The exponential rise in the popularity of esports has made people seriously reconsider whether the world of competitive gaming should be considered a genuine sport. It certainly falls within the definition of competitive activity, but whether or not it can ever be considered a conventional sport along with the likes of baseball, soccer and basketball is another question entirely. However, as esports becomes more accessible and audiences continue to grow, the argument in favor of esports being a legitimate sport is becoming stronger.
A Genuine Spectator Sport
Any good sport needs a committed fan base. Esports has always proved popular with video game enthusiasts, ever since the first live events were held. However, as high-speed internet becomes more accessible to everyone and live streaming becomes the norm, the worldwide audience of esports continues to grow considerably. In 2021, global esports audiences totaled approximately 474 million. By 2024, this number is expected to exceed 577 million viewers. These numbers are particularly impressive when you consider that some traditional sports only bring in a fraction of these audience figures.
Every soccer fan has their favorite footballer and every basketball lover can name their preferred outfielder. As online streaming and broadcasting make esports increasingly accessible, the best video game players are no longer anonymous names behind virtual graphics. The likes of N0tail, Faker, and Lee Jae-dong are just some of the top-tier talent currently making waves on the esports scene. Unlike traditional sports players, esports professionals don’t have to worry about age and physical condition forcing them into early retirement. Esports fans can look forward to following their favorite players for years to come.
Esports Sporting Careers
The boom in esports hasn’t just created a generation of professional video gamers, it has also spawned an entire career sector. For many, becoming a professional video game player is still the ultimate dream. However, those lacking in skill with the keypad can still pursue a rewarding career in the industry. Teams and professional players need managers, while an increase in live events and tournaments has also created a need for event organizers and commentators. Esports journalism is also a growing career sector.
Tournaments and Professional Leagues
When esports was in its infancy, professional tournaments were limited to a few annual events. Today, hundreds of smaller tournaments are held every year, while several dozen large events attract global audiences. The explosion in popularity of esports has also led to hundreds of leagues and professional teams being created.
Diverse Gaming Titles
Although a few big titles dominate the esports sphere, the range of titles on offer make it an appealing field of play. Some of the most popular titles put a focus on cooperative play, with Counter-Strike and Call of Duty proving particularly enticing. However, battle arena and beat ‘em up titles are also favored by the masses. The diverse range of competitive gaming titles not only makes the field more accessible to would-be players, but it also gives audiences considerable choice when it comes to viewing options, just as with traditional sports.
Advertising Revenue and Sponsorship Deals
Esports has grown so much in popularity in recent years that the sector generates some significant advertising revenues. By the end of 2021, esports advertising revenues are expected to reach approximately 226 million dollars in the United States alone. As esports continues to become a more legitimate sporting sector, sponsorship figures are also on the rise. In fact, it estimated that sponsorship revenues will total almost 600 million dollars by the end of 2023.
With more tournaments and championships being held than ever before, betting opportunities are more varied than ever. Nowadays, esports fans looking to capitalize on the success of their favorite teams and players can leverage cash on the outcome of events and fixtures. Sites like 1337PRO are essential resources for those looking to bet sensibly on esports.
A New Olympic Category?
It might be a while before esports is designated a full-fledged category alongside conventional sports at the Olympic Games, but that day might not be as far off as you’d think. If the announcement of the Inaugural Olympic Virtual Series is anything to go by, virtual events may one day soon become a staple fixture alongside traditional sporting categories.
There are plenty of reasons why esports can be called a legitimate sport. It certainly fulfills all the requirements of competitive activity. Enthusiastic acceptance by hundreds of millions of followers worldwide is another clear argument in its favor. Broadcasters, advertisers, and sponsors are also taking note. With esports revenues already exceeding those of Major League Soccer and the European Football League, don’t be too surprised to see esports outpacing conventional sports in terms of popularity in just a few years.