Can Esports Athletes Attain the Same Status as Traditional Sports Icons?
Esports rose from people’s enthusiasm for all sorts of traditional sports, including football, tennis, basketball, and others.
The term refers to competitive, sports-related video games, as well as other genres like first-person shooters and real-time strategy games. As such, it is slowly turning into an international sensation. Thanks to the rising popularity of e-tournaments and other events, everyday gamers are now becoming household names, working their way toward the status of top-tier professional athletes.
The Popularity of Esports
Watching and playing esports is more popular than you might think. In 2022 solely, the market exceeded the value of $1.38 billion, and it is expected to reach the amount of $1.87 billion by 2025. The demand for this type of entertainment is higher than ever with 532 million people in the world who watch esports in 2022. And by 2025, this number will probably skyrocket to 640 million. One of the main reasons behind the growing popularity of esports lies in the way that Millenials and Gen Z see the practice. Namely, younger people perceive esports as a professional careerthat is worth pursuing.
The Role of Streaming Platforms
The fact that the biggest esports tournaments built such enormous viewership depends largely on Twitch, a streaming service known as the leading video platform and community for gamers. As opposed to other video platforms such as YouTube that focus on content creators who upload their works for others to watch, Twitch was designed for live streaming. As such, it attracts more than 31 million visitors every single day. Other important live-streaming channels are Facebook Live and YouTubeLive.
Esports as a Lucrative Business
Esports is not just about entertainment; it is also a lucrative business for both individuals and gaming companies. At the moment, gaming companies make heavy investments in esports events. For example, Valve, one of the leading game developers, pays $25.5 million in prizes reserved for a Dota 2 tournament, which is twice more than what’s being paid out at the Masters Tournament. Moreover, the industry has experienced significant increases in other types of investments, which helps the tournament prize money increase at an average yearly rate of 42%.
Today, the industry is filled with well-known teams and players who continue to grow their careers. One such team is surely Team Liquid which consists of more than 60 players who together compete at more esports tournaments than any other group out there. Moreover, Cloud9 is considered the most valuable team, after managing to raise $50 million through series B funding. Next to them, there are individual players like Tyler Blevins aka Ninja, and Felix Kjellberg aka PewDiePie who both earned millions of dollars in revenue. On top of that, Ninja also gathered a significant following which helps him make around $1 million each month just from streaming his gaming activities on Twitch.
Similarities Between Esports and Traditional Sports
Even though it may sound surprising, esports also places a pretty high mental demand on professional athletes. To beat their competitors, professional gamers need to improve their focus, overcome anxiety, boost their confidence, and keep composed after a loss. Moreover, despite the stereotypes of esports being a category for loners, participants go through a high level of socialization where they make contacts, exchange ideas, and even form friendships. Finally, gamers are also at risk of suffering sports-related injuries. For instance, they can develop physical issues such as hand and wrist injuries, or troubles with posture.
Differences Between the Two
The first and most obvious difference comes from the fact that traditional sports are played in person at various sports venues like pitches, fields, and courts. On the contrary, esports is played in virtual settings. Next, even though there has been a significant rise in broadcasting and the functioning of video assistant referees, most traditional sports do not rely on tech innovations to play for their audiences. On the other hand, esports is all about using tech for broadcasting and providing immersive experiences.
When it comes to the points where esports and traditional sports overlap, it is crucial to notice how they often share the same audience, for instance, many football enthusiasts often engage in FIFA games where they can take control of their favorite teams such as Barcelona, Manchester United, or Bayern Munich. Next, esports games usually feature the same players that are active in traditional sports. Finally, the rules of the games also remain the same.
People have been passionate about different kinds of sports for a long time, and thanks to their support, professional athletes gained the status of international superstars. However, the rise of esports helped virtual athletes reach incredible growth in popularity and revenue. Web-based teams and individuals already make millions of dollars, and their progress is expected to increase even more.