The future of the Daily Dot’s esports section appears to be up in the air.
Efren Salinas, co-host of Dot Esports’ Twitch series, Best of III, said at the 1 hour, 11 minute mark of Tuesday night’s episode that DOT Esports would be shutting down by the end of the week.
“The Daily Dot is basically restructuring,” Salinas said on the show. “The Daily Dot is an overall website. The esports section is a small section. It’s just one vertical on the site. The Dot is restructuring, and they’ve decided to discontinue, and basically Dot Esports will cease to exist as of this Friday.”
Hey guys, just want to clarify something from the show tonight. Can't go into too many details, but @DotEsports hasn't shut down.
— Efren Salinas (@ElLoneStarGamer) September 21, 2016
Dot Esports hasn't gone anywhere just yet, folks. We'll keep you updated.
— Dot Esports (@DOTesports) September 21, 2016
Whatever ends up happening, the news is intriguing because even if it all works out and Dot Esports remains, clearly something is happening behind the scenes. Salinas wouldn’t have said what he did on a live broadcast if there wasn’t something in the air. (Slingshot has reached out to multiple people within the Daily Dot, all of whom did not respond or declined comment.)
Any news of a potential shakeup or deconstruction of Dot Esports is also striking because for a while, the Daily Dot was the place to visit for esports news. It was where people found breaking news, investigations and deep features. The recent months have seen a marked change in coverage, though, and an almost exclusive focus on aggregation and event roundups. So where did it all change?
The Daily Dot employed Richard Lewis from July 2014 to September 2015 and Jacob Wolf from April 2015 until April 2016, two of the most well known journalists in the industry. During that time, the publication broke many important stories, most notably Lewis’ investigation into Counter-Strike match fixing that resulted in the permanent ban of a group of players from any Valve sponsored events. Wolf wrote about pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli’s failed venture into esports that resulted in him getting sued. The Daily Dot was the place to go to find the stories that mattered most in esports. It was also known for Wolf’s League of Legends roster transaction stories, as Wolf published almost 50 stories from Nov. 1 through the end of 2015.
But Lewis left last year, at least partially, he wrote at the time, because of a ban on his content on the League of Legends subreddit. He later published his work on Breitbart before being hired as on-air talent for ELEAGUE, the Turner Broadcasting-backed Counter-Strike league. His written content now appears on the ELEAGUE website, and he conducts a YouTube show where his investigations are posted. Wolf was hired by ESPN in April.
The time since has seen the shape of Dot Esports coverage change. The entire site, including the esports section, underwent a redesign in June. The esports section in recent months has been heavy on aggregation, with seemingly fewer reported stories and investigations. Just last week, a handful of employees and freelancers (in and out of esports) were apparently let go, based on a slew of tweets.
Plenty of esports websites have come and gone in the last few years. The Daily Dot wouldn’t even be the first to close down this year, as Splyce eliminated its content section last month (which, owner Marty Strenczewilk told me, was about consolidating the organization’s resources into the pro teams). There has also been a consolidation of a handful of outlets by Gamurs.
The Daily Dot is different because it’s had a more prominent role in shaping esports coverage throughout the years. Even in its dampened state, the loss of Dot Esports would still be a significant blow to the industry and a reminder that nothing is forever — especially in esports.