Zach Hyman made it to the highest level of professional hockey and is a published children's book author. Now he's hoping to help create some stars in the esports game.
The Toronto Maple Leafs forward is preparing to launch his own esports company, called E11 or Eleven Gaming, and has been unveiling his roster of gamers joining the team this week.
"[Esports] is a growing and developing industry," Hyman said. "I met with a couple of different esports companies to gauge interest in investing in something I like and thought was going to grow I didn't really find one that suited me, so I decided to go out and start my own thing."
Hyman is initially investing his money to sponsor players in Fortnite, which has become an online video game phenomenon, including among pro athletes. As of Wednesday, he announced four of the nine team members who his company will send to TwitchCon, a $1.8 million tournament in San Jose, California from Oct. 26-28.
"We're starting in Fortnite," Hyman said. "That's a game I've played, and … it kind of exploded. For us, I think it's a great game for us to start in."
The company's goal is to invest in successful gamers, who will bring back prize money at tournaments and earn sponsorship money. They hope to grow through their players' success, on social media, and through Twitch, an online platform where people can watch gamers play.
"People watch other people play on Twitch," Hyman said. "We can capitalize on that stuff and help our players build their brands and facilitate growth. In turn, it helps grow our brand as well."
Hyman grew up playing video games with his four younger brothers in Toronto, and has been researching the booming esports industry for a few years. He teamed up with friend Oliver Silverstein, who he named chief operating officer of E11. Silverstein spent three years at WorldGaming and 11 months as the president of 3six5 Influence, an esports marketing agency.
"[Silverstein's] worked in the esports space for three or four years now and knew the lay of the land," Hyman said. "That's sort of how it came about."
The remaining five members of the E11 team will be unveiled before the site's official launch Oct. 26.
NHL.com correspondent Dave McCarthy contributed to this report.