Johannes Waldstein, FanAIFanAI Inc., a platform that ‘unlocks the value of fan data in order to optimise sponsorship engagement within esports’, has today announced the closure of a $2.5m (£1.7m) round. This makes it an impressive total of $4.5m (£3.2m) raised to date. The round was led by Courtside Ventures and CRCM Ventures, and saw participation from a number of parties including BITKRAFT Esports Ventures, BDS Capital, Catalyst Sports, Deep Space Ventures, Everblue Management, Greycroft GC Tracker Fund, M Ventures, Rosecliff Ventures, and Sterling VC.FanAI is already in use by a selection of top teams including Cloud9, OpTic Gaming, Overwatch League’s LA Valiant and NYXL, and Cav’s Legion GC – the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA2K League team. This new round of funding will reportedly be used to expand the product and data science teams and round out the client engagement structure needed to support the startup’s growth.Despite the clear upward trajectory of esports, esports enthusiasts still spend significantly less than fans of traditional sports. The latest Newzoo report, out yesterday, stated that the typical esports enthusiast is expected to spend an average of $5.49 annually. By way of comparison basketball fans reportedly spend an average of $15 each. The aim of FanAI is to change this disparity by ‘driving potential for monetization across the entire esports ecosystem’, while providing a personalized experience for fans to engage the most effectively with sponsors.Johannes Waldstein, Founder & CEO of FanAI noted: “Brands and sponsors are flooding the esports industry, but are still struggling to prove return on investment in order to justify marketing spend. Until now, this was next to impossible within the esports ecosystem.“FanAI unlocks the value for our esports clients by providing unique purchase behavior and lifestyle data on their fanbase, opening the doors for sponsors and brands to invest with confidence.”FanAI enables esports teams, leagues, game publishers, event organisers, broadcasters, agencies and brands to understand, to grow, to predict and, finally, to monetise esports audiences by analysing purchasing behavior, psychographic, social and demographic information. With this vital data on board, sponsors can utilise it in order to improve their ROIs (return on investment) with targeted sponsorships. Rights holders meanwhile can turn audiences into a far better monetised asset, whilst the idea is that consumers stand to benefit too from better segmented content.Deepen Parikh, Partner at Courtside Ventures commented: “As esports investments have grown by orders of magnitude, the sponsorship ecosystem remains an enormous and untapped opportunity. From teams and publishers to agencies and brands, the lucrative demographic of the gaming industry has sparked a lot of interest.“Johannes and the FanAI team have created a rapidly growing and scalable platform that for the first time enables all parties in the ecosystem to apply actionable data and measurement to their purchasing decisions.”Esports Insider says: Another considerable sum of money invested into the esports ecosystem, by way of fan monetistion platform FanAI. With the stature of clients already on board including OpTic Gaming, NY Excelsior and Cloud9 the team at FanAI must be doing something right. With this extra funding we’d be surprised if we didn’t see some more big name clients added to that list in the near future.