The cultural sports phenomenon known as eSports (electronic video gaming competitions) has continued to grow as an industry at break-neck speeds. This year, 2020, revenues are projected to reach $1.5 billion dollars worldwide. In 2020, over 300 universities have grasped the importance and relevance of eSports and have begun offering scholarships for gaming athletes. Viewership numbers for major tournaments have exploded with live tournaments hosting attracting 40,000 and live viewership numbers that rival the NFL and MLB. In 2018, the first ever eSports city franchises launched with each competitor guaranteed a minimum $50,000 salary and full employment benefits, not unlike an NFL/NBA/MLB player. eSports is a key form of entertainment for an increasingly screen-obsessed demographic, in other words our kids.
Esports as we know it today is relatively new, but competitive gaming has been around since the Pong days, while dating myself. When home consoles first became somewhat common in 1972 with Magnavox, Pong competitions became popular. In 1980, the first nationwide Space Invaders competition was held with a rather robust 10,000 participants. A year later, gamers competed in a rather cutthroat first Donkey Kong tournament. In the early 1990s, Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat competitions and tournaments grew in popularity, followed by GoldenEye and other first-person shooters later that decade, later paving the way for Starcraft, Warcraft, Overwatch, Call of Duty and Halo series.
The first televised eSports event was in 2006 for Halo 2 on the USA Network. Broadcasting eSports didn’t prove fruitful until the inception of Twitch in 2011, when players could actively engage with their audiences and vice versa. In 2014, Amazon bought Twitch and League of Legends became one of the most popular eSports games ever (and remains so to this day). League of Legends had its first world championship in 2011, and in 2013, the League of Legends world championships sold out the Staples Center in Los Angeles within minutes of tickets going on sale. It has only gotten bigger since then.
The majority of our young soccer players are also gamers, in fact 68% of all American homes have a gamer living there….with games like EA FIFA SOCCER and PES, the world of soccer has already entered the digital domain. As the poet used to say, if you can’t beat them join them.
On October 16th to the 18th, The Indiana Sports Corporation and GYO will be presenting The Esports Combine a chance to initiate yourselves into the world of Esports. To register please go to the www.combine.gg