Trump may still fire Barr

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Attorney General Barr may be fired or resign, as President Trump seethes about Barr's statement this week that no widespread voter fraud has been found.

Behind the scenes: A source familiar with the president's thinking tells Axios that Trump remains frustrated with what he sees as the lack of a vigorous investigation into his election conspiracy theories.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - World

Scoop: Trump's spy chief plans dire China warning

Xi Jinping reviews troops during a military parade in Beijing last year. Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Thursday will publicly warn that China's threat to the U.S. is a defining issue of our time, a senior administration official tells Axios.

Why it matters: It's exceedingly rare for the head of the U.S. intelligence community to make public accusations about a rival power.