Esports: The Future of Entertainment
It’s 2018, and esports is taking over. The word itself stands for electronic sports—a unique concept that turns online gaming into a thrilling viewing experience. At its core, it’s not that different from football or hockey, as you’re still watching the best players in the world fight for fame and glory.
But instead of duking it out in the real world, esports pros clash on virtual battlegrounds. Mere decades ago it’d be nigh impossible to imagine gamers filling up stadiums to cheer for their favorite players.
Nowadays, this routinely happens at huge venues like the Staples Center and even the Bird’s Nest. That’s right: the Olympic freaking stadium!
It’s time to admit: esports is a global phenomenon. And here’s why you should pay attention to it.
The esports generation
According to Business Insider, there are currently 300 million people tuning into esports broadcasts worldwide. By 2020, this number is expected to reach 500 million. Forbes notes that the majority of esports viewers falls into the 16-34 age range, which is a highly valuable demographic for most companies. With that, it’s not surprising that major brands have already made their investments.
NBA teams like the Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Golden State Warriors have entered the market by creating their own League of Legends teams. A similar trend can be observed in the Overwatch League where competitive lineups are funded by the owners of Arsenal and the New England Patriots. And we haven’t even talked about massive corporations of the likes of Red Bull, Coca-Cola, and Mercedes-Benz expressing their interest in sponsoring esports events.
The esports market revenue is estimated to be around $906 million at the moment, and it’s expected to hit $1.5 billion by 2020. The prize pools have also grown to astronomic proportions. As for the players themselves, they’re already recognized as professional athletes by the USA, France, and Turkey. Germany seems likely to follow suit. But even though pros will have an easy time traveling around the world and competing at different events, the thing that makes esports tick is its viewers.
Twitch: the television of Millennials
These days, it’s common to see gaming broadcasts pop up on YouTube or Facebook. But if you want to have a real esports viewing experience, you go to Twitch. Founded in 2011, it is a streaming platform that was originally created with online gaming in mind. And while it’s since branched out to include art, music, talk shows, Twitch still presents endless opportunities for esports fans to tune in to various tournaments and connect with their favorite personalities.
In 2017, the most popular games on Twitch were League of Legends, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Dota 2, Hearthstone, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Overwatch. Among them, League of Legends was the undisputed king, clocking over 1,045 million hours viewed worldwide. Since then, it has been overtaken by Fortnite.
Only time will tell whether League of Legends reclaims its throne or Fortnite stays at the top. Regardless, both games provide an incredible viewing experience that glues thousands of worldwide viewers to their screens on a daily basis. The same applies to other titles on our list, and every gaming enthusiast can find something to their liking on Twitch.
Considering the overall esports trajectory, it’s no wonder Amazon acquired the streaming service for $970 million in 2014. The investment paid off, and right now, Twitch has more viewers than HBO and Netflix. And the growth doesn’t stop there. Twitch has thousands of partners and affiliate streamers, and it’s continually raising the stakes in the entertainment business.
The esports betting effect
Speaking of stakes, the rise of esports revitalized the betting industry. With so many tournaments happening across the globe, millions of passionate fans are looking for ways to get in on the action. And making wagers is great for adding an extra flair to esports matches.
Experts estimate that fans will place esports bets for a total of $6.7 billion in 2018. However, that number is expected to increase twofold (up to $13.5 billion) by 2020. According to Alex Igelman, managing director of Gaming Research Partners, esports betting already surpassed golf, tennis, and rugby. And it’s only going to get bigger.
Bookmakers like Pinnacle, Betway, Betspawn, and EGB.com are providing countless betting options for esports. Even less prominent titles like Rocket League or Heroes of the Storm are getting some traction. Much like in the regular sports, you can gamble on match winners, predict the correct score, place handicap wagers and over/under bets. And of course, there’s a plethora of exciting gambling options that only apply to the world of competitive gaming like predicting which team scores the first kill or claims the most objectives.
The increasing popularity of bitcoin betting is another significant factor, as it opens up these markets to viewers from all over the world. With that, fans can get more invested in their favorite titles while making a profit at the same time. After all, esports betting is still an uncharted territory for most bookmakers. So finding good odds is much easier compared to traditional sports—especially if you did enough research and accumulated enough game knowledge.
The world’s gambling mecca—Las Vegas—has also embraced the esports boom. A massive Esports Arena opened at the top of the Luxor Hotel, becoming the first permanent esports venue in the area. The Arena is looking to host a wide range of events: from cosplay contests and viewing parties to show matches and competitive tournaments. Granted, USA still doesn’t offer as many online betting opportunities as the rest of the world. But it’s a great first step towards making Las Vegas into the hub of all things esports.
The future of esports is looking brighter than ever. The industry has made tremendous progress, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to let up anytime soon. So whether you want to bet, invest, or simply follow the most exciting developments, there’s no better time to hop onto the esports train than now.