For the uninitiated, eSports remains a bit of a joke. Not being prepared to look past the notion that it’s just ‘teenagers playing ‘shoot em up’ games,’ means that these (mainly) middle-aged fuddy-duddies are missing the point entirely.

The reality is that the world of competitive video gaming is a fast-growing international phenomenon. It’s not uncommon for the best players to earn in the millions, paid for by those who attend live events in their thousands, and the incredible amount of worldwide sign ups to streaming services.

The buzz surrounding a live event is, some would say, just like going to a football match or similar, where the anticipation and excitement often reaches fever pitch.

Competitors from different leagues or teams play all over the world, and the games that appear to be the most popular are Fortnite, Call of Duty and FIFA.

The same games that many others are playing at home in their bedrooms, hence why they look up to those that are amongst the best on the planet.

A recent report went as far as suggesting that 380 million people worldwide will watch eSports this year, including 165 million eSports enthusiasts (a term that describes frequent, as opposed to occasional, viewers).

North America, China and South Korea appear to be the most popular areas for followers, and a 2017 tournament attracted more than 80 million viewers!

$1bn in revenue

The money that can, and is being made by those corporations willing to broadcast such events, has seen the big boys such as Disney now position themselves at the forefront.

The revenue available within the sport was expected to surpass $1bn by the turn of the year, allowing those brands, as much as the players themselves, to enjoy the fruits of such a lucrative market.

Indeed, the money available is often beyond comprehension. Earning seven figures as an elite level player is not uncommon, and it has seen the tide begin to turn for those who were once castigated by their families for ‘wasting their time playing video games.’

A League of Legends tournament from 2017 generated $5.5 million in ticket sales alone, whilst brands continue to spend in the region of $700m per year on endorsements and sponsorships.

Traditional sports enthusiasts perhaps find it difficult to understand the devotion to those who use a games console as their weapon of choice, but there’s no denying that eSports players retain an almost ‘God-like’ status amongst the gaming fraternity, in much the same way as high-profile sports men and women do.

In fact, in the United States more than 50 of their colleges have recognised eSports programmes, and prize money that is earned is generally put towards scholarships.

Whether we like it or not, eSports is here to stay, and as it continues to grow, both globally and culturally, we can expect the numbers will continue to rise exponentially.

What’s your opinion on eSports?

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