Esports Net Worth 2022: The Billion Dollar Opportunity of Esports

Last Update on February 16th, 2022

The esports industry is growing faster than ever, and worth millions, in fact no, the esports industry is set to be valued in billions.

Esports companies, esports teams, and even esports players, are worth millions. The games played in esports tournaments are worth millions. Some argue the potential value of esports net worth could one day outstrip the value of some of the most popular traditional sports like football, basketball, and boxing.

For millennial generations and younger it’s natural to play, be a fan, and for those old enough its quite normal to gamble on esports. So, what is esports net worth, today and tomorrow? And how does that so far compare to other traditional sports? What too, will be the lingering impact of the coronavirus on esports and how will it impact what the esports industry is worth in 2022?

Billion Dollar Opportunity of Esports - TI9 Dota 2

© The International

The $1 billion valuation doubles for 2022

The esports industry’s overall evaluation can be pretty tricky to approach. The industry includes pretty wide areas, like streaming, gaming itself, as well as associated brand deals. However, a few decent market-wide esports net worth valuations are released every year. Looking at the one released by Newzoo, we can see that the global esports market is growing significantly. In 2019, NewZoo estimated the total revenue of the esports market would cross $1.1 billion.

Following this, the market saw immense growth going into 2020 with a 15% rise on the previous year. Beyond this, their estimate for 2021 is looking at a further year-on-year growth of 14.5%.

Newzoo estimates that the esports valuation will be coming from a few different places. This will include $833.6 million in revenue in global media rights and sponsorships. Even with some in-person events being uncertain at the moment, the projection of growth for the esports market reflects a growing interest in the topic in every sphere. Increasingly, their studies have pointed towards the metaverse and its continued growth for future potential in both games and esports.

Newzoo’s Global Esports Market Report 2019, published in February last year, estimated the revenue value of the esports market would reach $1.1 billion in 2019, up over 26% year-on-year. And, that the number of esports viewers will reach over 450 million, consisting of over 200 million esports “enthusiasts” and over 250 million “occasional” watchers. Newzoo estimated that at current growth rates, the esports market will generate $1.8 billion in revenue by 2022.

The latest report also confirms that mobile esports is growing quickly, especially in markets like Southeast Asia, India, and Brazil. This has definitely contributed to the growth in esports net worth and valuation. Specifically, it is linked to another major area of growth for esports, the mobile competitive gaming market. Current estimates suggest that this could be worth up to $1.5 billion by itself by 2025.

Esports Net Worth in 2022 – Recovery from coronavirus and continued growth

Starting in 2021, there was one major factor which has cast a shadow over esports going into 2021. Like most industries esports hasn’t been immune from the effects of coronavirus. However, unlike traditional sports, it has been in a better position to handle things. While in-person events were cancelled, online viewership for esports rose. Occasional viewership rose to 220.5 million, with 215.3 million dedicated fans.

This clearly shows a healthy appetite for a competitive game. Even as in-person events have returned, viewing figures have remained impressive showing that the increased interest was more than just a passing a fad. Revenue from sponsorships at these live events remains high, even as in-person attendance has fluctuated.

Towards the end of 2021, it looked like things were returning to normal. Although, the resurgence in infections has pushed a few events back online, but it does finally look like esports is moving on and recovering in 2022. That’s with its increased fan base from the extra exposure over the last few years.

Crypto and Esports

One area where esports is seeing some great growth is cryptocurrency. This could be responsible for a lot of the growth in the epsorts industry worth in 2022. Cryptocurrency has been around for a while but its increasing adoption has led to it being taken more seriously. You can now use cryptocurrency to purchase esports-related goods, attend games, and even bet on matches. However, it isn’t just the consumer side that is being affected by cryptocurrency.

Entire esports teams have switched over to crypto as the primary way of running their businesses. This is one area where there’s a lot of room for growth. It’ll be interesting to see how cryptocurrency continues to affect esports’ net worth going into the future.

Cryptocurrency exchange platforms Coinbase and FTX are heralding the marriage between the industries, signing multi-year multi-million-dollar partnerships with both esports teams and league operators. Meanwhile, Fan Token and NFT platforms are actively creating unique content to develop fandom across the globe. These fan tokens could be a good contributor to esports net worth.

This area also ties into the growing developments with Web3.0 and NFTs. NFTs in gaming look like a growing area, with major publishers like Microsoft working on integration in a metaverse with this technology. This is going to have an effect on their esports, which are now a large part of the market with their acquisition of Activision Blizzard. This is a development we’ll have to watch though, as 2022 may be too early to see this play out.

Competitive gaming and esports are really more popular than it ever has been going into 2022. While new variants of the Coronavirus continue to shadow over in-person sporting events, most games have proven themselves capable of sustaining an audience online. With esports revenue expected to grow, this is a great time to be looking towards competitive gaming.

BLAST Premier just renewed their partnership with Coinbase.

Esports net worth $3 billion by 2022

Goldman Sachs report from late 2018 estimated the esports market would reach a total value of $3 billion by 2022. It pointed to Fortnite’s first-year prize pool of $1 million and streamer Ninja’s $1 million valuations, as well as the $90 million deal Activision Blizzard signed with Twitch for Overwatch.

In the time since this report, these two specific games have both blown these deals away. Epic Games’ Fortnite plans have made a $1 million prize pool look modest. The Fortnite World Cup they held had a total prize pool of £30 million across the event. This included an individual prize for the Fortnite Solo’s winner, Kyle “Bugha” Geirsdorf. He walked away from the Fortnite World Cup with $3 million in prize money, while just 16 years old. These prize pools aren’t the biggest contributors to the epsorts industry worth in 2022, but they point to the amount of money flowing in and out of these events.

The other game mentioned in this report was Overwatch, which has also exceeded their past heights for deals. While they previously signed a $90 million deal with Twitch, they would eventually move over to YouTube. Exclusivity with YouTube came at the price of $160 million. Overwatch and the Call of Duty League have both seen huge growth for that company since this report was written, contributing significantly to the hefty price tag of Activison from Microsoft.

Bugha, winner of Fortnite World Cup

© Mike Stobe | Getty Images

Future Valuations Beyond 2022

Newzoo are yet to follow up on their last valuation to see where the esports industry has gone since last time. However, there are some areas of both growth and potential to watch. The first area for growth is the return of in-person events on a much wider scale. Some games have done okay with the switch to online or events without crowds. This has largely kept the revenue for esports going into 2022 at a decent level. Although, not all of them.

Entire genres like fighting games have been struggling with the current restrictions. As more countries begin to roll back restrictions and things move on, esports’ diversity of games can bounce back. This is going to be an area to watch for the year.

In terms of larger scale growth, Web3.0 and crypto offer great potential for gaming as a whole and esports. Groups like ESL are already talking about how they will be integrated NFTs into their plans going forward.

Areas to Watch – Consolidation

Things aren’t all looking bright for epsorts net worth in 2022. There are a number of problems and challenges the industry is facing. The first would be if the industry can maintain its popularity with the return of wider options for sporting. However, things so far seem to point towards that not being a problem.

Another area of concern is the increasing consolidation of the industry. An impressive number of esports franchises and games are going to be under a single company after 2022, Microsoft. Their aquistions alongside launching games like Halo are going to give them an outsized market share of esports. We don’t currently know what their plans are for esports in the future, but increased consolidation in the hands of one company is definitely an area to keep an eye on for the future of esports.

Traditional Sports versus Esports

To contrast with traditional sports, KPMG’s Football Benchmark compares the earnings of football club FC Barcelona which alone reported record revenue of the equivalent of nearly $1 billion for the 2018/2019 season, along with €855 million in 2019/2020.

If esports reached a $5 billion industry in the next five years, it would still only be equivalent in value to the top 15 teams in the English Premier League. However, that’s no mean feat and esports is in a fast-growth phase, traditional sports markets, though growing, are not growing as fast.

There is also the added problem for traditional sports that viewers, especially younger ones, are exiting towards esports. A survey of young Americans found 75% of 21-35-year-olds said esports took them away from traditional sports patronage.

It’s all going the right way for fast-paced and fast-growing esports

Players like Johan Sundstein (Notail) have earned $7 million playing Dota 2. Similar prize earnings can be found across titles like Fortnite, PUBG and CS:GO. These are staggering figures, but doesn’t quite touch what teams and organizations make.

Cloud9 has been the most valuable esports team since 2018, reaching a $310 million valuation according to CNBC and Forbes. Forbes also said at the time that nine esports teams had exceeded a valuation of $100 million each. In comparison, the highest value traditional sports team is the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys worth $5 billion, but in fairness, the team was established 59 years ago.

For game developers, owners, and their parent companies, China’s Tencent topped the revenue charts with 2018 earnings of $8.3 billion in 2019. In 2020, they brought in 482 billion yuan, equivalent to $74 billion.  Activision Blizzard, with Overwatch as its best-selling game, generated $3.5 billion in revenue in 2018 but then a massive $6.49 in revenue during 2019, followed by $8.1 billion in 2020, partially boosted by the success of games like Warzone. These huge companies definitely add to the total esports net worth.

For esports only companies, valuations are just as impressive. A Saudi-backed group just this year bought ESL, the esports organizer, for $1 billion. This is pretty impressive, especially just for a platform and not the game behind it.

While 2020 and 2021 weren’t the biggest years for a lot of esports companies, the market showed a strong resilience to the downturn of COVID-19. This bodes well for 2022. Compared to similar industries, gaming is estimated to have grown by 9.3% in 2019, 12% in 2020 and 15% in 2021, in comparison to traditional sports. While esporrts has their ticket sales contract, traditional sports like the Premier League saw a decrease over the period.

Opportunities and challenges for esports net worth in 2022 and beyond

We’re updating this article from one published in 2021. As the esports industry matures new opportunities and spin-off revenue generators are appearing.

Since the first publication, Astralis Group became the first esports team to publicly list and sell its shares on the stock markets. As we moved into 2020 the opportunity of esports stocks was realised by many. It’s now possible for investors to hedge their bets buying shares in esports teams and companies as well as game publishers. Legendary stock market investors like George Soros aren’t missing out on the esports opportunity either, he put $45 million into Activision Blizzard stocks in 2019.

Players and fans can take a different kind of gamble on esports too. Online bookmakers are increasingly offering esports bets. There are also many fantasy leagues. And, blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are offering a secure and transparent integration of digital assets, gaming, and betting. These companies and gambling companies are all looking to engage Millennials and Generation Z. These are all big contributors to esports net worth and the total esports industry worth in 2022.

Astralis Anounced first team IPO

© Astralis

At the time of writing, the tragic and troubling impact of the coronavirus is still being felt around the world. Traditional sporting events, leagues and tournaments have been mostly played online, without audiences in attendance. Things have begun to bounce back in 2022. While some international events still have restrictions, things are beginning to return to normal with crowds returning for matches. Regardless, esports have managed to show more resilience than any other industry in dealing with challenges.