Have you ever wanted to play video games for a living? Well, in the world of “eSports” you can do exactly that, considering you have the skill and talent for it. Teams from across the world compete against each other for cash prizes in games such as Overwatch, League of Legends, Fortnite, and more. And, with the help of streaming sites like Twitch.tv, which generates $155.3 million a year, eSports has become more appealing to many, encouraging them to chase that dream of a career in playing video games.
While it was founded in 2000, the new sport’s popularity began rising in the early 2010s due to games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends attracting many to the idea of competitive gaming. Millions of spectators watched their favorite teams go against one another, like those who root for their favorite football or basketball team. It was around this time when eSports started to be taken seriously. In 2013, President Obama would legitimize professional gaming as a sport by granting athletic visas to international players that wish to enter the United States for events and competitions. This was the first major step to validating eSports as a part of the sports industry that continues to grow in influence and scope every day.
As its popularity rises, so does the pile of money it generates. As of now, the industry is worth around $900 million and is expected to hit the billions by 2019. Merchandise, ad revenue, sponsorships, and ticket sales make the most money, coupled with streaming the tournament live for an average of 360 million viewers a year.
These high numbers may seem tempting, but seriously competing in video games is not nearly as easy as playing casually. In order to qualify, one has to dedicate hours each day to practice, as well as have advanced reflexes and hand-eye coordination. For this reason, eSport competitors’ ages skew towards the early 20’s, making the retirement age much younger than in traditional sports. However, this trend does not go unnoticed, as over 50 colleges are recruiting students in varsity eSport teams through the National Association for Collegiate Esports.
The global scale of eSport tournaments is not without precedent, as many competitions continue to be held around the world. One example of this is the 2018 League of Legends World Championship Finals which will be held at the Munhak Stadium in Incheon, South Korea. The Evolution World Championship, which makes its home at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, is the most prestigious fighting game tournament in the world. Most recently The International 2018, a massive tournament for the video game DOTA 2, was held in the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada, pulling in 15 million online viewers and 20,000 attendees at the event space itself.
As for the future of eSports, it will most likely continue to grow over the years and become socially accepted as a serious athletic sport. With major streaming platforms and video game companies investing in professional gaming, it’s only a matter of time until it becomes a multibillion-dollar industry. One day, we might even see eSports in the Olympics.
by Jean Santiago