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Today's word count: 1,480 (~6 mins)
Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
Whether it's the seven-figure salaries or the hundreds of millions of dollars investors are pouring in, the esports industry appears to be doing quite nicely.
Newsflash: Some industry veterans disagree. In fact, 18 of them told Kotaku that they are worried esports is a bubble, with some describing it merely as "inflated" and others as "completely unsustainable."
"I feel like esports is almost running a Ponzi scheme at this point. Everyone I talk to in this industry kind of acknowledges the fact that there is value in esports, but it is not nearly the value that is getting hyped these days."— Esports veteran Frank Field
1. Sketchy numbers: It was widely reported that last year's League of Legends World Championship drew more viewers than the Super Bowl — the kind of headline that could turn even the biggest esports skeptic into a believer. Turns out, those numbers were unreliable, misleading and potentially even inflated, per Kotaku.
2. Lack of revenue: Multiple leagues have shuttered due to money problems and one industry analyst estimates that as many as 89% of esports teams are operating at a loss. Investment keeps coming in, though.
"When you're seeing teams right now raising over $300 million valuations on revenues under $25 [million], you're kind of like, what? … No one's more bullish about esports than I am [but] I just think good, old-fashioned common sense would go a long way here."— Jason Lake, founder, Complexity Gaming (via Sports Business Journal)
The big picture: Investors have flocked to esports because they don't want to miss out on "the next big thing." They have no problem burning through cash if the opportunity is big enough, but eventually they want to see a return.
The bottom line: Any outside observer can see that there is value in esports. But if we are to believe a contingent of those on the inside, it's nowhere near the numbers being thrown around.
Photo: Peter Aiken/Getty Images
Vanderbilt won the College World Series with an 8-2 victory over Michigan in Game 3 of the finals last night, the program's second national championship in four CWS appearances, all since 2011.
The great Bob Ley announced yesterday that he will be retiring at the end of the month, closing the book on a 40-year career at ESPN that saw him win 11 Sports Emmy Awards and immortalize himself as a true sports media legend.
"Across 40 years I have enjoyed a professional journey unimaginable when I joined ESPN on its first weekend of existence in 1979. Each day since has been a unique adventure, one I embraced for the challenges and unequaled fun of a job like no other. Now, it is time for change."— Bob Ley
What they're saying: "When Ley hosts the network's Boston Marathon bombing coverage or captains its all-night wake for Muhammad Ali, a certain image takes hold in the public mind," The Ringer's Bryan Curtis wrote last year.
Baseball has a new process for deciding who will start in this year's All-Star Game on July 9 in Cleveland.
What's next: The winners will be announced at 7pm ET tonight on ESPN and the full rosters, including starting pitchers, will be revealed on Sunday.
Fill out your ballot (cutoff time: 4pm ET)
The Connecticut Sun (orange) and Washington Mystics (blue) lead the way. Photo: M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
From Axios' Mike Sykes: We're already a third of the way through the WNBA season. Here's a quick update if you've been slacking.
Top 5 teams:
Old man Wayne Rooney scored a goal from his own half (68 yards to be exact) to lead D.C. United past Orlando City, 1-0.
"It's in the net! Oh, it's in the net! Do you believe it?! ... [Long pause] ... It's Wayne Rooney, of course you believe it."
P.S. ... Fun fact: Three of the five top goal-scorers in MLS are former Manchester United players (Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Nani).
Kris Bryant. Photo: Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Three years ago today, Kris Bryant became the first player in modern MLB history to hit three home runs and two doubles in one game.
Roberto Luongo is retiring from the NHL as the third-winningest goalie in league history (489 wins).
Answer at the bottom.
"A dentist and a mortgage broker are the brainchildren behind the 40-yard dash tournament scheduled for Saturday in South Florida at the 21,737-seat BB&T Center that features about two dozen NFL players, competing despite concerns they could injure themselves and impair their playing contracts."
"It looks like the United States won't be deploying LeBron James or Steph Curry in the new event at the Tokyo Games, but a podcast producer and a commentator might be able to get the job done just as well."
"For Washington Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan, reminders of rejection are everywhere: in the emptiness of her apartment, across pages of the Internet, on the backs of strangers. The Women's World Cup is capturing international attention, and Sullivan just missed the cut."
I can't get over how good this is.
See you tomorrow,
Kendall "Rooneyyyy" Baker
Trivia answer: Martin Brodeur (691 wins) and Patrick Roy (551)