The eSports story has a movie formula going for it: the shot opens onto a stadium filled with screaming, frenzied fans, and the camera zooms in onto the contestants, each dripping with sweat due to how intense the competition is.
Then the incredible reveal occurs; this isn’t a boxing match, a football game or an Olympic sprint, it’s an eSports match, and the so-called athletes are decked out in headsets, guzzling energy drinks and totally focused on the screens before them, hardly moving a muscle.
Big Name Sponsorship Seals the Deal
Over 20 years have passed since the first video game tournament took place, and eSports contests are now able to draw audiences that rival those of the largest sporting events in the world, with midweek live streams regularly attracting viewership in the hundreds of thousands.
Nissan and Coca-Cola have joined Red Bull, Logitech and other big brands in sponsoring tournaments, and gaming has finally become what every traditional sports league so fervently aims for, global, young, digital, and with an ever-increasing diversity in players and spectators alike.
The question of whether or not it can ever truly be a sport no longer matters: eSports are here, they are as real as any other sporting activity is, and their growth is impossible to deny, a fact which the numbers more than prove.
An eSports Nation Would be the World’s 5th Biggest
So how big is eSports really? Well, almost 300 million people either watched or played eSports in 2016, according to Newzoo marketing research firm, and this number is expected to jump to a global reach of over 400 million by 2019. This means that if the eSports supporters and players were actually inhabitants of a country, it would be the 5th largest nation in the world.
Popular eSports Betting Types
There are a number of eSports games that have become popular and League of Legends, Halo, Starcraft III and DotA (Defence of the Ancients) are amongst the world’s biggest.
One of the most interesting aspects of eSports is that fans can bet on the outcome of the game, and a whole new betting market has opened up here too, attracting even more attention. Some games offer real money betting, in game play-money betting or betting on objects in the game, or one, two or all of these options. Real money wagers are now accepted by several online sportsbooks and Dota betting and betting on other eSport games has quickly become the norm.
The Popularity of eSports
Unlike yesteryears LAN’s, eSports tournaments are no longer gatherings of 200+ over-caffeinated college students crammed like sardines into a hurriedly rented space for a couple of days. They now take place at enormous venues with actual production value built in, making games far more enjoyable for spectators to watch. Additionally, increased sponsorship means more prize money is available, and this, in turn, has been able to incentivise more gamers to go pro.
Professional gamers are able to take part in games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO; Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, or HS, and League of Legends, LoL, as well as Dota, and earn a stable income as they go about competing in tournaments around the world.
Prize money can reach heights of hundreds of thousands of dollars and, when this amount of cash starts flowing, players are far more likely to practice in order to win these prizes, which make eSports events a great deal more fun to watch.