What is e-sport and what does its future hold?
In the older generation, names such as Lee Faker, Luka Perkz, and Tae-sang may not be common or even ring a bell for many in this age bracket. Mention players such as Ronaldo and Messi among other footballers, and the people in the older age brackets will be at home. It is not that Faker, Perkz, and Tae-sang are not great in their field but the kind of game they play may not resonate well with the older generation or those who are not tech-savvy. The three are among the most popular players in e-sports. They are all professional players in one of the most popular computer-based games, the League of Legends.
Computer-based video games or what we will be referring to as electronics-sports or e-sports in this article have grown in popularity in the last two decades. This is attributed to growth in the number of people owning gadgets that can play such games including smartphones among other devices.
Popular among the young
Sports commentators see e-sports as an internationally grey area, they may be popular with a large population, especially the young and tech-savvy but a significant proportion of the older folks know very little about it and some may have never heard about them. Aladar Kollar observes that even within the sports betting landscape, the older generation rarely wagers on the games. He adds, „A legtöbb fogadó nem ismeri az e sport fogadás lehetőségeit, ahogy a magyarok az e sportfogadásra általában utalni szoktak. A játékok népszerűségének növekedésével azonban várhatóan még több fogadó, idős és fiatal egyaránt fogad majd kedvenc csapataira és játékosaira. A fogadási tippadók nagyon fontos szerepet fognak játszani az e-sport területén, mind a sportágban magában, mind a szerencsejátékok területén.”
For the sake of those who may not be well familiar with e-sports, let us explain what the games entail. E-Sports are video games that are played in a competitive environment. They range from multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs) to single-player first-person shooters, battle royales to virtual physical sports. The rise of these types of video games is attributed to the creation and control of new trends by the young adult demographics.
Sports pundits observe that one component that is essential in this transformation is the evolution of the fundamental relationship between young adults and sporting activities. There has been a considerable decline in the viewership of traditional sports while e-sports on the other side have been recording high figures. The change has been so significant that popular games on the market have some type of professional circuit.
In explaining how the transformation started, we need to look at South Korea during the severe financial crisis that hit the economy in the early 2000s. The government in an attempt to provide a solution-focused to the growth of the internet and telecommunication sector. Social space known as PC bangs emerged and grew in popularity, almost to the levels of basketball courts. Here, gamers would gather, play, and bond over a game.
Soon, formal competitions began. Korean government oblivious of the popularity of the games sought to regulate it by forming a government body that was solely responsible for the growth of video games and e-sports.
E-sport DOTA 2 and Starcraft are two games that emerged first. They gave rise to a strong network of tournaments which later evolved into large competitions. Starcraft was more popular in the Korean circuit leading to the organization of sponsored leagues. E-sport DOTA 2 was equally popular, especially in the international scene where it has continued to prosper.
It has been attracting a huge following and the prizes associated with this e-sport are equally huge. The 2019 edition had a winner’s prize pool of $ 13.5 million; a figure that sports pundits say is larger than what is offered in traditional sports such as ultimate fighting and golf. Other popular e-sports in terms of prizes, participation, and downloads include:
- League of Legends
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Rocket League
- Heroes of the Storm
- Call of duty, among others
Popular among punters too
In terms of sports betting, the game is also becoming popular, with punters especially the young one wagering and frequenting e-sport betting sites to wager on their favorite teams and players. The number of e-sports betting sites has risen in the recent past, something associated with the popularity of the game as well as the increased number of competitions. Sports betting pundits predict that e-sports may in the future be the most popular game among punters. They foresee a situation where just like in sports viewership, it may surpass the traditional sports in terms of the number of people wagering for their favorite teams and players.
E-sports may be new but the sporting activity is attracting a huge number of players, fans, and even punters. The popularity of the game is associated with technological advancement as well as the shifting culture in sports where the younger generations prefer computer video games over other sports activities. For punters who are looking to wager on the game that may dominate all areas, this is time to familiarize themselves with this landscape.