While E-Sports is still unknown or uninteresting to many, especially those with no interest in video games, it appears that the industry is growing and growing, and hopefully will continue to do so in 2017. Today we’re going to look over what is causing the industry to blow up like this, and what big events are coming up later this year.
Obviously, the first point I have to make is that the industry is constantly becoming more popular. According to market research company Newzoo (which specialises in gaming), there are almost 150 million e-sports fans around the world, 148 million to be exact, the company estimates that 22% of male American millennials watch e-sports, equivalent for viewing figures of many traditional sports (of the same demographic), Baseball for example. Also, last year, e-sports events have been selling out multiple venues/arenas for different events, for example, Madison Square Garden in New York, Staples Centre in Los Angeles, and so many more for different events, which shows that LAN events are definitely becoming more popular, something I’m particularly happy about. This could mean large LAN events happen more often, and that this could mean more worldwide destinations for LAN events could be something that happens, for example, more different locations in Europe, Australia, Other parts of the Americas outside of the US, and more different locations across Asia could be great places for more LAN events to happen. This has already started this year actually, with Intel Extreme Masters coming to Sydney a few weeks ago, for one of my personal favourite CSGO events ever, and Australia’s biggest e-sports event so far.
Accompanying the rise in popularity of LAN events, is the rise in the prize money for tournaments, specifically LANs. An example would be The International Dota 2 Championship, which is the richest e-sports tournament in the world. The total purse for the event was just over $20 million, contrasting with conventional sports events, such as The Masters, which had about half the payout. The winning Chinese team, named Wings Gaming, took home over $9 million, which was split between it’s 5 team members who took home $1.87 million each. Now of course, not every single e-sports title will give you $9 million, even for the most popular e-sports titles after Dota 2, namely LoL (League of Legends) and CS:GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive), for example, over the course of their careers, the top CS:GO players have a few hundred thousand dollars to their names, although this will most likely be set to increase as CS:GO has had a few “million-dollar” events, and the number of these will probably go up due to the industry’s success.
Although, not everything is looking great right now, particularly for the Overwatch scene. This is one of the newest e-sports titles out there right now, with the earnings of Timo “Taimou” Kettunen (the highest earning Overwatch player as of yet) being little over $30,000, although the game has huge potential, and will most likely grow to be a staple of FPS e-sports. The money earned by the players isn’t the problem however, the problem is the Overwatch League, Blizzard’s idea for a region-based, traditional sports-like e-sports league, with real sports teams and businesses buying slots in certain cities, and then forming a team who will play for that city. Although there are so many questions, for example: “Do you have to be from that city or the surrounding area to play for them?” as this is what confuses many people, as it could mean a shortage of professional players in some areas, and current teams splitting up. Another question is: “Where will the cities be? What cities will be chosen?”, a very big, also unanswered question, as right now, most of the best players in the world are in South Korea, but South Korea is such a tiny country, with maybe 2 major cities, Seoul and Busan, whereas the US has many large cities, yet their players are not at the same calibre, and all the best NA teams have mostly EU players on their rosters. I won’t go into any more detail about the OWL, but the constant unanswered questions, high slot buy prices, has meant that a lot of teams have fallen apart and disbanded. For example, so far in 2017 we’ve lost teams like Reunited, Complexity Gaming, Splyce, Team Dignitas, and a few others that have disbanded their rosters due to lack of tournaments, especially on LAN, as well as uncertainties about the OWL. There is a LAN event going on now, APEX Season 3 in Korea, although only 2 western teams (Rogue and EnVyUs, the best western teams right now) are actually competing, due to the incredibly high calibre of the Korean teams. Hopefully, all will be revealed about the OWL soon enough, as it will come in the third quarter of 2016.
None the less, 2017 is definitely going to be a big year for e-sports, with more events, more media interest, more prize money, more big plans, and many more fans who want to support the industry.