eSports has rapidly become a multi-million-pound business over the last few years and now boasts some of the highest paid sports stars in the world. Once a reclusive pastime, eSports is now a major event that fills out arenas around the world.
Top eSports players like Carlos ‘Ocelote’ Rodriguez are feted all over the globe, and can earn upwards of £1m a year. They are like traditional sportspeople in lots of ways, they compete as part of slickly-operated teams, which in turn compete in regional leagues and then globally. Train for 14 hours a day, study strategy, technique and the opposition extensively. Professional gamers possess remarkable reflexes and mental agility and deal with enormous pressure, experience euphoric highs and shattering lows.
South Korea is widely considered by many to be the birth place of eSports, but has now spread throughout Europe and North America. The UK has been a big proponent of e-gaming and will send various teams to upcoming events. For instance, The International Dota 2 Championship, with a huge prize pool of £17m and even more in betting – as UK players bet on eSports, be sure to check out Betway for the best markets on events such as League of Legends Series Summer.
Two years ago, there were over 200m regular viewers of eSports and in 2013, the League of Legends World Championship attracted 32m online viewers, more than double baseball’s World Series and is set to grow exponentially in the next few years.
The 2014 League of Legends World Championship broke records again after attracting 40,000 fans to Sangam Stadium in Seoul, which hosted a football World Cup semi-final in 2002.
In July, over 10,000 fans crammed into Seattle’s basketball arena. The event offered the highest ever prize pool so far – $10.9m, more than golf’s USPGA Championship and was streamed by US broadcasting giant ESPN. In the UK, Sky Sports recently showed the FIFA Interactive World Cup, it was a national first and a huge step forward in making eSports more mainstream.
Expect to see eSports to be coming to a TV near you and become a respected, well-known sport.