Step aside traditional sports — Esports have taken over.
The first video game I played was on the Sega Genesis, somewhere near the mid 90’s. Being the youngest brother out of three, I had to spend most of the time watching them play. There was no other way to watch players as a kid. The Internet was still early in the mid 90’s, and there was no technology at the time on the Internet that would allow gamers to stream video games from their homes.
I knew video games was not just for geeks and nerds. It had a place in our society. I just didn’t know when it would take off. It was in the first few months of 2012, when there was a live streaming on Riot’s League of Legends website. Team SoloMid (TSM) was playing some team (don’t recall), and there were over 100,000 viewers on the live stream. This is when I knew something interesting was going on here.
Esports was becoming a mainstream thing, especially in North America.
Esports have been around for the longest time, however. Doom, Starcraft, Street Fighter, and other video game series have been around way before League of Legends. I don’t intend to talk about history so much in this post, but rather the current state and where we go from here.
Few days ago, it was rumored that President Trump was planning to meet with all commissioners from all major league sports in the U.S. There are rumors that all sports leagues are to be cancelled or delayed significantly. As a basketball fan (and a LeBron fan), I am devastated by this. It’s sad, but there’s no other way. You don’t want to put people’s lives in danger during this pandemic.
However, Esports have resumed.
It makes sense, during a pandemic such as the one we have been living, people stay home. What do you do when you are bored? You watch online entertainment content, or you play video games. Or maybe you cook — whatever.
In fact, viewership has been the strongest ever. Companies like Tencent are killing numbers, as I explained in my post last month. Kids aren’t going to school, you think they are picking up a book to read? Nah, they’re playing video games, and watching their favorite streamers online. It just makes sense.
Many gamers from the Generation Z have made it an habit to watch their favorite video game streamer from YouTube or Twitch. Although free to watch, the viewership trends bring in advertisers that eventually help companies (Google and Amazon in this case) to invest in the video game industry. Parents (Generation X or even Boomers) are noticing, and Millenials aren’t too different either from Generation Z.
Many people doubted Esports in the recent years due to the volatility with the organizations and team. Which video game will last the test of time? Which video game will be over taken? People know how technology improves fast very, and what was popular today may very well be obsolete within the next decade.
Although those are fair doubts, the reality is that an online videogame such as League of Legends will not be going away anytime soon. Just like Basketball, there no activity that can “kill” it. It’s unique in its own ways, and the video game developers are dishing out content to keep its fan base and increase it.
Taking League of Legends as example, there are several leagues spread around the regions of the world. North America, Europe, China, South Korea, and etc. Unlike U.S. sports (Olympics do not count), there is an event that bring out the best teams of each region and compete with each other. It’s truly an international sport.
Few months ago, it was revealed that the 2019 League of Legends’ World championship garnished over 100 million viewers, with a peak of 44 million concurrent viewers. This is crazy.
Global audience is expected to increase over 276 million viewers by 2022.
ESPN already have their own branch for Esports. I predict more traditional media will cover Esports, and League of Legends will be the top dog.
I can already hear people saying “No that is ridiculous, it’s only a video game. There’s no athleticism.” 100 years ago, people involved in blue collar jobs were paid the most in community. Today, if you can sit and be a code monkey, you can be paid a lot more than blue collar workers. Or better yet, be an online video game streamer and make millions by playing video games?
That is ridiculous, but people seem to accept it today. Change is hard to embrace, I know.
Don’t get me wrong though, Super Bowls’ popularity won’t be going away within the next years. I think a sport like Basketball and Soccer will keep expanding worldwide, and competition will keep growing. I’m not saying traidtional sports are doomed, but I am saying Esports are taking over the competitive sports scene.
I don’t even think naming them “Esports” is fair at this point. A Software developer doesn’t hold an“e-job”, they hold a job — just like the dude fixing your toilet.
The world is changing its mentality. As I said, I am a fan of a sport like the National Basketball Association (NBA). I don’t think the NBA is going anywhere. I think all traditional sports will be here for a while, but I think Esports will grow much more and eclipse these sports.
As the Internet is becoming more accessible to 3rd world countries, any kid with a computer device and an Internet connection can come online and compete with the rest of us who have been playing for years. Competition is growing for Esports.