Esports is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world – it essentially stands for electronic sports but a better definition would be the organised competitive play of multiplayer video games. An emerging industry, it has now grown to such an extent that players are signed by teams, teams which are run by millionaires and sponsored by huge international corporations. Whilst the total esports prize money pool was predicted to be around $5million in 2010, this increased to over $211 million in 2019.
The popularity of esports has continued to increase over the last few years, and this trend is predicted to continue, with the ever-growing industry attracting new followers all the time. Esports has an estimated global audience of 454 million people, which is predicted to rise to over 644 million by 2022, according to Statista. But why is it so popular?
Entertainment has always been a fundamental human requirement and we are always searching for new and different ways to captivate, distract and entertain ourselves and the people around us. Entertainment also provides another platform to connect with others and make friends and in our digitally focused world, it’s no surprise that this now often comes in the form of digital entertainment, such as esports. A problem with creating such a world-famous form of entertainment for many years was lack of access, but now we have transport and the internet which allows us to stay connected. Along with the obvious innovations in gaming technology, our increased connectivity has also elevated esports to such a huge global audience, with live streaming and social media playing a huge part in making esports what it is today. People enjoy esports because video games can be played at any time of the day, and fitness and physical ability is not as big a requirement in esports as it is in some traditional sports. That said, burnout is a key problem with professional esports players and this can happen at a very young age, so expect to hear a lot more about training and new innovations to improve this and ensure professionals can play for longer.
With time, esports has been able to generate all of the intrigue and drama of traditional sports, with stars emerging from backgrounds where barriers to entry are difficult, to compete in world-famous events which can see them earn millions. One such person is Sumain Hasan, a 20-year-old from Pakistan who plays the world’s most popular esports game, Dota. Hasan began playing Dota when he was 7, but his huge passion for the game worried his parents, for gaming is not considered a true profession in Pakistan. After moving to the US at the age of 13, Hasan was eventually picked up by one of America’s biggest esports team, The Evil Geniuses. Now, one of the most sought-after esports youngsters in the world, Hasan has not only broken down cultural barriers, he is also the 3rd highest-earning gamer of all time, with his total earnings standing at $2,401,560.
The success of the industry has attracted, and in turn been enhanced by, a number of investors, with many seeing the opportunities presented by esports as viable long-term investments. One example is tech entrepreneur Tej Kohli, who launched a €50 million investment fund to back the industry. Through venture studio Rewired, Kohli has committed his support to the sector due to his belief in esports’ huge potential. Kohli’s experience of esports came primarily through his son and led to Kohli discovering the passion people within the industry have for esports, the enthusiasm of players and viewers around the globe and the opportunities it presents for business. Kohli has said that “Esports is the most disruptive innovation in world sport and I am excited to be able to help it thrive” and “I believe that with the right mentoring and investment, Europe will soon play host to the best players, teams and commercial opportunities in global esports.”
Sport’s primary goal is to entertain, and technology has taken that to a new level. The development of fitness equipment and facilities have given almost every sport the platform to flourish, with even VAR in the Premier League aiming to improve the human element of Refereeing decisions, making the sport fairer. Esports has arguably taken technology’s involvement within sport to the next degree, with the technology involved now playing a bigger part in sport than ever before – it will be interesting to see how sports evolves into the future.
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