Currently at $1.5B, global esports revenue will grow 26% by 2020 as it attracts an even more mainstream audience. This increase will be fueled by a viewership projected to grow 12% each year and a swelling number of third-party investments. In addition to receiving indirect revenue from investments, Overwatch and League of Legends are projected to grow their direct revenue by selling brand sponsorships, advertisements, ticket sales, and team merchandise.
Video game companies like Activision Blizzard, Riot Games and Valve continue to support their flagship esports titles with player franchising agreements and larger prize pools. Advertisers and brands like the The Kraft Group (owner of New England Patriots) and Mercedes-Benz are among the most notable, with several other sports teams and brands making financial commitments. Twitch and YouTube continue their battle for gaming video and esports dominance.
Players from Chinese eSports organisation LGD Gaming practicing at the one of the team’s villas in Shanghai. Peter Stebbings / AFP
eSports is said to be on a trajectory to become bigger than the US National Football League (NFL) or the National Basketball Association (NBA), or indeed, any so called “true sport”.
Mr Leonsis told the audience at the Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) Global Summit earlier this month said “It will dwarf the NFL, it will dwarf the NBA, because first and foremost, it is a global phenomenon.”
eSports will be a demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia, and then a medal event four years later in China.
Alex Lim, the South Korean secretary general of the International eSports Federation (IeSF), says ninety per cent of the worldwide population is on the internet and half are playing games,” .
Global revenue from eSports soared 41 per cent to US$696 million with $266m coming from sponsorship, according to the eSports research consultancy Newzoo.
Olympic decision makers are still debating over the possibility of esports entering the world’s leading international sporting competition. The discussion opened in April, with the news that esports would be making an appearance at the 2018 and 2022 Asian Games in Jakarta and Hangzhou, with esports being elevated to medal sport status in the latter event. In August, it was announced that esports was up for contention to be added to the roster of sports at the 2024 Games, despite an earlier comment from IOC President Thomas Bach that some “violent” esports titles are “contrary to all theiir values”.
Four major decisions were made when leading representatives of the Olympic Movement met in Lausanne, Switzerland on the 28th of October, following invitations from the IOC:
- Firstly, acknowledgement of esports’ burgeoning growth helped lead the Summit to recognize the potential for engagement of the youth with the Olympic Movement;
- esports “could be considered as a sporting activity”. This follows some research which suggests that the preparation, training and capacity for physical demands at esports’ highest level mirrors that of traditional sports
- For IOC recognition as a sport, esports titles’ content “must not infringe on the Olympic values”. This statement parallels earlier concerns outlined by Bach;
- Additionally, the IOC necessitates the existence of “an organization guaranteeing compliance with the rules and regulations of the Olympic Movement”. This body would manage issues such as anti-doping, betting, and match-fixing.
The decision of what constitutes an Olympic sport is an ever-changing, growing thing, alive with the context of its time and the preferences of its committee.
Team Liquid has sponsored champions in games such as Starcraft, League of Legends and more. Formerly, Liquid’s Dota team was American, but their European one took the crown in a more volatile and profitable environment.
The current roster had varying success throughout the pre-championship season. They performed well in the grand Russian event Epicenter but failed to do as well in the Dota 2 Asian Championships. Still, their victory was foreshadowed in their victory at DreamLeague Season 7’s Atlanta finals, where they took first over other international teams.
The most impressive—and game winning—was one final Juggernaut slash by Miracle-, superpowered by a Double Damage rune that helped to wipe out the entirety of Newbee.
Nothing is certain just yet, but discussions are a positive step forward for the recognition of esports at the Olympics.
Esports will be present at the Asian Games, the Olympic Council of Asia announced in April. An event recognized by the IOC, the Asian Games’ esports program will likely help push along the Paris Olympic bid committee with their discussions.
Team EnVyUs has secured a major investment from Hersh Family Investment and Interactive Group, according to an ESPN report.
The group is led by Kenneth Hersh, an executive in the oil and natural gas industry, and is based in Texas. The company reportedly offered EnVyUs a $35 million deal, which would make it one of the biggest acquisitions in the esports sector. EnVyUs is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, but will relocate to Dallas to align with its reported Overwatch League slot, ESPN said.