This is my monthly rundown on what’s been happening in the world of Sorare – and there’s a heck of a lot to talk about!
Record-breaking funding raise
Let’s start with the biggie. On 21st September, Sorare announced a successful Series B funding raise of a whopping $680 million – a European record. The rumours around this had been circulating for a while but it was still a bit of a shock when it was finally announced.
I’ve covered the funding in more detail in this post, so do take a look if you haven’t already done so.
Sorare has now raised a total of $739.2 million in funding over 4 rounds. In a growing industry of sports-focused NFT projects, this really does cement their place at the top of the tree.
Earlier on in the month, Sorare added the whole of LaLiga to the platform. This was a huge development, with LaLiga being the first of the top 5 leagues to be added to Sorare (and actually the first to sign up to any NFT platform).
Big news like this demanded a big launch and Sorare didn’t disappoint us, with a swanky live launch event streamed via Twitch and a series of ‘special weekly’ tournaments that included real life prizes, including an all-expenses paid trip to the El Clasico.
As if the onboarding of La Liga and the funding news wasn’t exciting enough, Sorare swiftly followed this up with the launch of their new ‘Legends’ cards just a couple of days later.
Legends is a partnership between Sorare and Kosmos, the sports entertainment group led by Gerard Piqué (who is also an advisor and investor in Sorare). Over the coming weeks, 50 of biggest legends in the history of football will be added to the platform, with specially designed cards.
This is a pivot towards the collector community, and that’s evident in the way that these cards have been pitched, with retro card designs and nicely produced videos to launch each Legend.
The cards will have some utility as well, but this will be restricted to a once-a-month ‘special weekly’ event where the Legend will take on the score of the highest scoring player from their club in their position.
This is a clever marketing move from Sorare and has helped to push the marketing momentum in September, alongside the other announcements. Personally, I’m not interested in these cards but that doesn’t matter. The more ‘types’ of cards available and different ways to play the game that Sorare can offer us, the larger their potential target market becomes.
If you want to better understand what Sorare hope to achieve from Legends, make sure you read their Medium post.
Other club launches
As well as the launch of LaLiga and the Legends cards, we had a number of new and returning clubs hitting the platform during September.
New clubs included Vélez Sarsfield from Argentina, Los Pumas from Mexico and Club Universitario from Peru. We’ve been told that the South American theme will continue into October with Corinthians due to join on 5th October. Sorare really is a global game.
Returning clubs included River Plate, Sporting Lisbon and Porto, plus a raft of French clubs: PSG, Marseille, Lyon and Saint-Étienne. I’m sure the whole of Ligue 1 can’t be too far away now… surely?
The Sorare ecosystem continueD to expand
One of the thing that sets Sorare apart from any other platform I’ve been involved in is the portability of the cards, meaning that the cards can be used on a plethora of side platforms. This adds to the utility of the cards and helps to underpin their value.
At the start of September we saw big news from SorareData – a $700,000 funding raise to help grow the platform to support Sorare users and to explore new possibilities for companion apps for other play-to-earn games.
Then, at the end of September, we had the launch of the new free-to-play Sorare Academy game ‘Ignition’ via Fantasy Football Scout. After the success of the One Shot League last season, it’s great to see another free-to-play game enter the space, and particularly coming from something with the reach of Fantasy Football Scout (225,000 followers on Twitter). Admittedly the current UI for the game is less than intuitive but hopefully that’s something they can work on and improve.
Some other changes
Aside from the big announcements, Sorare ticked a few other things off the list in September:
- New staff – they added Kiana Davari as their new Head of People and Sylvain Utard as their new Head of Engineering. This fill two key posts for Sorare and brings in people with a huge amount of experience in their respective fields (Kiana was previously at Facebook and Lyft, while Sylvain was at tech company Algolia for 7 years).
- Improved onboarding – I’ve not seen the changes they’ve made but they’ve apparently improved the onboarding process for new managers.
- New feedback mechanism – managers have been invited to join focus groups to feedback on new features. You can register your interest for this through a simple online form.
- Better help for managers – Sorare launched a new help centre on the website and got through a backlog of support tickets, meaning that support should be almost instant in most cases now.
These little changes all add up and are crucial in ensuring that the platform has the necessary infrastructure to support the increased interest that the additional marketing will bring.
There was one surprising change as well – they unlocked the Rookie League permanently. Presumably this came off the back of feedback that the previous limit of 8 gameweeks was off-putting to new managers.
This has had a mixed response, with some people arguing that it’s ‘unfair’ that managers with big galleries can pit themselves against complete newbies in the Rookie league now. This is of course more of an issue because managers can still use a Common card in Division 4, making Common goalkeepers pretty damn valuable. If (or when) Commons are removed from Division 4, I think this will cease to be an issue.
What didn’t change?
Not everything moved forward in September.
The new game design that we had been promised for the summer didn’t materialise. We had been told to expect a ‘progression bar’ to replace the current ETH threshold rewards, and it looks like that is still part of the plan, but this has been delayed as they continue to work on the finer details.
Personally I’m fine with the delay as I’d rather they spend a bit longer on it than rush something out too quickly. I don’t think we should underestimate how big a change this could be, especially given how many more managers there are on the platform now, compared to the last time they made any significant changes like this.
Issues with the dynamic rewards and the reward tiers in particular are still a problem, with Dan from Sorare saying that this is a priority for the team for the coming weeks:
Getting this [right] remains at the very top of our priority list. For the next week we will be focussing on tiers and our valuation system. We are fully aware of the current issues in the current Game Weeks. We thank you for your feedback and patience while we improve your experience.
Unfortunately the problems with website stability haven’t completely gone away either. The website went down completely in the early hours of the 25th September and the outage lasted several hours, causing a lot of frustration for managers (especially as auctions continued to run as normal during this period). This was due to problem with a service provider, rather than Sorare itself, but the delayed response was an indication that the team (and internal processes) still need to grow to catch up with the $4.3 billion valuation of the company.
As I’ve said before, it’s important to remember how early we still are – this isn’t a polished product yet – but I can fully appreciate the frustration of managers when things like this interfere with their enjoyment of Sorare.
Sales volume and manager Numbers
As I said last month, it’s harder to give any concrete figures for sales volume since the Layer 2 changes meant that sites like DappRadar stopped tracking this. However, from looking at figures tracked by SorareData during the month, I’m pretty confident that Sorare are not far off smashing the trading records that were set in March this year.
Looking at that graph, the income that Sorare has made from auctions in September alone must be somewhere near the 5,000 ETH mark (roughly £11 million). Incredible.
The number of managers with at least one blockchain card has skyrocketed during the month, from 29,988 on 1st September to 41,485 today. That’s a 38% jump and is by far the biggest rise in a month since Sorare began. The marketing push is definitely working!
I think one of the reasons that the marketing is working so well is because Sorare got the sequencing right. Sorting out the move to Layer 2 first and then adding the Limited cards before pushing the product out to the masses was absolutely the right thing to do. It’s the Limited cards that are driving the auctions as much as anything else now, largely because they have helped to reduce the price barrier for people wanting to get started on Sorare (or for existing managers who want to hold a collection of the best players but can’t afford the Rare versions).
Of course the flipside to this is that the increased demand for Limited cards means their prices are now creeping ever higher – particularly in-form players and goalkeepers. I think there is likely to be a slight correction at some point but hopefully it also leads to a rebound for the Rare/Super Rare market, where cards are looking relatively under-priced now, although I imagine some managers may be holding off purchasing cards until the question around the new game design is settled.
And how did I do?
My team had a slightly disappointing month but it wasn’t a complete bust. I struggled a bit to hit the ETH thresholds (which is unusual for me) and only managed 0.09 in ETH rewards during the month (about £200).
I won a couple of Tier 3 Rares and one Tier 2:
I’ve kept Laursen for now and sold the other cards for a total of 0.135 ETH (about £300).
I sold a few other players from my roster and added some new youngsters to the squad, including these guys:
….and I still didn’t withdraw any money! Maybe next month?
Let’s see if October can be as exciting for Sorare as September was. They sure have set the bar high this time…
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