Esports: The next gen in competitive gaming
October 8, 2018
There is a new global phenomenon sweeping the nation in the gaming industry, and it is not a new game. In fact, it is bigger than that. It is called Esports, and it is the next gen of competitive play.
So what is “Esports” exactly?
Esports is a term used to describe organized, competitive gaming, and it is something that is becoming increasingly more popular as the years go by. It consists of tournaments where, depending on the game, teams or individuals who are literally at the top of their games compete to be the best. They compete for massive prize pools that can sometimes consist of over 1 million dollars.
Esports has, and continues to hold, a firm reputation with a multitude of games ranging from Fortnite and League of Legends (LOL) to Counter Strike Global Offensive (CSGO) and Overwatch, just to name a few.
Many of the tournaments and competitions are live streamed to thousands through a popular streaming service called Twitch, which also allows viewers to chat with one another while enjoying the game. Though Twitch itself is extremely popular, Esports has become even more popular. It is so popular that deals were made between the recently formed Overwatch League Disney and even ESPN to possibly broadcast the matches on Disney XD and various ESPN channels.
With this popularity, Esports has caught the attention of many famous individuals and companies. In fact, many popular organizations who are in charge of more traditional sports such as football, basketball, and soccer, have jumped in on the trend of investing in the business.
For example, a team by the name of NRG Esports, who is most well known for their Overwatch team, was originally formed by Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov, the co-owners of the Sacramento Kings. The team has some big-time investors, such as famous basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, who is also an adviser for the team. Some other stars are Jennifer Lopez and Marshawn Lynch. The team is now an academy squad for the San Francisco Shock who are a part of the Overwatch League.
The fact that Esports has gained this much fame is driven by its success. The industry has drawn in hundreds of millions of fans worldwide and is expected to keep growing. Another thing that is expected to keep growing because of this is the revenue. According to statistics, the market is expected to grow to 906 million USD by the end of 2018, with that increasing to over 1 billion next year. Esports revenue currently consists of several main factors, the main ones being sponsorship which make up 40%, as well as advertisements which make up 19%. Others include media rights, publisher game fees, and even live event ticket sales.
Aside from them being streamed on several digital platforms, Esports tournaments, if large enough, will often be hosted in sporting arenas, with fans having the opportunity to go and view the competition live.
In fact, the largest Esports tournament attendance ever recorded was in Katowice, Poland, with over 173,000 fans packed into Qudos Bank Arena to watch games such as LOL, CSGO and Starcraft 2 over the course of two weekends. The digital viewership was even more astounding, with 46 million individual viewers tuning in to watch on various streaming services.
Though Esports may be extremely successful, it is not without its faults. The industry has had its fair share of controversy and scandals, just like traditional sports. These scandals have mostly consisted of players taking bribes to purposefully lose a match or even players and fans participating in illegal gambling systems which for a short time would hurt the reputation of the industry. For example, in 2016, one of Starcraft 2’s greatest professional Korean players was involved in a match fixing scandal that would shock the Starcraft community. On January 26, 2016, Lee Seung Hyun, who is more well known by his gamertag “Life”, was arrested for having been paid to throw games. He was eventually imprisoned for 18 months, suspended, and even fined.
Though stories like this have tarnished the perception and reputation of Esports, what has always kept it going are the communities that continue to support the teams, players, and games through it all. Though it is difficult to see where exactly Esports is headed, the fact remains that support is there and the industry shows no signs of stopping, and with the next generation becoming even more technology oriented, who knows? It just might surpass all expectations.
- Fun facts:
Though Esports is believed to have officially begun in South Korea, the first ever recorded tournament of its kind dates back to 1972, where on October 19, students at Stanford University were invited to participate in a competition for the game Spacewar, with the prize being a year’s subscription to the Rolling Stone.
- When discussing Esports players on different types of media, they are often referred to by their full name with their gamertag used as if it’s their middle name. For example, famous Overwatch and TF2 (Team Fortress 2) pro, Brandon Larned, who is most famously known by his handle “Seagull,” is often referred to as Brandon “Seagull” Larned.
- Seattle, until recently, had been the home of Dota 2’s biggest tournament called the International, which last year had a total prize pool of 24 million (Bigger than the Tour de France, Kentucky Derby and Superbowl’s put together) and participants from 25 countries. The tournament also boasted an impressive 5 million concurrent viewers online.
- Team Liquid, an Esports team and organization that participates in tournaments for multiple games, has a website called Liquipedia in which people can view information on different players and teams no matter the game. The website also has a record of player transfers, birthdays, and even tournaments with their brackets.
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