The rise of esports

(Left to right) Stewie2K, Skadoodle, TaRIK, RUSH, and automatic, Cloud 9’s CSGO Roster that won the 2018 ELEAGUE Boston Major.

(Left to right) Stewie2K, Skadoodle, TaRIK, RUSH, and automatic, Cloud 9’s CSGO Roster that won the 2018 ELEAGUE Boston Major.

Ethan Denman, Staff Writer

Without a doubt, competitive gaming, or ESports, has been one of the most growing industries of the 21st Century. With hundreds of thousands of people watching online and thousands attending events, it has become as popular as professional sports such as the NFL or NBA. From MMOs to shooters, ESports has been branching out to new games at a never-ending rate. From the looks of it, ESports is expected to keep growing over the next few years, and by 2022 is expected to double in revenue. This raises big questions: how did this industry blow up so quickly? Will ESports teams and clubs become as common as a high school basketball team?

ESports has been around for decades. Competitive gaming has been a thing since the first Street Fighter games, which are fighter games, and MOBAs, which are real-time strategy games, but only ever had local tournaments and small arcade tournaments. ESports didn’t start to kick off until game systems like the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) and games like Starcraft 1, Quake, and Counter: Strike came out. With the introduction of games like these and the internet being more accessible to places such as South Korea, online competitive gaming quickly started to enter the scene. 

With players’ thirst for competitive gaming, leagues rose up such as ESL, which hosted Counter: Strike; Teams also started to pop up such as Samsung Galaxy and SK Telecom. For the next few years, ESports would start to become popular, but not yet have a breakthrough; there was one issue: streaming. Streaming before 2010 was very expensive, sometimes being the number one cost for most events, but in 2010, things changed. It became free to stream from home, which lowered the costs of hosting events by thousands of dollars. 

Because of this, events popped up more regularly; occasionally, events were being hosted once a week for multiple games. This brought lots of attention to the ESports scene, and lots of people were getting in on it. By this point, the world had caught notice of ESports and teams were popping up in places such as The United States and Europe. Around this time as well, major companies were becoming knowledgeable of ESports and started sponsoring big teams, which were then able to support themselves and even pay their players. With new games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and League of Legends; more people became attached to the idea of ESports and more teams and players started popping up. There was also the addition of; Twitch allowed these tournaments to be streamed on their platform, allowing viewers to easily watch tournaments from anywhere. This was the real boom of ESports, and it hasn’t stopped growing since.

Nowadays, ESports has become one of the most popular sports out there. As of 2020, the industry was worth around 3 billion, expected to double that by the end of 2022. There are now teams all over the world which rack in tens of millions each year off of sponsorships from major companies such as BMW, Microsoft, Amazon, and Marvel. Players on these teams also wrack in millions of dollars each year off of streaming and sponsorships. There also are events being hosted all over the world in massive stadiums. To put it in perspective, during the League of Legends World Finals 2018, there were hundreds of thousands of people at once in the finals stadium and over 100 million viewers watching on multiple different platforms. Nowadays, ESports continues to grow as an industry, and right now, it looks like there’s no end in sight.