There was a time not too long ago when only the most passionate gamers had even heard the term, esports. But it is not that way any longer as the tournaments are more frequent and the prize money is soaring after the global pandemic of 2020 curtailed things for obvious reasons. One of the biggest tournaments in the world, Dota 2’s The International 10, is going on now and has a staggering sum of $40 million in prize money with more than $14 million for the winners!
That is a lot of money and the players who will receive it are only household names in the homes whose consoles and PCs buzz with the fever pitch competition of League of Legends, Dota 2, Fortnite, and many others. But to anyone else who doesn’t know esports from carports, their names are as anonymous as the games these professionals play.
But industries cater to their core demographic while trying to woo new customers into the fold. And for those who have neither the time nor the inclination to get to know what this whole esports craze is about, that’s okay because there are millions worldwide who are very familiar and their numbers are growing.
Ironically, the Covid-19 pandemic crippled millions of businesses and paralyzed the global economy but it only served as a conduit to grow one of the few markets that could have possibly benefited from mass quarantines, thereby eliminating its recreational competition – esports. Only the live tournaments were adversely affected but everything else in the world of esports experienced stunning growth because fans could view their favorite players on Twitch or other streaming services without having to leave their respective homes.
Although Covid-19 remains a plague upon our society, in the world of esports, it was nothing short of a dose of steroids. Even the demographics that would normally not fit the esports profile began to wander over to see what it was all about. While more conventional forms of recreation were shut down, those who might ordinarily go to a baseball game or watch a NASCAR event were suddenly exploring esports. It was, “any port in a storm”, but now that the storm clouds have ostensibly lifted, many of them have become fans and aren’t going anywhere.
Bookies Get in on the Action
You always know that an industry is experiencing monumental growth when other industries are impacted by it. In this case, we see that not only are more and more people participating in, and watching, esports but there has been a sudden demand for betting on it. And of course, the bookies are only too happy to oblige. The best sports betting sites are all offering odds on esports and the offerings are getting more abundant by the day.
The Game Haus, an analytically based multimedia corporation that covers both sports and esports, released the following report: “The huge growth in esports has given rise to new markets for online gambling, with high-stakes events available for betting worldwide. Today, leading online bookmakers are not only offering traditional sports like football, cricket, and tennis but also esports tournaments for games like League of Legends. Esports accessibility is also creating many opportunities for various gaming companies and fans. Last year, most people relied on technology and fast internet, incorporating everything from instant messaging applications to video call software. That allowed professional players and tournament organizers to communicate effectively, attract an online audience and run live streams. The esports market was around the billion-dollar mark annual revenue in 2019, and it has continued growing over the last year. The audience numbers are also growing bigger every year, with… millions of fans and steamers are joining to enjoy the playthroughs, esports, and live streams.”
It is no surprise, of course, when we consider that the television ratings for every major traditional sport have all been bolstered by betting. There is nothing that will make a disinterested party invest their time and energy in a sporting event more than having a little skin in the game.
It is why the NFL’s ratings have always been vibrant because it is a sport tailor-made for betting. Ironically, the commissioner, Roger Goodell, and all the NFL commissioners before him have long postured that sports betting was intrinsically evil and its very presence could impeach the integrity of the game.
However, it is funny how Mr. Goodell changed his tune when the federal law banning sports betting in all but a few United States jurisdictions was overturned, paving the way for the likes of DraftKings to partner with the NFL and give them a piece of the action both directly and indirectly. Below are two completely different sentiments from the same commissioner.
Before the U.S. legalization of sports betting, Roger Goodell was quoted on March 28, 2017: “I think we still strongly oppose legalized sports gambling. The integrity of our game is No. 1. We will not compromise on that.”
After the legalization of sports betting, Roger Goodell was quoted almost four years later on March 18, 2021: “We’re going to find ways we can engage fans through legalized sports betting.”
And we surmise, so too will esports!