eSport is the fastest growing sport in the world. It began as an obscure trend that grew out of LAN parties and Korea superstardom and became one of the richest and most spectated fringe sports in the world.
There are still many people who don’t take eSports seriously, including those who have yet to learn of their existence, but the sporting world has certainly taken note and are going to great lengths to embrace this industry’s players and fans.
Soccer Clubs are Signing FIFA Players
Players of the officially licensed FIFA soccer game are being hired by the biggest teams in Europe to represent their clubs. They don’t earn the 6-figure weekly sums that are paid to the club’s top players, but they still earn their keep, with the clubs benefiting from the marketing potential that these players bring to the table.
There is also an ePremier League, which is designed to mirror the English Premier League, arguably the biggest domestic soccer league in the world, with one player representing each team.
The “real” players of these clubs have helped to boost the popular of FIFA games over the years by making them a mainstay in dressing rooms and hotel rooms while on the road. This, combined with FIFA’s ultimate team, has helped to make a strong connection between real players and their electronic counterparts, which in turn has helped to make eSports professionals famous in their own right.
Just like their professional, high-paid counterparts, these players earn a wage from the club and also sign sponsorship deals on the side.
The Big Events are Being Held in Famous Stadiums
eSports are huge, with thousands upon thousands of spectators flocking to watch the biggest events. Due to their sheer size and popularity these events can no longer be confined to the back rooms of arcades and internet cafes and are now being held in stadiums all over the world.
In many cases, eSports championships are being held in huge basketball stadiums, such as the Barclays Centre in New York, which played host to the Overwatch Final and to the 20,000+ spectators that showed up to watch it. These events are also broadcast live, where they are watched by many millions more.
eSports Teams are Joining Forces with Sports Teams
European soccer teams aren’t the only ones signing eSports players. NBA teams have also been signing players, focusing on League of Legends, a battle arena game that draws some of the biggest numbers in the eSports industry.
There is also a Madden Championship contested between the best Madden players in the world and endorsed by all 32 teams in the NFL, and there are similar events being arranged for many other major sports and their corresponding eSport titles.
It gives these major sports leagues and teams the chance to tap into a new market, because while it’s safe to assume that players and fans of Madden games will also tune-in to watch NFL games, the same can’t be said for League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Counter-Strike. Everyone is now waking up to the potential that these gaming communities have and are experimenting with ways to capture them and market to them.
They Could be Introduced to the Olympics
It seems absurd to suggest even for fans of the genre, but in less than a decade we could see eSports at the Olympic Games.
A spokesperson for the Olympic Committee recently stated that eSports don’t meet the criteria needed to be included, but the same has been said about many other popular events in the past and eSports have been given a head-start. Not only are they one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now, with a truly global following that spans many cultures and languages, but they have already been added to the schedule for the 2022 Asian Games.
Many have seen this as a precursor to eSports being included in the biggest sporting event of them all. And for anyone arguing that eSports don’t require the same athleticism as sprinting, long distance running, and other high-energy events, you’re right, but the same could be said for shooting events, which, like eSports, require concentration and dexterity above anything else.
But ultimately, it doesn’t matter if it makes sense in the spirit of the contest or not, what matters is that it’s popular enough to draw a huge crowd, to become a leading event and to grow the status of the Olympics all over the world, and eSports fit that criteria perfectly.
The 2024 Summer Olympics will be held in Paris, France, and if it is not introduced there then we could very well see it being introduced in 2028, when the games will be held in Los Angeles, California.
The Betting Markets are Just as Big
eSports Betting has been one of the main diving forces behind the success of these games in Europe, and they have also proved to be a good barometer for their success. A few years ago a leading betting exchange noted a significant increase in eSports bets so they started paying more attention to them. Before long they were taking more bets on eSports than any other sport except for soccer.
At the same time betting sites were reporting news like this, eSports events were being staged in bigger stadiums and they were being played for more money. The betting markets could prove to be an instigator of growth for this industry, just like it has done for soccer and countless other sports.