Stephen Root, the actor best known for "Martha Stewart Living," played a key role in two key development steps that led to the creation of the first major esports league in the United States.
Root, an avid gamer who helped Ed Young create the 2016 Summit Series, helped introduce esports players to celebrities and executives.
Root was chosen to announce the league’s governing principles and organization as its chairman. Root also participated in key meetings about the league, including with representatives from Los Angeles Angels’ owner Arte Moreno’s venture capital group.
"You start to see in your travels, you know, people are used to bringing in press members when there’s a major event going on,” Root said. “They are prepared for it.”
The new esports league from The Summit Series, which will launch in mid-2019, is called the Summit Series Invitational and will be in Austin, Texas. Forty professionals from 24 of the top eSport markets, including China, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Canada, United States and Japan, will compete as 30 teams of four players.
The Summit Series Invitational is the first major league to launch in North America.
The rules also include three divisions (short-term competitions) in six categories (as in traditional sports such as American football, basketball, hockey, baseball, soccer, and American football).
The short-term divisions include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, one of the most popular games that dominates the short-term championship. It has been among the top two most played and highest-grossing games on Twitch since March 2016. It has become so popular that the NBA and esports league the NBA 2K League are partnering to make the basketball game version a realistic image of the Counter-Strike title.
“So it’s a shift of the way I think about esports,” Root said. “I used to think of esports as ‘momentum.’ I used to think of it as competitive, which is fun. Now I think of it as business and basketball, and it means something more.”