Video gaming has received lots of coverage in the mainstream press over recent years, so you are probably familiar with the term ‘esports’. Nonetheless, if you have never played video games yourself, you might know little about the industry and be unaware of how huge it has become. Essentially, esports is a term that describes professional competitive gaming. The leading players of esports are the world’s best at their specific games. Of course, competitive video gaming has existed for a while. However, it is only now that professional players can earn a living by competing against each other – just like they do in conventional sports. If you are a total novice, as far as esports is concerned, the following information should prove highly insightful.
Esports competitions bring people together from all corners of the world, and many of these people come from different backgrounds. The majority of tournaments feature male and female players, and disabled people often compete as well. For many youngsters, esports has completely replaced baseball, basketball and football, etc. Instead of participating in these sports, lots of young people now pursue gaming careers. On the face of it, this might appear reckless — however, esports is a stable sector with plenty of opportunities to gain notoriety and make decent money.
During esports tournaments, people play against each other in teams to win large cash prizes. These people sign contracts to play for various organizations, just like basketball or football players do. Team members practice together to improve their gaming skills, in the same way that other sportspeople do. Some games were not originally designed for competitions, such as League of Legends or Counter Strike. It was just the case that people enjoyed playing them and began battling one another. These days, many games are developed for professional gamers. Valorant and Overwatch are two such examples, where the game developers help to promote the games for esports prior to their official release.
Every calendar year, there are numerous esports events and tournaments held with six figure (and sometimes seven figure) cash prizes available. Young people are enthralled by these exciting events for the same reasons that people enjoy live sport. The skill on display and high stakes all produces a thrilling atmosphere that captivates people. The emotion inside a stadium when a local esports team wins mirrors that of conventional sport.
Many competing esports organizations have several teams under contract across a number of different games. Fnatic is one such example, which was established in 2004 and currently has teams covering ten games – including League of Legends esports, PUBG Mobile esports and Fortnite esports. Further examples of leading organizations include Team Liquid, Team SoloMid and G2 esports, etc. When esports was just starting, LAN parties were the go-to events for committed gamers. They used to travel to somebody’s home, assemble a few rows of tables with computers, then play for countless hours/days. Over time, these parties became bigger and nowadays, organizers such as DreamHack hold LAN parties in exhibition halls. Tournaments then moved to trade fairs, such as Gamescom, prior to expanding into stadium shows.
Certain countries have even embraced esports as a national obsession. South Korean players are worshipped as celebrities, with spectators flooding to airports and competition venues, as soon as teams depart for events. Esports are advantageous, from a broadcasting point of view, because they can be conducted completely online. This allows organizers of competitions involving smaller teams to deliver quality tournaments, without renting stadiums. The barrier to entry is lower too, because spectators can watch the events from the comfort of their homes. There is no single platform that streams every esports event, however most of them are broadcast on Twitch. People who want to know the events schedules will find the Esports Calendar website a useful resource. This website shows the majority of events being held for the biggest esports games. Virtually all esports events will be live streamed, whether they are regional league qualifiers or huge annual competitions.
The esports stars of this decade are not short of a few bucks. Although professional gamers had to settle for small cash prizes about ten years ago, today’s top players battle for massive purse sums every year. During 2019, for example, over $235 million was paid out across almost 5500 tournaments. That compares to a paltry $13.8 million reported by the Esports Earnings website seven years previously.
Denmark’s Johan Sundstein became esport’s highest earner in 2019. He won prize money worth $6.9 million, after emerging victorious for the second consecutive year at The International with the OG Dota 2 team. Kyle Giersdorf, meanwhile, played for the Sentinels during the 2019 Fortnite World Cup. He dominated the competition, while netting himself a cool $3.2 million in the process. This win established him as a top esports player. Peter Rasmussen, the Danish frag maestro, claimed a Valve Major for the fourth time in 2019, while playing for Astralis – one of the best ever CS:GO teams. As well as winning $1.9 million in prize money, Rasmussen helped Astralis to gain notoriety. He instilled discipline in the team and guided them to the top of the Counter Strike rankings. The outlook for organizers of esports events is somewhat different. Competitions rely on sponsorships almost exclusively for their funding, so this is crucial for the future of these businesses.
As each year passes, the esports industry is growing progressively. Competitions are getting more publicity and becoming more popular. Also, teams are increasing their fan base and players are making the sort of money that would have been unheard of not so long ago. Over recent years, brands like Mercedes Benz, DHL and Pringles have become the main sponsors of big esports events. These tournaments are a fertile ground for marketing aimed at young people, who are viewing considerably fewer conventional sports broadcasts compared to previous generations. Countries in some parts of the world have granted esports official recognition, either by promoting it as a real sport or providing P1 visas to players.