A national hymn sung by thousands of people gathered in one place will immediately make you think of a Football World Cup, or the Olympic Games, but this is not the case here. You are now at the AccorHotels Arena Paris for the European Final of the most famous League of Legends, the MOBA which has more than 100 million unique players. An event that brought together the best European players and 20,000 spectators in a single place plus the 400,000 online spectators. Those statistics could give vertigo but that does not represent much compared to the world championship that brought together 43 million unique viewers with a peak of 14.7 million in the final.
We can also see that the competition brought in $ 6.7 million to the players. Much more than an ephemeral phenomenon, it is a whole economy generated by the eSport that comes to reshape the contours of the sports market and of the world as we know it. Thus, these competitions and this extraordinary sport, represent a market to be conquered for many economic players.
Why so covetousness?
While Deloitte estimated the eSports market to be $ 500 million by 2016, superdatasearch reveals that this estimate was largely exceeded with a market that generated $ 892.8 million, a 19% increase over in the previous year. Thus, the same study reveals that revenues generated are expected to exceed $ 1 billion from 2017 and $ 1.1 billion by 2018. Revenues that come partly from sponsoring, merchandising, game publishers themselves, but also from the sale of tickets and TV rights. Regarding this last point, the competitions are mainly watched on Twitch web tv platform (bought by Amazon with 1 billion dollars). Beinsport, Canal +, Team 21, SFR, created their own program unit and channel trying to capture a portion of this audience. In the UK the 100% eSport GINX channel was created by SKY TV and ITV. Traditional media, therefore, do not want to miss the eSport train and nevertheless the revenue that flows from it. We must also mention Orange, ASUS among others who want to place themselves as equipment suppliers of pro gamers and therefore of the eSport. There are no longer any differences with traditional sports at this point. La Française des Jeux, known for its monopoly over games and bets in France, has organized tournaments.
What about bets?
Those who have games and money on their mind can think bets and it is no coincidence that Pinnacle, Bet365 and Betway allow to bet on esport competitions. There is no official figure on the subject because the phenomenon may seem embryonic but it is easy to imagine that these bets reach the peaks in view of the impressive growth of the esport in the world.
In terms of audience, the same New York firm has warned us that nearly 214 million people are watching the report and the number will increase to 303 million by 2019. The male audience represents 85%, and is rather young, the medium age is situated between 18 and 34 years. This high-growth audience is distinguished in two parts. On the one hand, the people who regularly attend competitions comparable to fans, and on the other a more casual audience that also tends to grow.
Geographically Asia (328 million) remains the biggest market followed closely by North America (275 million) and a Europe that is close to 269 million.
How could we approach the esport without talking about its structures and players?
Faker, the star of the Pro Gamers is considered as god (in the literal sense of the term) and he is the most titled player on the planet. This young South Korean has a busy career at only 21 years. He left high school to join the SKT T1 team. There’s no room for improvisation in pro gaming. It is learned over time with passion as its engine. As the training progresses, we improve and it is in Gaming Houses that the pieces of training are executed. In these places, players train between 35 and 50 hours per week to prepare for the competitions. Coaches, at their disposal, aim to win as many trophies as any traditional sports team. It is therefore not surprising that a high school in Stockholm has integrated eSport into the curriculum of its students.
In the United States, the pro gamers receive scholarships as well as the quarterback of the university team or the pivot of the BasketBall team. Recall that the United States recognizes eSports as a sport in its own right since 2013. Also in the United States, foreign players can claim a P-1A visa that is issued to athletes.
It is no coincidence that the very famous NBA is launching a professional championship in 2018 which will bear the name of NBA2K ealeague. It will consist of 17 teams. NBA stars such as Shaquille O’Neal and Rick Fox have invested in the esport and so did the well-known footballer Ronaldo.
Many want to be a player in this market. Doubt is no longer allowed :
Esport is a sport!
It does not innovate but does exactly like all the great European football teams that have created an esport team. What you read is clear: teams, sponsors, bets, stadiums like the Blizzard Arena in Los Angeles. Esport has made its place and it continues to grow.
And what has Africa to do with all of this? Where is the African market placed in accordance to the rest of the world? …The answer in a few days!
Translation by Lavinia Enache