Five years ago, when asked what eSports was, most people would have thought you’d made a typo and meant sports instead. But, after a huge campaign by the eSports industry, including eSports Wales, far more people in the mainstream understand what the industry is – and a great deal are engaging with it. Major eSports team Fnatic announced in August 2020 that they were to sign Welsh player Chris ‘crr’ Williams. Could this help add further legitimacy to the industry for those who still don’t really understand it?
— crr (@ohcrr) August 21, 2020
eSports Players’ Success
The success of some of the key participants in eSports has been enough to show that the industry isn’t just playing games. Some players are renowned to have earned six figures for some of their gaming. While the day-to-day training does take its toll and the pressure not to make a wrong move or have a bad day is enormous, the compensation for those who have devoted themselves to the sport is worth it.
For many, the amount of money paid for something can help people see its true value. Thus, the high salaries for some eSports professionals show that it’s not just a hobby. But what else can help the industry continue to thrive?
Betting on eSports
One of the most legitimising aspects of eSports has been the rise in those betting on it. You can bet on FIFA, Fortnite, and League of Legends and the teams that play them as much as you can on traditional sports.
Indeed, as the options for online betting have increased to include more eSports, as well as less traditional games – such as Australian Rules football, volleyball, and water polo in the UK – this helps to add authenticity to the industry. For many, being able to wager on a sport gives it validity.
Accessibility of eSports
The growing accessibility of eSports is also helping the industry grow. The ability to watch games on streaming sites such as Twitch and play games across a range of devices means that more people can get involved. The growing range of technology and the ways we can engage with it have made becoming a professional eSports player far more accessible than becoming a professional sports player.
Social media also helps people showcase their skills and build a following. Professional teams like Fnatic have scouts that are monitoring those who are up and coming in the industry. By being able to spot them early on through social media and Twitch, they are more likely to cultivate and help grow a cherry-picked team.
The most common professional aspiration in the past was to be a footballer, but we could see an increasing amount of people add ‘virtual’ to that. eSports has proven its ability to engage fans and spectators, has shown itself to be a profitable industry, and has the credentials to allow almost anyone to get involved. The next step in the eSports industry’s journey would be encouraging more people to watch the competitions in as casual a way as you might watch more conventional sport.