From humble beginnings, Esports has rapidly evolved to become a globalized, million-dollar industry. Moreover, this departure from stereotypical gaming has spread its infectious influence worldwide.
Now, for better or worse, Esports is a financial juggernaut and a commercial entity that threatens to break free from the sub-niche it subscribes itself too. Today, the modern gaming landscape is unrecognizable. At least from that of the not too distant past and has altered drastically in a matter of years. In short, the industry is accelerating and expanding at such as rate, that it’s only a matter of time before we see Esports become a top dog of sports entertainment. The future is bright for Esports, that’s for sure.
In the present day, Esports is a formidable, commercial enterprise, with professional teams fighting it out in lavish arenas around the world. Highly organized, competitive play streamed to a live audience. And of course, those millions, watching from the comfort of their homes.
In truth, live streaming and online gaming saw a surge in growth during the tail-end of the 2000s as players began to accept the transition from local, couch-coop to online play. A concept that for good or bad, set the trends of live interaction and competition we see today.
From there, online-play evolved from small-scale events to the vast, highly organized spectacles we see today. Now, it’s so ingrained in our being, that we’ve come to accept the rise of Esports as less of a passing trend, and more of a permanent cultural awakening. We’ll soon see what the future has lined up, but one thing is evident, Esports are here to stay. So then, what’s the reason for this rapid rise to fame?
Now, more than ever, Esports has a large-scale viewership. Mainly, this omnipotent fame is down to highly specialized streaming platforms. Such as Twitch and Youtube Gaming. Thus, allowing fans to tune into the action from Europe to Asia, and across the world.
Although Esports have a hugely active community in Europe, it perhaps prospers most in Asia. Specifically, South Korea. A nation so besotted with Esports, that politicians enacted a law to close servers from midnight. Such are the levels of participation and the mounting concern of addiction on its youth.
In South Korea, the line between addiction and enjoyment is thin and often blurred. For professionals competing on the world stage, the pressure to perform is sometimes too much to bear. Worse still, extensive training and lengthy gaming sessions may lead to a life void of social enrichment. So, the lifestyle comes at a cost. For many, fame and fortune are driving factors and cover any of the potential downsides linked to elite level gaming.
In South Korea, Esports is not so much a passing cultural trend, but a way of life. Much like the gladiatorial games were to the Romans or the Superbowl is to everyday Americans. For instance, fans attend many annual, and spectacular state approved events while specific gaming cafe’s flood the streets. All of which act as social hubs.
What’s more, cosplay is just as prevalent in South Korea. As a result, whole tournaments dedicate themselves to the fad. Sometimes just as lucrative as the Esports comps themselves.
Now then, let’s look at the top games often associated with Esports. Firstly, Esports caters for a gamut of genres. Mostly, these range from MOBA titles and FPS games to battle-royale style MMO’s and Real-time strategy. Perhaps, the most popular MOBA game is League of Legends. A game inspired by the Warcraft series of games. Another notable title is DOTA 2 which hosts events all over the globe.
All the while, first-person shooters like Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Counterstrike usually serve up team deathmatch scenarios and last-man-standing matches. Think of it as a virtual form of the hunger games, that pretty much sums it up.
More recently, Esports ventured into the mobile games market. Perhaps predictably, its arrival in this domain has been just as impactful. Although a reasonably new concept, there is already a list of mobile games leading the line. So, let’s examine some prime examples of Mobile Esports.
First up, is Clash Royale. Released in 2016, by developer Supercell this mobile Esports game is among the most popular with a massive Twitch following reading in the millions. Alongside millions of daily users and a live studio feed from LA, Clash Royale has attracted the giants of mobile gaming, such as Team Liquid, widely respected in the industry.
Next up, we have Vainglory. The MOBA game that laid the groundwork for Clash Royale. In a sense, Vainglory is one of the originators and has garnered a decent fanbase for its similarities to Dota 2 and League of Legends.
More recently, the developers Super Evil Megacorp added a 5V5 mode to emulate the success of those PC Powerhouses. The worldwide appeal of the game over its five-year stint has allowed it to intrench a pro circuit on tour. All of which take place in Europe and North America, in addition to China, and East Asia.
Despite the rapid rise of Esports as a mobile commodity, most of the high stakes, competitions still take place on the PC. No doubt, this is set to change in the future. It all comes to an epic close at the annual League of Legends Finals. Here, the best teams in the world compete for the ultimate prize. After four weeks of intense competition, two teams battle it out in a clash of the titan’s event. With a huge prize pot present, and over 40,000 spectators eagerly awaiting the winner, the stakes have never been higher.
No longer a marginalized subculture, Esports rapid rise to fame transforms the outdated notion of a nerd, into that of cult heroes of our time and age. Without a doubt, gaming’s very own age of enlightenment has begun. With that in mind, the Esports brand of gaming is set to innovate and alter the way we perceive video games in the future.
As brands such as Apple innovate their products and revolutionise mobile technology, Esports are sure to affirm their grip on the platform. Surely then, not before long, Esports will take over the Western World.
Given Esports rising popularity and commercial prominence, its status in our culture and its relevance to modern life are clear for all to see. That said, it would appear as though Esports are here to stay.
What are your thoughts on this sub-genre taking the world by storm? Perhaps you have a favourite Esports game? Or maybe you compete at some level? If so, please get in touch with your comments below. We’d like to hear your views.