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Back in 1972, no one would have possibly imagined a Space Invaders Championship, made up of approximately 10,000 participants, would be the prelude to what Esports has now become. A couple decades later, in 1998, we would witness another unprecedented moment in gaming history… StarCraft 2 would pave the road for Esports to transform in a giant, with over 50 million online viewers, and nearly 20,000 of those viewer ships coming from Twitch (at the time, known as Justin.tv). Then finally, a final move to push Esports into a worldwide phenomenon by Major League Gaming in 2002. MLG is now known to be one of the main hosts of Esports today. With companies such a Red Bull, Audi and many other sponsors backing Esports, we would see an utterly amazing feat…a franchise now surpassing well over 1 billion dollars.
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Esports, otherwise known as Electronic Sports, is now viewed on multiple platforms, backed by over 200 million people worldwide both live and at events, including 11 billion hours watched yearly. Compare that now to tradition sports, and things get interesting. Esports is not only overshadowing some sports, both worldwide and nationally, but has made an impact, which simply can no longer be ignored. Gone are the days a gamer, much less a professional and talented gamer, are looked down on as a waste of time with no future. The firm Activate, which is one of the leading backers of Esports, predicts the industry will continue to grow exponentially, projecting more viewers than any other professional sports leagues except for the NFL, over the next few years. The audience and viewership are expected to grow to over 800 million to 1 billion viewers worldwide at a rate of approximately 200% by 2024. It’s almost hard to believe around 70 million people watch an Esports Competitive Championship final, compared to traditional sports. According to Activate, the NFL sits at approximately 141 million viewers followed in second place by Esports at about 84 million. The MLB follows with a close 79 million, NBA 63 million and NHL 32 million. Esports, although having about half the viewership, of the NFL may not seem impressive, however, the fact remains, Esports has only started to truly take off and grow substantially in the past decade.
Esports has taken a stage in the world which can no longer be disputed. Continuing to grow exponentially year after year, I look forward to seeing what it will become over the next several years as it has proven it’s a force to be reckoned with.