The Unstoppable Rise Of eSports

Surely one of the biggest dreams for any teenage boy and girl holed up in their room with a controller in their hand is the idea of being able to play games for a living. Forget exams, forget school and forget work, let’s just play and earn money for it.

Remarkably, a fortunate few are actually able to do this in so-called eSports, where professional and highly skilled gamers compete against each other in major tournaments.

While to some it may sound like a niche area, research from Newzoo has revealed that eSports’ total market value is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2020. Furthermore, the total worldwide audience for the games is predicted to grow to 589 million in the next three years.

So where did the phenomenon begin? Well, obviously an element of competition has always been key in gaming down the years, but many suggest that the first competitive gaming event actually took place in 1980 with a Space Invaders Championship organized by Atari. It is thought the event was the first large-scale one of its kind which reflects the types of tournaments which can now be seen across the world.

But of course times have moved on significantly from then and competitive gaming is a full-on industry. Sites like even allow fans to bet on the outcome of eSports’ top games, whether it is teams like Unicorns of Love doing battle with Splyce on League of Legends or Space Soldiers tackling Playing Ducks on Counter Strike Global Offensive.

But what do competitors themselves stand to benefit from when they take part? Well, multimillion-dollar prizes tend to be on offer at the biggest events, which are often held in front of both a massive live audience and millions of others watching online.

Research suggests that the total combined prize pools of the top five eSports in 2016 stood at an enormous $31.7 million dollars. According to XYGaming, the largest individual prize pool last year – more than $20 million – was raised for The International 2016 event.

The Dota 2 tournament was held in Seattle and hosted by the game’s developer Valve. As the site explains, Valve themselves offered up more than $1 million for the prize pot – which is also thought to be the biggest in gaming history – before the rest was then generated through the gaming community which plays the game. How? Well, they purchase in-game items with a percentage of proceeds going towards the big event.

The eye-watering sums of money involved in eSports show that this is a part of the gaming world which is undoubtedly in rude health. With all predictions pointing to this area only growing in the coming years, it is hard to bet against tournaments becoming even more lucrative as time goes by.

This hasn’t been lost on many brands which are keen to get involved in this world, whether it is Hisense becoming an official monitor provider for the Evil Geniuses team or even the NBA and Take Two Interactive launching their own league in relation to the basketball titles they collaborate on.

Professional competitive gaming is undoubtedly here to stay and potentially it offers a big opportunity to frustrated failed sportsmen everywhere. After all, while we all might not be able to make it as basketball players, we might just have a second with NBA 2K17.


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