Everything evolves, including the sports we know and love.
Imagine watching a football game in 1905, before the forward pass was invented. (Also that year: 18 football players were killed and 159 seriously injured; hence the invention of the forward pass.)
Or think about watching a basketball game in 1950 before the invention of the shot clock, like the barnburner between the Fort Wayne Pistons and the Minneapolis Lakers that finished 19-18.
Or step back to the year 2000 and try to conceive of competitive video gaming extending beyond a niche audience.
Yet, in 2017, esports are on pace to earn $696 million in revenue. And the industry has taken notice. Game developers are increasingly building esports-friendly features into their titles, while corporate giants are finding ways to sponsor teams and events. The most recent example is the Madden NFL Club Championship, which is a collaboration between Electronic Arts and the National Football League that encourages the average gamer to compete for the $400,000 prize pool and two tickets to Super Bowl LII.
Are competitive gamers the next wave of athlete? Did you just roll your eyes at that idea – like my grandfather did at the notion of a shot clock?
What makes an athlete: A training regimen? Some “League of Legends” players train for 12-14 hours every day.
Or is it a display of physical agility and stamina? The best “StarCraft” players can get up to five or six hundred actions per minute. That’s pretty agile.
These players even suffer season- and career-ending hand and wrist injuries.
“A lot more of it is willpower than people think,” said professional gamer Sam “Octane” Larew. “Obviously skill comes into the picture, but it is a lot more than your ability to play the game. (There are) similarities with sports – in terms of the team aspect, drive to improve, never being satisfied, that is all there.”
The idea that we’re just a few years away from dubbing competitive gamers “athletes” is not too big of a stretch, especially as esports popularity continues to show no signs of slowing.
In 2016, Goldman Sachs put the value of esports at $500 million and expects the market to grow at 22 percent annually compounded over the next few years. In fact, by 2020 esports is expected to reach $1.48 billion in revenue and 589 million in viewership.
Even the way people are watching esports is changing. In the past, the focus was always in the match and the moves made within the game. Today, however, spectators are much more likely to attach themselves to a specific player or become a fan of a team.
“It is exploding right now,” said Rodger Saffold of the Los Angeles Rams, who bought his own professional esports team, Rise Nation, in 2014. “If you are going to call esports sports, then these guys are athletes, I can’t put it simpler than that. And the sky is the limit.”
Esports is growing in popularity, but there are still plenty of opportunities to jump into the game. Give The Trade Group a call at 800-343-2005, and discover how our team can create your next esports event.