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How eSports Gamers are Becoming the New Athletes

eSports requires just as much focus but in a different format than other sports.

How eSports Gamers are Becoming the New Athletes

eSports is a global phenomenon that captures the world of competitive and organized gaming. This new virtual sport has exploded recently, generating over $1 billion this year according to Bloomberg Businessweek. As a result, gamers have been stepping up their game – even training as diligently as athletes. 

Due to the support of streaming services and live gaming events, everyday video game players transform to professional gamers who compete in virtual duels. A gamer can generate seven-figure earnings and even brand endorsements, attracting as much attention as pro-athletes on the court or field.

Companies are marketing their products to gamers in order to increase sales. A lot pro-gamers have become influencers partnering with brands for gaming awareness. According to Nielsen’s eSports Playbook for Brands, the industry’s heavy reliance on sponsorship presents companies with ways to build relationships with players and fans and even speak to them in a nuanced, engaging way. A few popular eSports influencers include Ninja, Rick Fox and Matthew Piper.

Fans and following

eSports attracts millions of followers through live streams or recordings of their competitive matches. In 2018, the number of eSports viewers reached nearly 400 million. In the same year, the worldwide eSports market amounted to $776.4 million, according to statista.com

In fact, on Sunday, August 30, the first Call of Duty League final was the most watched CoD eSports match in the game’s history, peaking at 331,000 viewers on Youtube. Other popular games that are played competitively are Fortnite, Overwatch, Madden NFL, League of Legends, Dota 2 and Counter-Strike. 

Screengrab via Call of Duty League

In a typical gaming tournament, about 100 players fight it out until there’s only one contestant or team left standing. Another typical format for eSports tournaments would be two groups of five battling through virtual matches lasting from a few minutes to up to several hours, with teams being either eliminated or advancing until the final round. 

Physically effected by game

Though gamers aren’t working up a sweat while participating in an exuberayting activity, eSports can effect players physically. While it seems that eSports lacks in resources unlike big league pro-teams, that is not the case. Top gaming squads are recruiting personal trainers, sleep specialists, dietitians and psychologists in an effort to discipline their gamers as if they are athletes. 

Pro-gamers endure intense psychological pressures, including performance anxiety, fear of failure and possible miscommunication when it comes to team matches. Gamers competing in major eSports competitions experience the same kinds of stressors as professional athletes do, according to a psychology study published in the International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations. 

The future of eSports and COVID

In 2018, Intel and ESL, Electronic Sports League, hosted IEM PyeongChang around the time of the Winter Olympic Games in South Korea. Due to the growth and support of eSports in recent years, the International Olympic Committee and Intel, a major multinational technology company, teamed up to promote the Intel World Open, an eSports competition happening in the lead up to the 2020 Summer Olympics located in Tokyo, Japan. The tournament will include games Street Fighter V and Rocket League with a total of $500,000 up for grabs.

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating existing trends with the gaming industry. The COVID-19 lockdowns have boosted user engagement with video games and eSports, and revenues for many gaming companies have increased. Total viewership is also expected to grow to 646 million in 2023, according to businessinsider.com. Due to COVID-19 impacting the athletic world, eSports is growing and will continue to accelerate in future years. In 2023, eSports is estimated to reach about 1.6 billion dollars in revenue.

Read more about eSports on our blog at Syft.com.

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