A record-breaking audience of 205 million people watched on as Invictus beat Fnatic in the League of Legends World Championship 2018 Grand Final. That saw it eclipse the Monaco Grand Prix, the Super Bowl, The Masters and many more prominent events from the world of traditional sports. Why are so many people watching video games?
Gaming Can Make You a Millionaire
Professional gamers are becoming filthy rich. There are now 81 esports stars that have made more than $1 million through prize money alone at big tournaments. The highest earner, Johan “N0tail” Sundstein, has accumulated $6.9 million during his Dota 2 career. Prize pools are skyrocketing all the time, and these superstars earn a lot more from wages, sponsorship deals and streaming rights, so competitive gaming can be an extremely lucrative business.
It must make many young men wish they had skipped college and simply sat around playing video games instead. You do not even need to be the greatest player to earn a fortune. You just need to have a magnetic personality. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins failed to qualify for the Fortnite World Cup, but he makes around $10 million per year thanks to the popularity of his channels.
Sponsors are desperate to throw money at the esports scene, as they know it is a way of speaking to a young, tech-savvy audience that they otherwise struggle to reach. This cash filters down to gamers, while streamers like Ninja, Tfue, Shroud and Dr Disrespect can charge eye-watering sums to promote products.
A 16-year-old from Pennsylvania won $3 million at the Fortnite World Cup this year, while five members of the team that won The International shared $15.5 million. These young gamers can can now afford mansions, sports cars, luxury vacations and flashy jewellery, simply as a result of their video gaming prowess. People are keen to watch the leading lights in action to learn from them and figure out how to enjoy similar levels of success.
The Action is Amazing
Esports fans can watch a match or a tournament safe in the knowledge that they will be treated to a barrage of relentless, thrilling action. The games are fast-paced and packed with incident, so you never have to worry about defensive shut outs, dull 0-0 draws or cricket matches that plod along for five rain-interrupted days before finishing all square.
Some of the leading esports stars can achieve things that are seemingly impossible. Watch s1mple pull off a 1v5 ace in a clutch moment of a big CS:GO match and you will see what we mean. League of Legends fans still swoon when they remember Faker’s insane Zed play during an iconic duel with Ryu, while there have been many memorable plays at The International and other big events. Yet every match features plenty of exciting incidents and you can always marvel at the level of skill, dexterity and strategy on display.
The esports scene is also alive and dynamic, as developers are constantly updating the leading games via new patches. It ensures that the gaming sector is exceptionally vibrant and it is hard for fans to grow bored.
The Rise of Streaming Platforms
Esports only became a mainstream pursuit thanks to the advent of the streaming platform Twitch. It began broadcasting all manner of leagues and cup competitions, offering millions of people around the world the opportunity to watch top-class gaming action for free, in high definition, wherever and whenever they want. YouTube recognised the potential of esports and set itself up as a major rival, and intense competition between the two platforms has massively benefited viewers.
Younger generations spend their lives online and find watching TV a quaint pursuit. Many people simply do not have the patience to watch an NFL game, which lasts for more than three hours, despite the ball only being in play for one hour, with all manner of commercial breaks thrown into the mix. Esports are perfect for the emerging generations that have grown up with technology and instant gratification.
Nowadays people want rapid, exciting, ongoing action, while concurrently chattering away on forums and social media pages and even live streaming their reactions. Esports fits perfectly with their lifestyles and they can watch the action on mobile devices wherever they are, while the action is 24/7, 365 days a year.
People Love Betting on Games
Watching a big CS:GO, LoL, Dota 2 or Overwatch match can be outrageously exciting. Yet that excitement is dialled up by several notches when you have money riding on the outcome. Researchers at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming have crunched the numbers and they say the global esports betting handle is expected to reach $9.3 billion in 2019 and then increase to $12.9 billion next year.
The bookmakers know how popular esports has become, so many of them have launched esports sections to their sites. However, they do not have years of historical data to help them with their predictions, because esports is a new and rapidly evolving phenomenon. Many also lack expertise within particular esports, and wagering on them can allow you to turn a significant profit from your knowledge.
There are also dedicated sites where you can find the best video game odds and updates, and you will see just how many betting markets are available. You can predict who will be the first to five kills, who will slay the first dragon and so on, while taking advantage of handicaps, totals and other intriguing markets, which all help boost the excitement of watching the action unravel.
Esports is the Future
Esports now boasts 454 million viewers across the world, according to NewZoo, and that number is spiralling with each passing year. Sports like golf, horse racing and baseball are dying out, while the film industry is tanking and book sales are declining. Esports are the future and they are only going to get better due to the rise of AR and VR technology.
It will not be long before esports stars are earning more money and greater levels of fame than traditional sports stars and Hollywood actors. The number of major firms sponsoring tournaments will continue to rise, the scene will grow more professional and traditional pursuits will simply be left behind. People watching video games tournaments are enjoying a glimpse into the future, and it is teeming with exciting possibilities.