eSports Helena Kristiansson, ESL Flickr

How eSports turned into an 800 pound gorilla

Competitive video gaming aka eSports has skyrocketed and continues to bring in enormous amounts of money annually, so much so that these events can now be followed on such prestigious channels as BBC or ESPN.

Only few years back, it was hard to imagine that one day competitive gaming would be able to bring masses to stadiums. Now, we can see those competitive gamers (or we might as well call them athletes) immersing themselves in what seems to be fierce battles. With their headsets on, they command their customized keyboards with speed that seems unbelievable to mere mortals, all while tens of thousands of fans, boys and girls alike, cheer them on. While competitive gaming has been around for a while, eSports has made the next – and previously thought to be impossible – step, garnering so much attention that these events can now be profitable.

Dota 2 on ESPN
Dota 2 on ESPN

In the beginning only hardware manufacturers were interested in supporting these competitions, but with the increased popularity, giants like Nissan, Nike, McDonalds and Coca-Cola have all joined the cause, forever changing the landscape of professional gaming in the process. With these changes in mind, we can now legitimately wonder about eSports and the profits companies make, and just how far this whole thing can still go. Numbers don’t lie. During 2014, as many as 205 million viewers have watched some kind of eSports event and that number had increased by 20 percent by last year. If they would come together and establish a new country, eSports viewers would make the fifth most populous nation in the whole world in front of Japan and Russia.

Credit: Helena Kristiansson, ESL Flickr
Credit: Helena Kristiansson, ESL Flickr
The League of Legends season last year was followed by more fans than the NBA finals

These days, it’s not uncommon that an eSports event gets more viewers than a traditional sporting competition. The League of Legends season last year was followed by more fans than the NBA finals, which is why it’s not a surprise these days that these events can fill up stadiums. The industry is such a force to be reckoned with that these organizations are not interested in booking stadiums anymore; they want to build their very own eSports arenas. On YouTube, there are more people following gaming channels than news, movie and educational ones combined. This popularity is nothing new, but the effort in which they manage to bring those fans together is nothing short of remarkable, and definitely a trend that will only get stronger in time until it is not just a trend anymore, but the new way things work.

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