2019 Guide to Becoming a Professional Mobile Esports Player

It's 2019, and the Esports world is becoming just as big as physical sports are nowadays. When we see big tournaments for PC gaming and consoles, it's just a matter of time for this worldwide phenomenon to replicate itself to other media, and gaming is evolving in new and exciting ways that are able to reach a potentially bigger user base in the competitive side of gaming. This opens the door to just about anyone who thinks that wants to be a professional mobile esports professional.

But what about the knowledge of complicated commands and joystick movements that have to be practiced every day? What if you don't have a state-of-the-art computer to play? Do you still have a chance to become an esports athlete? Of course you do! Because Esports are not limited to PC or consoles anymore. Nowadays, with the amazing mobile technology we have available, mobile esports tournaments are more and more common!

With the newer and more powerful mobile devices that mobile companies are releasing day by day, some of the most popular games are being worked on mobile apps just as if you were playing the console or PC version of those games (In some cases, even playing on the same servers), so why not testing your luck into becoming a mobile esports professional athlete? You have the advantage of this genre not being yet overrun by competitors, and there are many ways you can improve your chances to be in esports tournaments if you start right now with these few simple tips:

Pick a game that suits your abilities:

Do you have superb reflexes or you're more of a tactical thinker? All of these questions come into consideration when trying to choose the game you'd like to play professionally. If your thing is making good decisions and resource management, maybe you should focus your efforts on an Auto-Chess type of game (Autochess Origins and Dota Underlords are two options currently for mobile apps) or if you'd like more hands-on action, you could always try for the Battle Royale games that require a lot of good aim and quick reflexes.

Know your game's in and outs:

For being able to compete in mobile esports tournaments (or any kind of esports tournaments for that matter) you need to know your game left and right, down and center, and this is only achieved through constant study and keeping up to date with all the information you can gather. From the meta generally applied for most winning strategies, to characters tiers, win rates and anything else, you need to keep track of all the resources you need to learn, and make a habit of reading as much as you can ( TIP: Always read ALL the patch notes of your game of choice, changes in balance can be critical for your development if you have strategies based on characters, weapons or specific conditions in-gam)

Take care of your device:

This is just as important as practice and studying. You need to keep your gaming mobile device in a prime state if you want to compete in esport tournaments. I would personally recommend having a separate device just for your mobile esports needs, because if there's anything worse than having problems in the middle of a match, it's to receive a call just before the winning move!

Keep historic records of yourself: One of the last and more important steps, even before thinking about climbing the ranks and divisions of any esports tournaments is to know how much you're improving, and even if games take the time to take your statistics and keep track of them, there's so much more you can do to improve your abilities! Take notes of yourself, save the replays of your matches and watch them frequently! In this way, you can learn from your mistakes and improve either your KDR, your MMR or your W/L Ratio just by adjusting to new strategies and getting closer to mobile esports tournament standards.

Consistency:

Finally, the most important rule of them all to become a Professional Mobile Esports Athlete is the consistency. You have to play a lot of hours, you have to study even more, you need to refine your technique and learn from your mistakes, but most importantly, you need to do this constantly, don't stop, even if you fail, because you always have to remember that every professional has failed more times than the rookie has tried yet.


3 Key Questions to Transform Your Marketing as an Esports Tournament Organizer

Most esports players don’t compete just for the money. In fact, most professional players will tell you that the financial benefits are secondary.  Despite this, many tournament organizers still feel discouraged when they’re unable to offer The International 2019 sized prize pools. The right marketing and brand strategy, however, can be even more valuable than a large prize. By focusing on 3 key goals -- becoming differentiated, discoverable, and credible-- you, too, can build a community around your tournaments that keeps players coming back. 

1.  Are you differentiated?

Why would a player choose your tournament out of the thousands of tournaments that exist? Do your tournaments offer unique value? How you differentiate is the first question you need to answer. Let's look at several strategies to help you stand out from the crowd

Competitive Analysis

The first step to defining whether or not you are differentiated is to conduct a competitive analysis. To conduct a competitor analysis, begin by drawing up a list of organizers that you share a target audience with. Include organizers who compete indirectly with your company, such as those creating tournaments for other games and top organizing companies like ESL. Begin looking at your competitors with three questions in mind:

  • How do customers feel about them?
  • Why are they doing what they’re doing?
  • What can I learn from them?

To make this process easier, use our free guide to help visualize and walk you through the key questions of competitive analysis. 

Download Our Free Guide

Social Media Analysis

Social media is particularly important in differentiating yourself. According to Hootsuite, 88% of American 18 to 29 year olds use social media, which is the part of the prime age demographic of esports players. To maximize your social media marketing, undertake research on the following areas: 

  • What social media channels are they using? Are you using the same ones?
  • What are their engagement metrics, such as average likes, shares, and comments?
  • How often do they post?
  • How many followers do they have and how fast are they getting more?
  • What are they doing well? 
  • What are their weaknesses? 

Once you compile this information, you should better understand how to emulate the success of your competitors, learn from the failures of your competitors, and create an effective marketing strategy going forward. The process of competitive analysis is ongoing, so be sure to frequently check on your competitors and keep your finger on the pulse of market trends. 

...emulate the success of your competitors, learn from the failures of your competitors, and create an effective marketing strategy going forward...

Now that you’ve taken the time to better understand your competition, adapt your tournament to serve esports players better than your competitors, and make sure players know about it by using your new pitch.

Your New Pitch

In the age of clickbait articles, your pitch must be short and sweet. This is your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP.  Your USP should be one to two sentences that succinctly illustrate your unique value to players when compared to the competition. 

A strong USP is the foundation upon which you market yourself. Your webpage, blog, social media channels, and all other marketing should align with this messaging.

The next challenge is to use your channels effectively so that your message is heard. 

2.  Are you Discoverable?

Creating your USP helps solidify what your tournaments have to offer, but is this message getting heard by players? Are your webpages eye-catching enough for players to even bother learning more? When players go looking for tournaments, can they even find you?

Being discoverable is a massive challenge for tournaments; there are hundreds of new tournaments created every day. According to Thiemo Bräutigam, journalist and Managing Editor for The Esports Observer, the amount of esports tournaments has more than tripled since 2010.

Audience Analysis

Overcoming the challenges of reaching players means first better understanding them. Much like the competitive analysis, conducting an analysis of your target audience is key.

Begin this process by surveying players that have consistently engaged with your tournaments, and then try to reach out to players that have engaged with your primary competition. The aim is to create a persona or multiple personas of your primary customers. 

Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, defines a marketing persona as a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. A persona can be created by simply asking your audience several key questions. This may include:

  • What is your age?
  • What is your nationality?
  • What is your gender?
  • What games do you play primarily?
  • What social media channels do you use?
  • What do you look for in an esports tournament?
  • How did you discover our tournament?
  • Why do you compete in esports tournaments?

Based on this research, compile one to two personas of your average audience. For example, one part of your audience may be 18 to 25 years old, European, and primarily use Twitter. Another persona may be 30 to 38 years old, South East Asian, and primarily active on Facebook.  These brief personas can be used to shape your marketing strategy.

Content Channels

Use the results of the survey to decide which channels to be active on and how you should tailor your message to your audience. If the average respondent primarily uses Facebook and competes to gain notoriety, creating Facebook posts about how to grow their esports following would likely be successful. 

Aim to publish content on channels dedicated to esports. CAPSL is one such channel, which enables organizers to publish and advertise their tournaments to the entire CAPSL community. Since CAPSL surfaces tournament content relevant to each individual’s gaming preferences, organisers creating engaging tournaments have access to unique levels of free customer acquisition, helping you maximize your growth.

There are a wide variety of new and innovative channels for targeting esports fans, so embrace exploration beyond your main channels. If a competitor starts using a new channel that you’re not using, perhaps that means it’s an opportunity for growth. 

Content Strategy

After deciding which channels to participate in, the next step is to create a content calendar. Content should be designed with the goal of driving traffic back to your website/tournament page, but remain personal and conversational. To maintain interest in your page, schedule two to three posts per day.

When designing content, take advantage of mental shortcuts to maximize reach and engagement. Joe Karbo, marketing expert and author, argues that content designed around the Four R’s: Reincarnation, Recognition, Romance, and Reward. Based on the Four R’s, consumers want content and services that...

  • Reincarnation: help them leave their mark on the world and accomplish their goals.
  • Recognition: make them feel important and valued.
  • Romance:  make them feel good about themselves.
  • Reward: offer them a reward.

Keep in mind that different social media channels have different strengths. Jan Wong, Forbes 30 under 30 marketing guru and founder of Open Minds, recommends diversifying your content across channels. Youtube, for example, is a better forum for posting long videos, such as full streams. For a platform like Twitter, you can take that same stream and cut it down to a 15 second clip for best results.

Most importantly,  remember that social media is about conversations; proactively encourage your audience to participate in the conversation by asking direct questions, setting up polls, and replying to their comments in a timely manner. Never directly try to ‘sell’ your tournament to players, but rather, post interesting, entertaining, and valuable content related to your tournament. Keep your content short, sweet, and visual to grab your audience’s attention and loop them into the conversation. 

...remember that social media is about conversations; proactively encourage your audience to participate…

Search Engine Optimization

Make sure you’re at the top of the search results when players are choosing which tournament to participate in. This beginner’s guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will introduce you to key concepts and practices to becoming more discoverable through search engines. 

3.  Are you credible? 

Credibility is vital to gaining trust as a tournament organizer in the unregulated frontier of esports. Both potential sponsors and competitors are cautious, and may overlook your tournament if its credibility is not obvious.

The question is, how do you build trust before someone even participates or spectates your tournament? The key to building that trust is a combination of relationships, data, and security. 

Relationships

Relationships can make or break how much consumers trust your brand. Naturally, if someone close to you were to recommend a brand, the chance you’ll try it is dramatically increased. As an organization, you need to actively cultivate these types of advocates. 

Finding and cultivating brand advocates is hard. You need to actively engage with your target audience, and regularly let them know that you understand and are responsive to their concerns. The pay-off is huge, however. Once you have a customer’s strong support, you can ask them to provide you with testimonials or refer your organization to their friends. 

You need to actively engage with your target audience, and regularly let them know that you understand and are responsive to their concerns.

Data

While testimonials can do wonders, sponsors and gamers alike love to see the hard data behind your tournaments. Historical data demonstrating high engagement, viewership, and participation is great for enticing the support of sponsors and players.

This is where platforms like CAPSL are here to help. CAPSL makes it simple for brands to search for tournaments to sponsor based on historical tournament data. As a result, the credibility problem for tournament organisers is eliminated and sponsors can directly support high performing tournaments, with little to no effort on the organisers part. In turn, tournaments with brand sponsorship also increase the tournament’s credibility with players.

You can also personally track participation, viewership, and engagement with the help of any spreadsheet software. That data could be advertised to players to show you have an active tournament, or to sponsors to show you have a vibrant community around your tournament. 

Security

After multiple publicized cases of tournaments offering prizes that did not actually exist, being able to trust that a tournament’s prizes are real is another critical aspect of a tournament’s credibility. Even a moment of doubt that a prize is real can mean a player overlooks your tournament.

Leveraging platforms like CAPSL, which guarantees all prizes are real and secure, ensures that your tournament doesn’t have to bear the burden of proving the legitimacy of its prizes, so you can focus on growing your community and creating quality tournaments. 

Takeaways

Are you differentiated, discoverable, and credible?  Revisiting these questions regularly will help ensure that you give your tournament the best chance at success possible in the ever-evolving esports marketplace. Marketing is in many ways more art than science, but still requires consistently observing and adapting to competitors’ behavior and consumers’ desires. Making this kind of ongoing questionsing and data monitoring central to your marketing strategy will ensure that you truly are differentiated, discoverable, and credible. 

Special thanks to Jan Wong and all of our contributors for their invaluable insights and marketing expertise. Check out Jan’s company Open Minds to learn more about mastering marketing for your organization!


How To Become A Professional Esports Player

Gaming has come a long way from only being limited to local arcades, to a whole community of people globally. It has evolved so much that there is an entire industry based around. The professional version of it is known as Electronic Sports, Esports for short.

There are many career options available such as game developer, host, player, referee, and agents. In this article, we look at how you can become a professional player. Below are the basics to get you started in this ever-growing and lucrative industry which is Esports:

1. Choose a platform

Games are now available on three platforms, namely PC, Console, and Mobile, each offering online capability. For you to become a professional, you need to choose which platform best suits you and stick to it. Mobile is the most recent and is rapidly growing as more people now own smartphones. This growth has resulted in the development of a new sub-industry known as mobile esports.

2. Invest in the hardware

Once you identify which platform you are going to pursue, it is necessary to invest in the correct equipment. Different games require specific hardware for them to work seamlessly. You have to make sure that the device you have is capable of handling the hardware requirements for the game. If you opt for mobile, make sure it has sufficient ram, proper display size, and resolution. You can also have a dedicated device only for gaming.

3. Choose a genre

Games come in different genres that cater to individual tastes. You have simulation games, arcade games, sports and so on. For you to become a professional, you need to choose a genre that is suitable for you and does not have a steep learning curve. You can always look at past esports tournaments to see which type has the most following. For mobile, it is much simpler as you can choose between Multiplayer Online Battle Arena or Multiplayer Massive Online.

4. Practice regularly

Every professional regardless of the career choice can only become good at it with regular practice. Dedicate appropriate time to improve your skills and technique in the game. You can start by hosting games online for you and your close friends and challenge each other in the game. Another way to develop your gaming skills is to enroll yourself on an esports tournament platform. Here you will find vast amounts of information on gameplay, techniques, and tutorials on how to approach different aspects of the game. You can also watch videos on YouTube that feature elite players demonstrating various ways in how they tackle challenging areas of the game.

5. Get known

As you continue gaming, it is advisable to let people know your existence. You can do this by reaching out to other pros in the game of your choice and interact with them regularly. Another great way to increase your exposure is by joining a team or creating one. Here you will be able to increase your profile and grow your brand. Every professional gamer has a personal brand and a team to match. The advantage of this is that you can get valuable experience from other players, as well as support on all matters of gaming. You can share resources and even widen your exposure in the gaming community through each other's networks.

6. Enter your first competition

Now that you have garnered experience, it is time for you to put your skills to the test. You can start with your local tournament and see how you stack up amongst other players. For PC and Console there exist games whereby you can compete as an individual such as sports games and fighting games. Most of the games that people play in mobile esports tournaments require team participation. So always make sure that you have a team at your disposal, to be able to compete against others.

Competitions are a great way to judge the level of skill that you have. The experience will help you in identifying where you need to improve. Always remember the first tournament is a learning experience. The results do not matter at this point. They are a benchmark to push you further in your quest to become a pro. Keep on participating regularly, and you will soon find yourself among the elite.

Esports is open to everyone. It does not matter how old you are. So long as you have the right equipment and passion, you can excel in becoming a professional gamer.


Virtual reality, augmented reality and the growth of esports

Our world is constantly being re-shaped by advancements in technology – from PCs to the internet, to mobiles, to tablets. With every new technological transformation, our lives have become a little bit easier and the world has become a lot more accessible. Today, all eyes are on the new-yet-not-so-new kids on the block: augmented reality and virtual reality.

 

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality refers to an immersive digital world completely cut off from the physical one. It is built on ideas that go as far back as the 1800s, but the term was first used in the 1930s by Jaron Lanier. Today, after nearly a century, it has gained massive traction, with people scrambling to get a taste of the complete immersive VR experience. Leading the way is the gaming industry, which has proven to be the first-adopter of all things visual and tech, and has already created products that leverage the potential of AR and VR technology. Additionally, as an industry, it is not satisfied with just the basic offering, and is striving to push the envelope to achieve richer, more immersive, personal experiences.

According to statista.com,

The VR industry is growing at a fast pace, with the market size of virtual reality hardware and software projected to increase from 2.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 to more than 19 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. Another forecast projects revenues from the global virtual reality market to reach 21.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2020.”

Currently, competitive gamers have an average PC spend of USD 1500 – 50% more than users who do not game. Keeping this in mind, a full gaming rig with premium VR, estimated at around USD 800, with VR headset and games, is well within the budgets of competitive gamers. Cost of hardware is predicted to fall further. The cost of an Oculus Rift is now USD 399, while the new Oculus Go is even more affordable, with a USD 199 retail price having launched in May 2018. In fact, 200 million+ consumer VR head-mounted displays are expected to be sold worldwide by 2020, implying that more and more people will be turning to these technologies and making them a staple for entertainment, be it esports, films, or music.

 

 

Augmented Reality

Unlike virtual reality, which is completely cut off from the real world, augmented reality blends the virtual and physical worlds. Due to its easy accessibility (via mobile or tablet), AR has caught on faster than VR amongst the masses. Augmented reality has been growing in popularity amongst the developer community since 2006. However, it was only in 2017 that the industry received a significant boost, when AR exploded into the mainstream with the release of Pokemon Go and AR development kits by Apple and Google.

Pokémon Go was the first memorable instance of mass AR consumption. A location-based AR game, it had more than 100 million downloads in its first month of launch, reportedly earning $10m per day at the height of its popularity. Due to its mass appeal, it attracted more attention and investment. But why did it work? First, it brought our favourite Pokemon to the real world, in a sense; secondly, it promoted a sense of community by bringing people together. Most of the break-through technologies have done much the same.

The best part about AR games is that they introduce elements in our otherwise ordinary world. In Pokemon GO, a pokemon could be hiding behind a chair or a dustbin on a street that you pass daily. It gives us an opportunity to build a new world on the foundations of our current one.

According to insightssuccess, “With the new advancements in AR, players can scan a room with their devices and create a 3D map of the walls and furniture. Gamers can place their virtual characters and objects on real tables and shelves, while other players can view the scene and join via their own devices.”

The proof of the popularity is in the numbers. There are approximately 200 million AR-compatible devices on the market, with this number expected to increase 10-fold, to 2 billion, by end-2019. In addition, billion-dollar investments in wearable technology firms such as Mirror Labs and Magic Leap are forecast to bolster the size of the AR addressable market, in addition to taking immersion to the next level. Add to that the Hololens initiative from Microsoft coupled with Apple’s acquisition of Vrvana (a VR/AR eye-tracking “crossover” company) and Akonia Holographics (which develops lenses for AR glasses), and the future of augmented reality looks exceptionally bright.

Advertisers are already engaging with AR to disrupt traditional digital marketing with immersive, interactive AR content. A case in point is the Jaguar Land Rover AR experience that created a simulated driver cockpit experience for potential customers.

Needless to say, AR has significant potential to serve not only as a vital acquisition funnel for VR game technology and content, but also as a brand new stream of views and revenue for game streamers who are struggling to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market.

 

The market for both realities

Augmented reality and virtual reality will be most widely used in the gaming industry and, with the increase in number of both casual and professional gamers, their future seems to have an abundance of lucrative opportunities. The two technologies add a fantastical element to gaming, making it seem both ethereal and personal. VR and AR provide opportunities for people who are both gamers and athletes. A case in point is HADO, a Japanese firm that has been hosting an annual VR/AR competition for the past few years. In 2017, it expanded into other SEA countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Its second official international tournament, the HADO World Cup, saw 12 teams from three different countries competing for the championship title. You can check the promo here.

 

Thus, undeniably, the convergence of these two technologies will help make the future of esports brighter than it already is.

 


Esports and its impact on existing careers

The establishment of new industries, like esports, helps diversify common careers by creating specializations for the upcoming industry. Esports has much the same requirements as traditional sports. There are, however a few differences. Esports has ample options for gamers and for people in technology, and in creative fields like animation, design, writing or storytelling, none of which are required in the traditional sports industry. But does it have room to help other career categories expand? Let’s look at some of the roles that are essential to the world of esports today. These do not include the core categories already mentioned above.

 

  • Agents: Like most celebrities, professional gamers need agents to help them get brand deals and sponsorships. In the case of up-and-coming gamers, they might need agents to get noticed on a larger scale.

  • Business Managers: These might be the same as agents, with additional responsibilities. Gaming assets appreciate and depreciate over time. Trading is a part of the gaming world and who better to manage this than a business manager? This leaves the players more time to practice. Gamers need to make informed decisions to grow their revenue and their brand. Business managers can help gamers understand the pros and cons of going with different teams, endorsing certain brands, making certain trades etc.

 

 

  • Lawyers: The legal world of esports, with respect to gamers’ rights and contracts, is quite unorganized. There is still no standard contract to which the legalese-challenged gamer can refer. With the growth of esports, lawyers specializing in the industry will be more in demand, overseeing player acquisitions and trading, gamer rights, breaches of contract, and more. They would have to be well-versed with the industry and how the esports world works to help with in-game or tournament disputes as well. This website gives an idea of what to expect in esports contracts.

  • Accountants: Esports gamers don’t just own common currency, they also own game tokens or game currencies that need to be accounted for. This may not be relevant now but it shows promise in the near future, especially with the advent of blockchain, upon which esports platforms are being built. They would also be key in recommending financial actions to be taken to fill the gamer’s coffers.

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Virtual reality on esports tournaments spectatorship

The football players enter the field. There are loud cheers. Someone next to you accidentally spills some of their drink on you. But you don’t care. You’re too busy cheering for the team, adding to the already thunderous applause and hooting that has engulfed the stadium. At this moment, until the next 90 minutes or so, you are part of a movement, alongside strangers who feel like family.

Watching sports in a stadium is different from watching it on one’s laptop, alone. Typing to connect with friends while the game is on could result in you missing some action. Talking to friends is much easier. This is why, when going on-ground to see a match is not possible, people have viewing parties. Sports spectating is essentially about coming together and enjoying the game. Unfortunately, esports, which has around 500 million fans with ⅔ being spectators, doesn't essentially provide a stadium-style experience and friends aren’t always free to travel.

Virtual reality helps bring the feeling of camaraderie and oneness back in not just esports, but any game. It enables us to experience “stadium-style” viewing from the comfort of wherever-we-are. As we don our VR headsets or glasses, we are transported into a world full of action and fellow fans, seated across us, next to us, behind us. We can turn to them and talk without missing the game. We can see our players in action just a few feet away. Our cheers become part of the crowd again.

However, VR brings more than just stadium-style spectating to our homes. It enables us to switch between multiple stadiums. Since games are being viewed on a platform we control, we can easily “switch the channel”, without losing out on the viewing experience. Another interesting capability of this technology is allowing us to experience the game from the athlete’s point of view. Virtual reality heightens the immersive spectating experience by letting us see what a player sees at any given point of time in the game.

Lastly, since it brings ‘stadium-style’ viewing back, it also helps us make new, genuine friends. How do we know they’re the friends we want? Mostly, because you can see exactly how they behave during the game.

Data

Esports spectating in VR is a treasure-trove of psycho-graphic data. Since VR mirrors our real-life actions, researchers or gaming studios can see exactly when people start losing interest, the number of times they get distracted, their fidgeting habits, their preferred ‘look’, the angle of their most-held gaze, their body movements and so on.

The above, peppered with the spectator’s involuntary verbal cues, gives researchers valuable insights into an individual’s as well as a community’s behavioral and linguistic patterns.

 

Monetisation

The presence of rich psycho-graphic data provides earning opportunities for spectators and game creators. The Facebook-Cambridge Analytical scandal has raised awareness regarding privacy breaches. People want to know where their data goes. In a VR world, spectators can allow brands to document their experiences in a given game or situation, for a certain time, at a certain cost. The game takes a cut of the spectator’s earnings, but the spectator keeps a bulk of the revenue. This way, people have direct control over which brands have what information and are able to benefit financially in the process.

While spectators get paid for data, gaming or esports stadiums get paid for targeted ad distribution. Think of an on-ground, physical stadium. There will always be a few (sponsoring) brands that stand out because of their logo placement along the base of the stands. Brands in stadiums have greater recall value for the spectators because their ads are not constantly moving and there is no scope of ‘scrolling’ through them or dismissing them. This is primarily due to the static nature of the ads and the fact that they appear to be non-intrusive, while simultaneously making an impression on the spectator’s mind. Ad distribution or display is further enhanced with the help of psycho-graphic targeting. Since the game already has its own set of psycho-graphic data, it can show different ads to different people at the same time, in the same spot. For example: A gadget-loving person who is sitting across Hoarding A might see an ad for the latest mobile, while a person sitting right next to him/her might see an ad for a new item in a different game because they just earned a massive amount in that game. The ad on the hoardings can also change based on the mood of the individual spectator.

Virtual reality, undeniably, opens doors for rich, immersive spectating. The question is – how good can we make this experience?


Esports: Is it worthy of being a career?

Nearly 300 million spectators. 500 million fans. A future valued at more than a billion dollars in 2020. Esports may have started out as an additional means of making some extra pocket money back in the ‘70s but, by the 2000s, professional gamers had made their mark. Increase in spectatorship re-affirmed the undeniably bright future of esports.

Present Professionals

Today, there are instances of professional gamers making millions from tournaments. The richest player, Kuro “KuroKy” Takhasomi, DotA player and part of Team Liquid, has made $3,549,039.35 over a decade. The team is known for its “silent and deadly” gameplay. Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora has raked in $2,953,956.27 and is ranked #3 worldwide, #1 in the US. He has already won $168,000 this year from 2 tournaments. Sumail Hassan moved to the US to further his DotA 2 career at the age of 15. Featured in Time Magazine 2016 as one of the most influential teenagers, Sumail is the youngest player to have earned $1,000,000 gaming. His total earnings to date are $2,676,991.94. Sasha Hostyn, with $200,693.82, is the highest earning female esports player in the world.

These gamers and their stories have inspired a whole generation to look at esports as a viable career option. It is – if you’re willing to put in the work and effort required.

Current Landscape

Like any career, professional gaming requires persistence and dedication. Currently, the hurdles to enter the industry as a gamer are a little higher, with people vying for the same top titles, as seen in the graph below – League of Legends (which averages around a 100 million players), Starcraft II (with 2.4M players competing), DotA 2 and so on. This doesn’t allow newcomers to make their mark as easily as the early professionals of the early 2000s. To add to their woes, the world of esports is largely unstructured.

Fortunately, with blockchain-based esports entities cropping up, there are now more opportunities for new gamers and small studios to compete and showcase games, respectively, with greater security. Additionally, with technology becoming cheaper and more accessible, the number of professional gamers and esports tournaments is set to increase. Perhaps the most telling change, however, is the blurring of lines between esports and traditional gaming. The adoption of esports by traditional sports organisations has been one of the main reasons for the spike in competitive gaming popularity.

 

Traditional Organisations x Esports

Marcus “ExpectSporting” Jorgensen was signed by Manchester City to represent the club in FIFA in PlayStation 4 competitions; Google has added a livescore feature for esports; the States’ Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets are backing 3 of 10 top teams competing in the North American League Championship series this year.

Even Disney has acquired 21st Century Fox, owns 75% stake in BAMTech, and chose 3 esports-centric entities for its Accelerator programme - aXiomatic, an esports ownership group and Epic Games, developer/publisher of Gears of War and Fortnite. This is of some import primarily due to the massive size of Disney and its existing, loyal audience - in Gen Y and Gen Z. Collaborating with or owning esports entities gives Disney the opportunity to expand its already popular products (films, entertainment, merchandise) into an up-and-coming, potentially viral medium. For esports, this translates into a definitive vote of confidence, securing its present and reinforcing its future potential.

The International Market

China, having gained more than US $37,945M (data below) in esports revenue, as of June 2018, has towns that are building stadiums specifically for esports tournaments. This provides increased opportunities for esports aspirants to enter the market in Asia. However, with increase in access, competition is also bound to increase. Asia, particularly China, is driving the thriving esports market. According to article in Forbes:

“...there are 100 million eSports fans in China now. They watch professional competitions, either live or online, on many video sites that are China's answer to Twitch...ESPN and Tencent, the largest online games company in China, and one of the largest Internet companies in the world by market cap, have recently teamed up to cover sports in China.”

 

Esports: Here to stay

Esports has expanded to the extent that it now has subsets, the most common being real-time strategy (RTS), fighting, first-person shooter (FPS), multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA). There is some debate regarding MOBA’s status as a stand-alone genre.

The increasing number of opportunities, the support of major players in traditional industries, and the ever-expanding nature of esports has established competitive video gaming as a phenomenon that is here to stay.

All said and done, is esports a worthy career option?

The simple answer is ‘Yes’. However, the world of esports isn’t just for competitive gamers, of course. It has created inexhaustible opportunities for writers, developers, media managers, coaches, designers – art and fashion, player psychologists, and commentators. If you want a piece of the action but can’t game, you can always consider the aforementioned subsets of a career in gaming. Alternatively, you could don the cap of a spectator and cheer your favourite players on during tournaments.

So, what do you think? Planning on dipping your professional toes in esports waters?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Virtual Reality: A closer, more understanding world

The PC brought the digital world to our homes, the advent of the internet made a wealth of information accessible, while the mobile made it portable and promoted connectivity.  The next wave of transformation comes in the form of Virtual Reality or, as it is fondly and lazily known, VR.

VR: A quick introduction

Virtual Reality, undoubtedly, makes it easier to traverse the world without moving from our spot. We can be on the hills of the Himalayas or walking beside lions in sub-Saharan Africa; we can visit our parents at home while working in a completely different continent; we can scour the southernmost tip of the world without fear and without training; we can be at a stadium, high-fiving a fan next to us, without leaving our couch; we can float in space without becoming astronauts.

Most importantly, virtual reality brings us closer. It takes us into the world of another, helps us open up to them, and helps form intimate bonds despite the lack of physical connection.

Of media and empathy

Many industries, particularly the news and media, have utilized VR to give people a sense of the devastation and emotional distress during natural and man-made disasters in other parts of the world. BBC UK, additionally, has created a few VR experiences in the form of stories to help people experience the life of a migrant and the mind of a rebel. This encourages empathy in people. For most of us, a disaster happening half the world away is a mere distraction. VR puts us front and centre in the lives of another person. Interaction becomes easier because the suddenness of familiarity is balanced by the knowledge that this is happening “online”. People feel safer talking to a new person. They also tend to let their guard down and become more open.

“…empathy doesn’t go quite far enough and VR’s true magic is the ability to induce intimacy between people.” Peter Rubin, author -  Future Presence: How Virtual Reality Is Changing Human Connection, Intimacy and the Limits of Ordinary Life.

While we are essentially not present physically, our mannerisms are replicated in the VR world in real time. Hence, interactions become more real. The line between VR and reality is also slightly blurred by our brain and it is possible to completely immerse oneself in this digitized reality.

Of safety and health

As VR brings impact of disasters closer home, it also has potential to ease the process of help. VR simulations are already used in training armies for all possible scenarios. If extended to more people, it can create an easily-accessible and educated group of first responders, aware of how to interact with people in need of aid.

In addition, seeking therapy becomes easier. In times of distress, particularly depression, people do want to ask for help, but appointments are difficult to make. In other cases, they cannot bring themselves to move and act. Access to therapists on a VR platform would help the patient as well as the therapist, who will be able to see the patient’s reactions and hear their words as though in the physical world. Alternatively, they would be able to reach out to others like them or just other friends via VR. While there is nothing like a warm hug to calm the nerves for most, a conversation and just “going out” to meet people can do wonders. Virtual reality encourages that without forcing the person to muster enough energy, something that might take days to happen without help.

Making education accessible

Schools too would benefit. Student exchange programmes would become more accessible as students experience classrooms abroad without leaving their homes. This enables those unable to fund travel or those with linguistic barriers to get the same opportunities as their more financially privileged counterparts. In the physical world, a foreign exchange student without knowledge of the host country language will not be able to understand the course material or fully appreciate the culture. With virtual reality, courses and conversations can be translated in real time, breaking linguistic barriers. Underprivileged students and families are also able to travel the world without paying for airline tickets, visa, and more.

A closer world

Virtual reality gives us the opportunity to befriend the 7 billion+ people out there faster and more intimately, without compromising security and without having to travel. This takes the stories of billions of people to each other, creating a world that is closer, more understanding and, perhaps in the future, more trusting.

Virtual reality doesn’t just help one connect with others. It has great potential to help us understand ourselves. The better we know ourselves, the better we understand the world. Isolating ourselves in a crowd to get some space or just introspect becomes easy with VR. Acting different scenarios out and experimenting with all our dreams becomes possible and helps us understand what we really want, without putting our future in jeopardy. Virtual reality, interestingly, has massive potential to record and store our actions, acting as a means of storing our memories (Black Mirror, anyone?). Interestingly enough, it is, as of now, the closest we have come to a symbiotic blend of technology and people.

 

The obstacles and the hope

The VR industry does, of course, have a few hurdles to overcome, the most hindering being the size of the wearable technology and the cost of a device. However, cost of hardware is predicted to fall and that will, in all probability, encourage more people to adopt this exciting platform. Additionally, there will always be detractors of anything new, but if the past is any indication, technology only brings the world closer. And VR will be no exception.

Advancement in technology has always worked towards the benefit of the human race. All we have to do is remember not to abuse it. So, embrace VR for it is definitely a step in the right direction, but don’t forget your immediate surroundings while exploring the environs miles and, maybe, even light years away.


Why Esports Tournaments needs Blockchain

From outdoor games to arcade games to games on PCs and consoles to mobile game, gaming ‘platforms’ have come a long way. With each new platform comes a new style and visual of gaming. However, one thing remains the same – the competition. Be it the group of students who first competed in Spacewar! at Stanford University in 1972 or the teams facing off against each other at esports tournaments worldwide today, all of them are in it for two reasons – the love of gaming and the prize.

Esports today: A lucrative opportunity?

Esports, essentially, means video gaming competitions. Today, it comprises competitive gaming, spectating, gambling or wagers, and entertainment. It has grown into a multi-million-dollar business, poised to reach a revenue of a $1.5 billion in 2020.  It accounts for 500 million fans worldwide, out of which 300 are spectators. Its popularity is such that some believe it might make it as an Olympic sport. As per an article by Steve Menary,

“Esports will be a demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, then a medal event four years later in China, leading to discussions over its admission at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.”

Great! The future looks bright. But how does one become a competitive gamer? The answer is not as simple as one would like it to be. First, it requires hours and hours of practice – not 3 or 4, but 7 to 8 hours, daily. Players have to find a balance between taking care of their health and training for the game. Young people passionate about reaching the top tend to forget about their health – mental and physical. This is true of any career-centric or skill-centric pursuit. Next, every aspiring gamer needs to have a backup plan until they have at “least some indication that they can make money and support themselves with gaming.” Then there’s the research. It is absolutely essential to understand the methods and tactics of those who came before you – and succeeded. In addition, playing against those better than you can help improve your skill. Lastly, you need to be able to lose gracefully. Even the best players lose 30-50% of their games.

Okay, so now you’ve won a few tournaments, your health is fine, you’ve been reading up on your predecessors, and you’re a pretty humble competitor. It’s an easy in to the highest rung of esports gaming now, right?

Expectedly, the answer is: wrong.

You shall not pass: The barriers

The world of esports is greatly unstructured. It is heavily influenced by popularity and availability of the necessary finances. It is only a handful of games like DOTA, League of Legends, Starcraft, and Fortnite that attract most professional players and spectators. Lack of knowledge amongst gamers, regarding other titles, greatly reduces their chances to get a foot in the door. The games mentioned above account for some of the most coveted titles in esports.

To add to gamers’ woes, pro-gaming requires investment in specialized hardware – it’s going to be very difficult to win on a standard PC. Let’s draw a parallel with another sport dependent on machines – F1 Racing. According to Michael Schumacher,

“I hate to take compromises with a racing car. The more standard a car is, the more compromises you have to take.”

You don’t have to have the best machine out there, but it needs to be above average to help complement your skills. Esports is dependent on two things: the machine and the (wo)man.

Next, the industry has been unable to effectively protect gamers against fraudulent activities like scamming or smurfing. There are also innumerable cases regarding pending payments and identity theft. Says Diarmuid Thoma, Director of Fraud at TransUnion:

“What happens when they (hackers/scammers) gain access to your account? One of the things I have learned about gaming specifically is, it’s not all about the credit card. The account itself is worth money”.

Needless to say, things look bleak for new gamers looking to go pro – there are competition scams, unfulfilled payments, phishing, identity theft, increased cost, and lack of adequate knowledge. These problems are exacerbated by the fact that gaming is still not considered a prospective career by society. So, good luck fighting your family.

It’s not just gamers who are affected. Cost of marketing inhibits up-and-coming game studios from getting any air-time for their games, further inhibiting gamers’ knowledge of available titles. It also impacts their capabilities to create good storylines & gameplay, and to invest in spectatorship services. As you will recall, spectators account for 2/3 of esports fans.

Knight in shining armour: Blockchain

The advent of blockchain technology brought with it an opportunity. Blockchain technology has gained ground because of its decentralised approach, increased transparency, increased security, and the popularity of Bitcoin. A blockchain is, in layman’s terms, a public ledger of information that cannot be fundamentally tampered with. So, how does it play into esports?

Security and transparency: Creating a profile on the blockchain helps protect gamers from identity theft as their information, including the tokens and titles earned, is stored in a multi-branched public ledger. If we look at blockchain as a string of blocks, each block has the same information as the previous one plus new data. Hence, to edit the profile, any person would have to change the data in each and every block. This is difficult because no single person has control over a single blockchain. The threat of identity theft is thus alleviated. Security is further enhanced with a cryptographic set of keys.

The presence of a gamer’s profile on the blockchain would help scouts discover potential esports athletes faster. It also ensures that the information shared is accurate, thus benefiting both scout and gamer.

Smart Contracts: Additionally, smart contract templates can help gamers easily navigate the legalese of the esports world. As of now, there are no standard contracts in the world of gaming.

Monetisation: Increased esports spectator ship is a reality. Amazon’s Twitch has redefined the esports space by allowing streaming and recording of game play. This has enabled gamers to reach our homes and offices – any place that has any device. Additionally, this creates increased income opportunities for gamers as well. For example, Singapore’s Bountie, a blockchain-based esports initiative, features seasonal weekly tournaments for professional gamers, allowing them to earn coins or tokens, thus monetizing the space. There is also scope to bring about in-app purchases during spectating.

Decentralization and speed: Gamers are not new to the technology of blockchain, nor are they unfamiliar with the use of digital tokens that define most of the blockchain transactions. Some might argue that digital currency first became popular with digital games. The problem gamers face here is pending payments. Sometimes, they are not paid at all. At other times, the payment takes three to six months to come through. Blockchain expedites this process to a matter of seconds or, worst case scenario, in minutes. The transactions are verified by the decentralised (peer-to-peer) blockchain system and are irreversible.

Mass awareness: Any given blockchain also provides opportunities to gaming studios to build on top of the main chain. These respective studios can then have their own DApps, keeping the token of the main chain as the primary token. This increases the visibility of their games, which was a problem earlier, and helps reduce transaction costs due to the absence of a middleman on blockchains.

The VR/AR factor: Immersive gaming is fast becoming the preferred means of playing and spectating. AR/VR has already made inroads into the blockchain world with Decentraland. As VR/AR hardware becomes more affordable, more people will have access to it. According to statista.com, “In 2022, the augmented and virtual reality market is expected to reach a market size of 209.2 billion U.S. dollars.”

Gaming fans have always been early adopters and the existence of VR/AR on blockchain will help bring immersive technology to the masses faster and more efficiently. This in turn will give a sense of “stadium-style” viewing where spectators would be able to see who is sitting next to them and tickets could also be sold to monetise on the experience.

Healthcare: With blockchain, players can keep count of the number of hours they have been playing, injuries sustained, and amount spent on healthcare. Additionally, a player’s profile with the above statistics and his/her popularity will help healthcare professionals tailor advice to the individual. It also makes it difficult for players to lie to doctors - something that everyone is guilty of doing. Gamers will also be able to assess their skills at different points in time - pre-meal, post meal, after sleep, during stress or anxiety, during exuberance and so on.

Early Adopters

Unsurprisingly, some have already hopped aboard the esports-blockchain train. Bountie ensures quick payments to players and weekly tournaments; DreamTeam is paving the way for efficient use of smart contract by players, in addition to opening esports up to sponsors and advertisers; and Unikrn offers “team ownership, skill and spectator betting applications, a casino group and multimedia content for esports fans.”

A Quick Recap

Undoubtedly, blockchain technology has much to offer to the expanding realm of esports. It makes it easier for newcomers to enter the competitive arena, sans fraudsters, scams, and pending payments; game studios building their apps or games on top of any main chain benefit in terms of reach; gamers are exposed to more than just the popular titles in tournaments, expanding their scope of winnings and competition; ease of entry and access provides more opportunities for all stakeholders - gamers, studios, advertisers - to monetise; lastly, the decentralized approach ensures quicker, cheaper transactions, greater efficiency, smart contracts, and increased transparency.

Thus, sustainable and engaging esports content and opportunities, coupled with the countless economic and structural benefits of blockchain, ensure that the world of esports becomes a way of life and not just a trend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewrossow/2018/05/15/its-time-to-wake-up-the-esports-space-with-blockchain/#27198bbb4ff9
  2. https://medium.com/trivial-co/blockchain-and-ar-vr-a-match-made-in-virtual-heaven-26e54782be56
  3. https://www.igvita.com/2014/05/05/minimum-viable-block-chain/
  4. https://medium.com/@athirahsyamimi/the-fast-growing-esports-market-and-blockchain-1d918fc4b7b2
  5. https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/how-to-prevent-video-game-credit-card-fraud.php
  6. https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Parenting/story?id=5382302&page=1
  7. https://medium.com/@BountieGaming/the-history-and-evolution-of-esports-8ab6c1cf3257
  8. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4047/the_history_of_spacewar_the_best_.php?print=1
  9. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/404233/the-start-of-computer-games/
  10. http://www.playthegame.org/news/news-articles/2017/0416_the-rise-of-esports-and-the-challenges-that-lie-ahead/
  11. https://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2012/03/30/the-10-steps-to-becoming-a-pro-gamer/#686cb4ce7839

History of Esports: From PC to Mobile Tournaments

Today, esports is projected to become a multi-billion dollar market and commands the attention of half a billion fans worldwide, two-thirds of whom are spectators. The rapid growth of the industry in the past few years has transcended the digital realm and created demand for merchandise from fans, with advertising opportunities from brands. Its popularity and impact, even in the traditional sports world, is undeniable. But how did it all start? Who amplified the potential of esports? Who decided which games would be popular? For a better understanding, let’s dive into the 20th century history of esports

1940s - 1960s: Writing the script

There was a time when games were things we played outdoors. Then came the computer, paving the way for digital gaming. 1947 saw the first attempt at a video game and in 1958, we had a moderately recognizable game - Tennis for Two. Finally, 1962 saw the first game designed specifically for computers. The pioneers were a group of young MIT graduates, led by Steven Russell, while the computer was a new $120,000 machine that had just arrived at MIT. This machine was faster than the other gigantic machines on campus and naturally caught the fancy of the young programmers. They created the first non-commercial computer game – Spacewar!  This would later inspire an arcade game with the same name

1970s and 1980s: Setting the stage

Early arcade games started being developed in 1971. This was a massive turning point as it took digital gaming to a wider audience. The first commercial arcade video game, inspired by Spacewar!, was developed in 1971 by Bushnell and was a cosmic failure. The following year, Bushnell founded Atari and that in itself is a major milestone in the gaming industry.

Gaming, at that point, was about receiving the highest score – it didn’t matter whether you were playing alone or against someone.

Then, the PC brought gaming home. Games became a way to pass time or escape from reality. They took the place of books and outdoor games for many. What was then considered “obsessive” gaming would soon lead to a whole new brand of competition – esports.

The first competition that may be considered an esports event took place at Stanford University, in October 1972. Students competed to be the best at Spacewar!, in the hopes of getting a year-long subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. It was in the 1980s, however, that the first video game competition was held – The Space Invaders Championship. Considering that Space Invaders was a household name at this point, the competition attracted approximately 10,000 participants and widespread media coverage.

Video game competition had made its first indelible mark on mass consciousness

In 1981, Walter Aldo Day Jr. founded Twin Galaxies to promote video games and publish its records through publications like the Guinness Book of World Records. In 1983, Twin Galaxies created the U.S. National Video Game Team. He was the captain and the rest of the team was composed of Billy Mitchell (held record high scores for games like Pac-man and Donkey Kong at the time.), Steve Harris, Jay Kim, Ben Gold and Tim McVey. They would later become part of a celebrity culture that defines esports even today. The team was took part in competitions, ran the Video Game Masters Tournament for Guinness World Records, and sponsored the North American Video Game Challenge Tournament.

Since the internet wasn’t a thing yet, people learnt about competitions and scores through word-of-mouth and trade magazines.

With interest growing rapidly, TV became a means of spectating. Starcade (1981-84), a popular TV show, aired arcade game competitions. There was immense entertainment and spectator potential in esports and, as a result, it found its way into  mainstream media.

1990s: Tournaments and the internet

Tournaments continued to be moderately popular and sprang up in different locations and at varying times. These were primarily based on fighting games like the 90s’ Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. But games of a different genre were creeping up on these games. First-person shooter games were taking the stage. As per an article by FoxSports:

“...first-person shooters such as Goldeneye would take advantage of more powerful computers and pave the way for games like Halo and the new Overwatch. Yet for all the competition brewing, there was no actual way to link players with each other on a day-to-day basis.”

The internet changed everything. People were able keep scores, online on message boards, visible by people who didn’t even live in their town or state. Sharing strategies became easier and this growing community would eventually lead to the transition of video game competition into esports.

The 1988 game, Netrek, which was a ‘multiplayer team combat and real-time strategy’ gained ground only in the 90s, primarily due to the improvement in internet connectivity.

According to dotesports.com, the 1997’s Red Annihilation tournament for the First Person Shooter game" “Quake is considered to be the first real instance of esports”. It attracted over 2,000 participants and the prize was the lead developer, John Carmack’s Ferrari. Subsequent weeks saw the establishment of Cyberathelete Professional League, the leading major gaming league. It was founded by Angel by Angel Munoz and held its first tournament later in the year. The following year, it had increased its prize to $15000.

This was an era of FPS (first person shooter), sports, and arcade games. But then came StarCraft: Brood War. A Real-Time Strategy (RTS) game, it relied on the gamer’s long-term planning capabilities, much like chess. This genre was vastly different from FPS, which relied on reflexes. Sadly, it would only reach peak popularity at the turn of the millennium.

The Nintendo World Championships were another milestone of the 90s esports journey.  The tournament toured 29 American cities and the finals took place at Universal Studios Hollywood, California. Their second appearance as Nintendo PowerFest ’94 saw 132 finalists. Blockbuster Video’s  World Game Championships was co-hosted by GamePro magazine. People from the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and Chile were all able to compete.

Esports were covered in some form or the other on television during this time.

Unsurprisingly, the 90s were witness to the establishment and growth of large-scale esports tournaments - Nintendo World Championships (US, 1990), Nintendo PowerFest ’94 (US, 1994), Cyberathlete Professional League (US, 1997), QuakeCon (US, 1996), and Professional Gamers League (Eastern Europe, 1997).

A phenomenon worth noting here is that the players, not the publishers, would decide which games would be given the status of sport.

2000s: Real-time strategy, the professionals, and viewing woes.

2000s saw the rapid rise of professional gamers. There was now a marked difference between amateurs and the ‘pros’. This was particularly noticeable in Starcraft. The gap in skills between players of the game made the title a formidable one and it boomed in South Korea, where it was covered on TV with much gusto.

Around this time, the world video- game consoles were being released with internet connections that allowed players to challenge their friends across the country — and the world. Video game titles got a rewarding system in place, offering in-game perks to winners. Ranking "ladders" were introduced to encourage players to compete for alpha status.

However, video games that focused on RTS needed to retain its appeal in order to attract new players. The genre’s steep learning curve did not help. Publishers needed to find a way to maintain the intrigue of the game, without alienating potential players.  The answer came from a player. As per FoxSports, “A player-created modification of Warcraft III, Defense of the Ancients, hit that sweet spot and gave rise to a genre of games, called MOBAs.”

These were free-to-play, which made them easier to adopt as a new gamer. Expectedly, the player base skyrocketed in the 2000s.

But gaming as a sport was still niche. To promote video gaming as a sport, Major League Gaming was born. Its initial focus was on Starcraft and first-person shooters, particularly Halo 2. Soon, it moved into the tournament space - hosting them on-ground and online. Their ranking system, the MLG Pro Points Ranking System, is now a benchmark “for determining the best competitive players around the globe.” (dotesports.com).

In 2006 and 2007, The USA Network partnered with MLG to broadcast Halo 2, an FPS game on television. It did not make for great viewing and their attempt to attract audiences failed. That is when the industry realised that new sports needed new broadcast media. Enter Twitch.

2010s: Twitch, streaming, and spectators

Twitch, born out of Justin.tv, and now a part of Amazon, came into prominence in 2011. Considered to be the ‘ESPN of esports’, the purpose of its existence was to promote viewership of esports tournaments. An online streaming service, it allows anyone to become their own broadcast network and provides a platform for engagement between the audience and the broadcaster. This is something that was not possible with TV.  Almost immediately after its launch, popular video game players commenced streaming, via Twitch, to the internet.

Within a year of its launch, Twitch.tv had achieved an incredible number of  over 20 million monthly visitors. Less than a year later, August 2013, the number more than doubled, reaching a mark of over 45 million. Interestingly, the most popular game streamed during this period was League of Legends.

Twitch’s success and the growing spectator market for esports led Amazon to acquire it in 2014. As Twitch went mainstream, so did video games, its ‘most popular broadcast category’.

The 2010s didn’t just see an exponential growth in Esports spectating, but also in third-party corporate sponsorships. Developers were already contributing to prize pools, but tournaments were now receiving sponsorships from ‘PC retailers, energy drinks companies, and computer software’. This made it possible for game titles to a award large sums of money.  League of Legends, for example, awarded around USD 30 million over 1749 registered tournaments.

Today, League of Legends has become so popular as an esport that the United States Government recognizes its Pro Players as professional athletes “and award(s) visas to essentially work in the United States under that title”. They are able to procure a non-immigrant P-14 visa to visit the States and compete. It is also of some note that these are the same visas used in NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL to bring players from foreign countries to America for an event/match.

To add further structure to the world of esports, ESL and competitive teams across the globe founded WESA (World Esports Association) in 2016. The objective was to “become the global benchmark for industry-wide standards”.

Today, the best esports athletes make millions and the industry is backed by big names in traditional sports. Teams like Manchester City have already signed esports players - Marcus 'ExpectSporting' Jorgensen and Kai 'Deto' Wollin for FIFA competitions on PlayStation. They have also signed their first esports sponsorship deal with Turtle Beach. While some are embracing this new and thriving culture, others are still skeptical of esports’ “sport” status. There are efforts to get esports included in the Olympics, but whether they will be remains to be seen.

Irrespective of the viability of the Olympic dreams, esports has made its mark and it is quite clear, with the ever-growing number of fans and the expanding business & employment opportunities,  that it is here to stay.

Bonus: The art, storyline, and technology.

As technology improved and became more affordable, investment in it grew. More people were able to buy computers, tablets, and mobile phones. The  improvement in technological capabilities brought with it an opportunity to create games that had stronger plots, better story lines, and appealing visuals. This created not just jobs, but also a desire to back games with something substantial. This opening for better art and stories appealed to the masses - games, even fantasy-centric ones, became relatable to people. It was, and still is, like living a storybook - and there is no way to look at the last page, especially when it comes to RTS games. Esports, like traditional sports, has become thrilling, competitive, and lucrative. And honestly, it might not have been possible had we neglected technology.

This article has been reprised from articles by FoxSports, WUWO Media, and dotesports.com.