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Today's word count: 1,407 words (5 minutes)
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
PlayVS, a software startup that allows high school students to compete on varsity esports teams through their schools, just closed a $50 million Series C, bringing its total funding to $96 million in just 13 months.
Where things stand: Through an exclusive partnership with the NFHS (the NCAA of high school sports), as well as deals with game publishers, PlayVS hosts and streams matches, compiles stats and standings and sets up leagues to allow neighboring schools to compete against each other.
How it works: "On average, every school has one coach — typically a teacher who oversees the program. After that coach has been onboarded and activated, they go out and recruit students," PlayVS founder Delane Parnell tells Axios.
By the numbers: PlayVS launched in five states last fall and expanded to eight in the spring. The growth will continue this fall, with 15 states using PlayVS to compete in esports leagues, all culminating in state championships.
The big picture: Think about all of the organizations, products and services that exist around traditional high school sports. Things like recruiting platforms, state tournaments, equipment companies and coach management tools.
The bottom line: With esports still in its infancy, there's a huge opportunity to build the talent pipeline that every skill-based industry needs to survive — and companies like PlayVS are beginning to seize it.
Photo: Jeff Curry/Getty Images
"Starting [tonight] at Wrigley Field, the Cardinals and the Cubs ... will play seven games over the next 11 days that will determine the [NL] Central, the NL Wild Card and maybe just the futures of both franchises," writes MLB.com's Will Leitch.
The bottom line: "There is so much on the line between the teams over the next week-plus that it's almost overwhelming."
Looking ahead: The Cubs will host 4 games in 4 days beginning tonight. Here are the expected pitching matchups (Cubs first, Cards second):
INGLEWOOD, CALIF. — SoFi Stadium at Hollywood Park, the future home of the Rams and Chargers, will cost roughly $5 billion to build, per WSJ (subscription), making it the priciest NFL venue by a mile.
SAN FRANCISCO — The Warriors won't play their first game in their new stadium until Oct. 5 (preseason game against the Lakers). But 2 weeks ago, the Chase Center opened its doors to the public for a Metallica concert.
SEATTLE — The $900+ million project to build a new arena for Seattle's future NHL team (debuting in 2021) underneath KeyArena's iconic pointed roof has been underway for months.
Argentinian assassin Angel Di Maria had 2 goals in PSG's win over Real Madrid. Photo: Xavier Laine/Getty Images
With Day 2 of the 2019-20 Champions League group stage in the books, every team has now played one game.
Scoreboard (home team listed first):
Group standings (listed from first to last place):
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images
Four years ago today, Japan pulled off the biggest upset in Rugby World Cup history, beating 2-time champion South Africa 34-32 in Brighton, England.
Last night, Houston's Gerrit Cole became the 18th MLB pitcher since 1900 to strike out 300 batters in a season (see every strikeout).
Answer at the bottom.
⚾️ Home And Away: American Ballplayers Are Flooding The Mexican League (Joseph Bien-Kahn, GEN Mag)
"A recent rule change allows American-born players to go pro in Mexico ... leading some native-born players, fans, and owners to ask an uncomfortable question: Who exactly is the Liga Mexicana de Béisbol for?"
🏈 Eli Manning Was An All-Time Average QB (Neil Paine, FiveThirtyEight)
"The difficulty in finding exact comparables for Manning from other sports underscores how singular his career has been in its ups, downs and, in the end, its average-ness."
🏀 Steph Curry Is Already Laying the Groundwork For The Year Of Steph (Shaker Samman, The Ringer)
"By pledging his allegiance to Team USA for next summer's Olympics, Curry is getting a head start on what's shaping up to be a big year."
Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images for World Chess
Did you know that chess grandmasters can lose 10-20 pounds during the course of a single tournament? ESPN's Aishwarya Kumar on the bizarre world of weight loss in chess...
See you tomorrow,
Kendall "Just canceled my gym membership and bought a chess set" Baker
Trivia answer: Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson