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'It’s only getting bigger’: Meet Minnesota Røkkr, the state’s first-of-its-kind esports team

On the campus of the Vikings' practice facility in Eagan, you'll find Version1, host to Minnesota Røkkr — the state's professional Call of Duty esports team.

EAGAN, Minn. — Video games are leisure for some, but for others, it's a way to make a living.

On the campus of the Vikings' practice facility in Eagan, you'll find Version1, host to Minnesota Røkkr — the state's professional Call of Duty esports team.

It's video games at the highest level.

"They are some of the best players in the world," Version1 Chief Marketing Officer Annie Scott Riley said. "The Call of Duty League has just 12 teams and so the pool of players is incredibly tight."

Røkkr's primary owners are the Wilf family, who also own the Minnesota Vikings.

Riley says the brand is fast growing, in its fourth year.

"All in all, we have about 5 million social media followers between our players, our teams and our content creators," Riley said.

Although it's Minnesota's team, most of the players are based in Dallas.

"The Call of Duty scene kind of lives in Dallas," Riley said. "A lot of the players live there and these guys all know each other socially. They all hang out so they prefer to live down there."

The players are paid quite handsomely for their elite gaming skills.

"Many of our players do make in the six figures, some of them well into the six figures and then they also have the opportunity to win prize pools in some of the tournaments they compete in and those prize pools can range from thousands of dollars to, in rare cases, millions," Riley said.

One of Røkkr's top players is Dillon "Attach" Price, a 2015 Call of Duty World Champion.

"When I was growing up, it wasn't like a thing to be a pro player and make money because it just wasn't big enough yet," Price said. "So, the fact that it is a thing now and I was able to make a career out of it, and then it's only getting bigger, is great to see. All the new younger generation of kids have something to look forward to."

Price is in his third season with the team, and he's considered a veteran.

"Gaming years is like dog years because I'm 26 and I'm like, top three, top four oldest players in the Call of Duty League, so it's crazy," Price said. "It's a young man's sport."

He still plans to compete, stream and create content for years to come, which will generate even more income.

According to Digital Journal, esports is expected to grow into a $5.8 billion market by 2029. The global esports viewership is expected to hit close to 665 million people, according to SportsLens.com

There is money to be made, and Version1 continues to invest on its pathway to profitability.

“Sponsorships and partnerships are our primary source of revenue right now," Riley said. "We also have merch, we have microtransactions in the games that we play, so players can purchase items for gameplay that is colored like our teams' uniforms," Riley said. "Our owners believe in this industry. They're willing to be in this for the long haul and wait that out."


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