Since time immemorial, human beings have competed in physical competitions to prove that they are the best athlete or a part of the winning team. Alongside this, people have always admired and rewarded the prowess of great thinkers, game players and logic experts. Combine these two pursuits, and what do you get? The answer is eSports.
Although a relatively new introduction to the mainstream entertainment arena, eSports have been around for a while. However, as interest grows and funds are directed toward professional teams of e-athletes, more and more people are becoming aware of the skill, training and dedication needed to excel in this form of competition.
But what might that mean for the future?
The History of Gaming
First of all, let’s look at the recent past. Since the first-ever video games burst into public awareness in the mid-20th century, people have been hooked on the concept. A brand-new industry was born as home consoles developed and became available for the mass market. Although arcade culture enjoyed a bright yet brief existence, people wanted to play games in their homes, whilst out and about, or when using public transport. They wanted adaptability and accessibility. This is now a reality thanks to the rollout of quality Wi-Fi and reliable mobile data. We can all play various gaming titles from our PCs, laptops, smart TVs, smartphones and other mobile devices whenever and wherever we like.
It has become apparent that one of the most popular online gaming genres is iGaming. This umbrella term covers casino games and sports betting and therefore enjoys a close relationship with the eSports industry. Slot games are the most popular choice at online casinos for those playing at home. Due to their continued popularity, there is now a wide selection of different titles, with each casino platform creating innovative and exciting games. Some of the most popular include Rich Wilde and the Book of Dead, Big Bass Splash and Sweet Bonanza.
Other prominent gaming genres include MMORPG, action-adventure, FPS, battle royale and strategy.
What Makes an eSport, though?
Moving on to the professionals, though, it is interesting to see what exactly falls under the term ‘eSport’. Although the definition can still sometimes remain vague, an eSport is generally defined as a multiplayer video game played competitively in front of spectators and often by qualified professionals. Of course, this rule has some exceptions, and debates still rage around whether online versions of classics like chess or Scrabble count as eSports. However, when we refer to the eSports industry, we generally mean the big leagues, which feature teams like Team Liquid, FaZe Clan and Fnatic.
These groups of gaming pros specialise in titles like VALORANT, CS: GO, Apex Legends and Dota 2, and prizes at tournaments can reach over $40 million.
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Looking to the Future
So, eSports has arrived on the scene and continues to go from strength to strength, building a solid fanbase and pulling in funding from plenty of big-name brands. What’s next? And what does this mean for traditional sports and the athletes who play them?
The good news is that many traditional or physical sports teams are now investing in their eSports set-ups, simultaneously offering legitimacy to the emerging sector and ensuring they don’t get left behind. Sports simulators like F1 Manager, NBA 2K, Madden NFL and EA FIFA have always proven popular with players. The institutions they are based on are now busy building an eSports empire to sit alongside the established physical sports leagues. For sports like F1, this means creating a pipeline from eSports to the ‘real thing’ as drivers can hone their virtual skills before sometimes moving up to driving an actual vehicle. However, not all skills are as transferrable. For example, the eSports team connected to a football team is more likely to specialise in League of Legends or CS: GO, although some have entered big tournaments playing EA FIFA and Pro Evo.
The future looks bright for this new industry, but that doesn’t mean traditional sports and their accomplished athletes must lose out.