How Esports Has Become a Professional Sport

Growing up, some of the best nights were in a basement with friends, drinking Mountain Dew, and hooking up two Xbox 360s via an ethernet cable and accessing the game’s local play.  This enabled the whole room to engage in the same matches.  Today a video gamer’s dream is not in the musty basement, but rather to be on a stage, playing their best game, for the chance to win hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Tournaments around League of Legends (LoL), DOTAOverwatch, Fortnite, and several others have been on the rise over the last several years.  This has created the professional gamer, and has attracted the interests of more than just the gamers, as investors are pouring in, and it is only going to get bigger.

LoL Set The Stage

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Announcement for the 2018 World Championship. Source: League of Legends

LoL is arguably the game that got this whole show going.  A game that has over 100 million players world-wide, LoL started baseline salaries for their best players in 2013.  This was the first time that a game was able to start paying their players when there was not a tournament going on.  The base salary for a starting player in the North American Region makes an average of $320,000, which does not include streaming, tournament winnings, or sponsorships.

The idea of paying the players was to encourage the player to put in massive amounts of time on the game, to stream in order to bring in more revenue and lure players to the game, and to develop players that were going to be very impressive in the tournaments.

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Mettalica providing music video for ELEAGUE Major. Source: Esports Hollywood

The size and power of the tournaments have only continued to grow.  Esports is seeking the assistance of the music industry, by having musical acts like Metallica and Zedd perform live at tournaments.  The idea is to grow the tournament by bringing people something they know they want, music, and getting them hooked on the tournament as well.  Their ties to the music industry don’t just stop with the music however.

Investors, Investors, Investors

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Source: AP

Due to the booming growth of Esports, their have been investors all over placing their faith and their wallet in the industry.  Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time (fight me), has been announced, according to Fox Sports, as leading a investor group that will put $37 million into aXiomatic, a major esports ownership group that includes Team Liquid.  Other notable NBA stars that have invested in esports include: Shaquille O’Neal, Mark Cuban, and Steph Curry.

The music industry has artists investing in esports as well, including Drake, Imagine Dragons, and Jennifer Lopez.  Red Bull is among the major sponsors of esports, with five players signed to their brand: William ‘Amnesiac’ Barton (Hearthstone), William ‘Leffen’ Hjelte (Smash Brothers), Michael LaBelle (FIFA), Darryl ‘Snake Eyez’ Lewis (Street Fighter), and Hoa ‘Anakin’ Luu (Tekken 7).

Also, major professional sports are getting in on the action as well.  The NBA has a esports team for 21 of their 30 basketball teams for NBA 2K, with salaries of $32,000 and a shot at a tournament pool of $1 million.  The NFL will have their Madden esports league televised on ESPN and Disney XD.

Tell us what excited you about Esports!  Which are your favorite games to play or watch streaming of?

Sources: Forbes, DePauliaFox SportsRed Bull

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