The big question here

The current global pandemic is still taking a toll on almost any physical event. Even with the worldwide vaccine rollout, sports events are still out of the question. Still, the situation gave rise to eSports, a form of competitive gaming done virtually using video games.

More and more people are starting to appreciate competitive video games. So much so that it’s overtaking basketball, football, and other sports. Though it may seem strange, they are right. If you’re still a naysayer about this now-inevitable fate, read on to know the full extent of eSports.

How Big Is The Esports Industry

Through the years, eSports has accumulated quite a number in different aspects. For one, the number of players it has. As more people gain access to good internet connections and devices, eSports players are increasing.

Alongside the rise of players, the bulk of people watching professional matches also grows. eSports audience size will increase from 397.8 million in 2019 to an estimate of 577.2 million by 2024. Furthermore, 285.7 million of these users are eSports enthusiasts, and the majority are occasional viewers.

Some countries have little to no participation in the eSports scene, especially on its competitive side. Many active professional eSports players are coming from the US, China, South Korea, and Germany.

The eSports industry is big, and developers find more ways to make video games more accessible to people. Mobile games are a good example. These games are more convenient and becoming more popular worldwide but especially in Southeast Asia. Developers are energizing mobile games and expected to bring on $1.15 billion in 2025.

eSports also creates a huge cash flow. The industry was valued at around $1.1 billion in 2019. What’s more, data shows that by 2023, eSports will generate almost $1.8 billion by 2023. The main drivers are media rights, sponsorships, and advertisements through streaming. These numbers can still go up as the eSports industry is in an upward direction.

What Is The Esports Industry Made Up Of

eSports has become zero to a hundred in a short period. Globally, 23% or 1.9 billion people know about eSports, and more than two-thirds play some kind of it. If you’re still in the blue, read on and know what’s inside the lucrative industry.

Tournaments With Massive Prize Pools

DOTA 2, CS:GO, League of Legends, and other competitive online games have many events. Tons of tournaments, leagues, and mini-cups are hosted annually. Professional teams are lining up for the bragging rights and also the massive prize money. Some can be a few thousand, but the highest reached $34 million. This record-high win was in DOTA 2’s The International last 2019 won by the OG team.

eSports can achieve this kind of prize money like how the NBA or NFL gets it: sponsorship. eSports games reels in money from their sponsors from different avenues. High-rolling industries like consumer goods, technology, and clothing spend up to $51 million.

Moreover, despite having the pandemic last year, most eSports still had over $5 million for their prize. In particular, CS:GO tops the 2020 prize pool list with a whopping $14.75 million. These massive prizes make the best eSports professional team richer. The Netherlands-based Team Liquid has won almost over $36 million, while OG has about $34 million.

Skins & Item Trading

Other than playing the game, players can also make a profit in trading skins and items. Skin and item trading became popular in 2013 when CS:GO released an update called Arms Deal. The update prompted other game developers to follow suit, but its main proponent still makes the biggest contribution.

Esports Betting

eSports betting has become a staple in both gaming and gambling communities. This new kind of betting is like sports betting and sometimes has the same subtype (i.e., parlay betting). Bettors can either wager their money or use skins and items to place bets. eSports bettors place bets on almost any game. But, the popular ones like CS:GO, League of Legends, and DOTA 2 bring in the most money.

Although eSports betting had a few setbacks during its early years, it has become a potent industry today. Eilers & Krejcik and Narus projected in 2016 that 6.5 million people would place bets in any eSports game. Moreover, there will be $12.9 billion bets placed in that same year. Almost half of it (or $5.5 billion) is forecasted to be directed at major tournaments.

What’s more, traditional bookmakers and online betting sites are now including eSports betting into their roster. ESports tournaments are still rolling during the pandemic. Thus, big names are coming up more frequently than ever.

Comparison With Physical Sports

Physical sports and eSports are from two different worlds. Although they run the same way and have teams competing, eSports is clearly overtaking basketball and football. eSports players can easily log in to their game and play instantly, as long as they have internet and electricity. Unlike physical sports, players need to be physically present to play and sometimes find the right venue.

Players indeed need to have a unique set of skills to play eSports and physical sports. What’s cool is that players do not need to be physically strong or run very fast to play video games. Some sports are not for everybody, and this idea is a huge selling point for eSports to gain new players.

eSports and physical sports may have different venues and playing platforms, but the two still have some similarities. A good representation of their similarity is their players. As more and more tournaments pop up in the local and international scene, more eSports players are going professional. Also, the best eSports players have the same sponsorship perks as those in the NBA, or sometimes better.

With today’s technology, people can watch sports matches in the comfort of their homes. Still, like the Super Bowl, eSports championship games are also jam-packed. For example, the World Championship of League of Legends in 2018 had 99.6 million unique viewers. It set a world record for eSports history. It’s only a shy away from the 100.7 million people who watched the 2018 Super Bowl.

What’s Your Takeaway?

Facts are facts, and eSports is overtaking sports. Still, the question remains whether competitive video gaming will truly surpass physical sports in every single vertical (e.g., event prize pools, attendance numbers, betting markets). Everything is evolving, and we won’t know what eSports and the sports industry will become in the next few years.