Esports on a Meteoric Rise in 2017
by Amy Lignor
Okay…we all know that football is America’s favorite sport. Or…is it? NASCAR has a wide following. People still love to go to the ballpark in the lazy summer days to watch a Yankee hit a homerun. There are those who love to practically melt in the summer watching the Williams’ sisters prove that tennis is a ‘cool’ sport. And, there are gazillions of soccer fans all over the globe that make up a huge fan base that rivals that of football.
In 2017, however, sold-out crowds are packing arenas all across the U.S. to see a completely different sport play out than any of the ones mentioned above. The only difference in these arenas is that absolutely no fan donning the jersey of their ‘favorite’ looks at the floor/turf to see the game. Instead…they look up.
The main attraction in this sport is shown to the patrons on the big screens that hang from the ceiling of the arenas. We are talking about esports. For those who do not know, there is an International Dota 2 Championship which is the richest esports tournament in all the world. To “gamers,” Dota 2 is known as a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game. Yes, in essence we are simply talking about a battle in a computer game, nothing more. But for the major gamers screaming their excitement, it is an actual sport. And for the gamers who are playing in the Championship, it is their professional career.
Worldwide popularity for esports has skyrocketed! There are currently over 150 million “esports enthusiasts” on the earth in 2017, according to many market research firms who specialize in sports as well as gaming. Estimates have been made that 22% of American male millennials watch esports, putting it on the same tier as both baseball and hockey in terms of viewership. It was just last year that showed esports events had sold out everything from the Staples Center in Los Angeles to the beloved Madison Square Garden in NY.
Bringing in an estimated $493 million in revenue in 2016—up 51.7% from 2015—projections have been made that by 2019, esports revenue will race by the $1 billion mark. When it comes to evaluating the current industry, advertising and sponsorship dollars are out of this world. Sponsorship mainly comes in the form of game publishers who use this esports craze as a means to increase their own games’ popularity. However, when it comes to advertising, household-name brands are throwing money into the esports ‘arena’ in order to reach out to the younger digital gamers out there; names like, Coca-Cola, who actually sponsors the ‘League of Legends World Championships.’
Not to be left in the dust, traditional sports’ franchises have also struck up partnerships with the esports’ franchises in order to stay afloat with sports lovers. Examples of this come from the Philadelphia 76ers buying Team Apex and Team Dignitas; as well as the Miami Heat that struck up a partnership with the esports’ club Misfits whose teams compete in multiple games.
Although some diehard sports fans will roll their eyes, it has been stated by many that in esports, there are most definitely real athletes…even though they don’t have to be tackled on the gridiron by someone resembling a semi. These athletes have to own the best skill and eye/hand coordination in the world if they wish to be at the top of their game. This is not a ‘recreational’ sport by any means, and the events prove that to everyone who decides to come to the arena and cheer.
Take the salaries and prize money into consideration as well. The current state of professional gaming looks just like the beginning days of the NFL. However, there are 18 gamers that now make more than a half a million dollars per year, with 195 more earning upwards of a hundred thousand. And if the numbers keep skyrocketing like they have been, it will not be long before dozens of gamers make more than $1 million each and every year.
In 2017, we are taking a huge leap toward that reality. But…will esports take out traditional sports one day? Don’t worry. That won’t be the case. Even though it’s more than interesting as a sports industry all its own, those hits on the gridiron can never be replaced by great special effects on a big screen.
Source: Baret News