We all enjoy some good entertainment, and we all have to admit that sporting tournaments and competitions are one of the most popular forms of entertainment there is. Witnessing the competition between two parties, guessing the outcome and routing for the side that one believes will come out on top is all part of the fun. It’s what makes sports so entertaining.
The world of sport attracts spectators, supporters, and sponsors, in a massive way, as it’s a very professional scene; paid players, teams with huge investors behind them and battles played in grand arenas. People get deeply involved in the games, and sometimes even go as far as betting large sums of money, on the outcomes.
Now, it’s no different for E-Sports. But, wait, what is E-Sports?
Well, although it sounds very similar to conventional sports games, and they generate just as much hysteria, they’re worlds apart. E-sports are multi-player video games, played by professional gamers, who compete against each other for large sums of money and the grand title, in front of thousands of spectators. The games require absolutely no physical activity, but rather a great deal of brain energy. Careful planning, well-thought-out strategies, precise timing and ingenious execution is what makes these games, a type of ‘sport’.
For many decades, people have been playing video games competitively. The earliest known video game was in 1972 and was called ‘Spacewar’, with the earliest known large-scale video game competition in 1980, called Space Invaders Championship.
Video gaming became a mainstream hobby, through the promotion facilitated by organizations such as Twin Galaxies, who was a company that kept high score records of the video games. They later featured in the Guinness Book of World Records, further creating visibility for the games. Throughout the eighties, video gaming and small tournaments featured in magazines as well as television-having one show air 133 episodes of a competition between players, who would attempt to beat each other’s high scores, in an arcade game.
However, only in the last fifteen years, with the improvements in technology and the emergence of online streaming, has E-sports generated an immense following. It seems to have become a million dollar industry, almost overnight. With an estimated worldwide viewing of 71.5 million people, in 2013 and raking in $325 million in revenue in 2015, it’s become a video gaming phenomenon. Many believe the frenzy could largely be attributed to the way technology is moving; with almost every person in possession of at least one internet accessible device.
Let’s rewind fifteen years. Video games were played by amateur gamers as a form of entertainment. There was no such thing as paid players and tournaments were only competitions between friends. In the late 2000’s it progressively became a form of entertainment for spectators, who were often other gamers who wanted to improve their gameplay, but also supporters who had betting opportunities in mind for the ‘sport’. From 2008 to 2017 the number of E-sports tournaments increased from just 10 to 260. It attracts millions of viewers worldwide, consists of huge prize pools, millionaire players, hundreds of gaming bookmakers, that thrive on its existence and sponsors that throw out large sums of cash, in support of their chosen team. There is now a large community of people who bet on the outcome of games; such as CSGO betting.
It has gone as far as the U.S recognizing E-sports players as professional athletes, and what’s more; there have been petitions, for the Olympic board to consider it as an Olympic sport.
The E-sport tournaments that attract an overwhelming number of spectators are; The International, The Evolution Championship Series, Intel Extreme Masters and League of Legends World Championships- which attracted more viewers than the SuperBowl. But, who are these professional gamers and what games do they play?
Well, there are three genres of video games; MOBA, shooter and fighter games. MOBA includes games such as League of Legends and Dota2. Shooter includes games such as Counter-Strike Global Offensive and Call of Duty, while fighter includes games such as Street Fighter IV.
Most of the professional gamers come out of Asia, with 120 professional players in the top 500, in the world. The rest of the world, however, are fast breaking into the professional scene; the United States come in second, with 100 players in the top 500.
The dominant age bracket is between 24-27, with viewers coming in, between the ages of 18-34. It’s a male dominant space, with 85% of gamers being male, while only 15% are female. However, the female population is progressively getting involved. The percentage of female gamers increased from 11% to 15% within two years. It’s no doubt that the industry is expanding at an incredible rate, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
What we can say, is that the world of E-sports, may have crept up on most of us, but it’s never too late to educate yourself on the hip and happening. Who knows, you may become the next professional; with a six-digit bank balance. Anything is possible, in this day and age!