Watching professional athletes offer the best performances in sports like hockey or football offers an incomparable spectacle to all audiences. However, even the most prominent sports events, like the Superbowl, gather fewer people, and the new trend is esports.
This new category of sports isn’t physical but virtual, and its athletes are more often seen with a six-pack of energy drinks than muscles. Still, it’s about performance on a different level, and more and more people follow these influencers.
These new competitions are so popular that even sites offering online casino games and sports betting now feature an esports betting category. This increase in popularity begs the question of why and how sports took center stage in the sports community. In this article, we’ll take a dive into the world of these virtual competitions and their impact.
What Propelled Esports’ Popularity?
Esports or electronic sports is the terminology used for every video game competition, so it’s not exactly referring to a single discipline. Within this category, very different games and audiences are mixed. There are fighting games like Street Fighter, FPS games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and even strategy games. This means that it can virtually appeal to any demographic. For instance, if you enjoy soccer, you can watch professional matches on FIFA.
Outside this versatility, esports has existed almost as long as video games themselves, but a shift occurred with the rise of Twitch. This streaming platform had a tremendous impact on how people watch video games. Before, you had to go on YouTube to find recordings or opt for a small channel with little to no choice. However, the system put in place by Twitch allows viewers to interact and comment on a match happening live.
It created a new type of influencers that people follow for their performances on the games or their various rants when questions are asked of them. It makes them more approachable than conventional athletes.
Another key factor that really helped esports competitions gain mainstream appeal is the fact that celebrities like Drake or Michael Jordan started investing and promoting it. For instance, Drake co-owns 100 Thieves, an esports-oriented apparel brand. This kind of news help esports reaches new audiences.
What Sets Esports Apart
Esports appeal to a younger demographic because it offers something traditional sports don’t. The technology-based approach allows for a more interactive experience, and being able to comment on the action is a massive part of the success of the discipline.
Moreover, esports is constantly evolving and isn’t limited to video games as we know them. For instance, some companies are starting to create VR competitive games where audiences can wear a headset for a more immersive experience.
Vastly Different Games to Watch
When someone wants to watch esports, there are plenty of choices on what one may tune in. The games range from fast-paced fighting games like Street Fighter, Tekken, or Mortal Kombat, to first-person shooters like Valorant or Rainbow Six Siege. These are games anyone can buy and play. However, professionals are able to develop strategies and use the game mechanics differently.
New Social Norms
Like any sport, these games have their own vocabulary, which reinforces social cohesion. For example, a Tekken player will talk about cross-ups and juggles, while a League of Legends (LoL) player only swears by AoE (Area of Effect) and AD (Attack Damage). It matters because it creates a sense of belonging, and esports fans are super passionate and dedicated.
More Accessible Than Traditional Sports
Since esports are about playing video games, anyone who can play a game and get good at it is a potential pro player. Age, gender, and physical condition doesn’t matter. It’s about being good at the game or not. Some competitions offer prizes to players, and others give viewers donations for a good cause.
Will Esports Change the Way We Enjoy Sports?
This new way of enjoying sports events will likely have an impact on how we watch more traditional sports. It provides new ways to enjoy a competition by engaging audiences, and it’s clear that the most significant sports competitions will try to play catch-up.
The change will become mandatory for these competitions to attract younger audiences, and engage them in the events, especially for sports where matches can be excessively long for modern audiences with a reduced attention span.
Esports: An Ever-Growing Popularity
Meanwhile, esports is gathering more and more viewers and have known steady growth for the last decade. The global market generated an estimated $1.136.5 billion in 2021, and it only seems like it’s going to keep increasing.
Existing influencers are joining the market, and new ones are emerging, which is a sign of increased interest in the discipline. Finally, new games always come out with improved graphics and gameplay, which allow the competitions to renew their interest and offer a more impressive spectacle.