WePlay Collectibles And The Future Of Esport Memorabilia

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WePlay Collectibles And The Future Of Esport Memorabilia

As everyone jumps on the NFT hype train, ESTNN takes a look at their influence in esports; and chats with WePlay Esports Managing Partner, Yura Lazebnikov, about where their new collection fits in.

NFTs, or Non-Fungible-Tokens, are everywhere right now. And depending on your social media circles, you either love them, hate them, or still aren’t quite sure what all the fuss is about.

There’s always been a close relationship between esports and tech, simply by virtual of the digital nature of esports. So, it was only natural that eventually, we’d start to see the influence of Blockchain and Crypto in the space.

What’s an NFT exactly?

NFTs haven’t just exploded into the collective consciousness in 2021. They’ve been quietly building steam with artists, crypto nerds and collectors behind the scenes since 2014.

They first became possible when the coin Etherium (ETH) released a new standard; the ERC-721 Non-Fungible Token Standard. If that went straight over your head, it’s understandable.

To put it in simple terms, before ERC-721 was released, all cryptocurrency was fungible, or non-unique. Real-world money is fungible too. You can go and trade in your US Dollars for Euros at a currency exchange for equal value, just like you can trade your Bitcoin for ETH.

Non-Fungible means it’s unique by some measure. Either one of a kind, or part of a limited set. Applying a Non-Fungible Token to a piece of digital art, or even a twitch clip, gives it a unique digital signature – one that can’t be erased with any clever photoshop either. This doesn’t mean other people can’t get a copy of their own somehow, but it does cement the uniqueness of the original – You can buy a copy of Van Gough’s Starry Night on a hundred online sites or more, but the only original copy is at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

NFT’s create a way for artists and collectors to trade digital assets, and ensure the asset continues to maintain it’s value by virtue of its originality. Something which wasn’t so easy in the digital age previously.

The rise of NFT’s in esports

NFTs first started to become prominent back in 2017 with the game, Cryptokitties. A game where you can breed and collect limited-edition cats – each with their own unique crypto token. The ability to uniquely identify original digital assets changed the rules for gamers and esports fans. Now there was a path back to collecting memorabilia – even when it was stored online.

In 2020, two-time TI winning Dota 2 team, OG Esports, teamed up with NIFTY Gateway to create their first foray into esports NFTs. And since then there have been plenty of other organisations, players and teams who have started to dip their toes into the interesting and evolving ecosystem. The Sentinels commemorated their Valorant Masters win in March with the release of an NFT.

With the WePlay AniMajor currently underway, WePlay Esports have announced they’ve teamed up with Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, to release their own collection of NFTs.

WePlay Collectibles

We spoke to Yura Lazebnikov, Managing Partner of WePlay Esports, about what motivated the decision to branch into the crypto world.

“It is important for us to share the joy of owning special products that evoke emotions of excitement and enthusiasm,” Lazebnikov said. “Over the years, WePlay Esports has accumulated many precious moments that can be tokenized to bring value to esports fans and crypto enthusiasts.”

Sharing the excitement and enthusiasm in a digital setting can sometimes be tricky. But WePlay Esports has always risen to the challenge of creating a close virtual community at their events. And their NFTs are another example of their penchant for innovative ways to connect with viewers and fans.

“The first collection of WePlay Collectibles is called Storyline. We dedicated it to the past and upcoming WePlay Esports tournaments and the moments our fans love,” Lazebnikov explained.

WePlay Collectibles first release includes three tokens: the logo token, trophy token and story token. Each token that WePlay create will be a unique one-of-a-kind card that highlights a moment, design element or trophy from their previous and upcoming tournaments.

WePlay Collectibles partnership with Binance makes it easy for existing and new Binance users to participate in NFT auctions on the platform. Plus, there’s the peace of mind that comes with working with arguably the biggest trading name in the crypto business.

“WePlay Collectibles tokens from the Storyline collection will be auctioned on the Binance NFT platform.”

“If an asset is digital, this does not mean there is no need to worry about security,” Lazebnikov explains. “This is why we have partnered with Binance, a trusted international exchange and blockchain ecosystem.”

But isn’t crypto really volatile and bad for the environment?

Well, there’s no mincing the facts. It can be a volatile market. But there are certain types of NFT assets that have already proved their salt over the past several years. Collectibles and memorabilia are one of those NFTs. When it comes to gaming and traditional sports, NFTs have performed well since their entrance into the respective industries.

According to CNBC, NBA Top Shot users have spent more than $230 million USD on the platform. Meanwhile, early NFT entrants OG collaborated with artist Filip Hodas on an NFT which auctioned for $13,888 USD, So, there is a demand among fans to buy and trade digital highlights.

But it isn’t all rainbows and dollar signs. There’s already been talk about the environmental costs of producing and selling NFTs, and it is high. But there is also already plenty of eco-friendly entrepreneurs rising to the challenge of reducing the costs. Coins like Cardano and SolarCoin are already finding novel ways to reduce the ecological impact of mining their currencies.

So, while we don’t think it’s going to be viable for Jack Dorsey to keep making money by auctioning off his tweets, WePlay Esports are definitely on the right-track, creating digital memories of moments which fans clearly want to share.

To learn more about WePlay Collectibles, check out their website.

Avatar of Eliana Bollati
Eliana Bollati
Eliana is a freelance editor & journalist from Australia with a passion for esports and video games. An avid player of video games for the better part of three decades, she began following professional esports circuits during the 2010s. She brings both a player and longtime fan perspective into her commentary on the professional scenes.