You might have heard of esports, professional gaming or competitive gaming. Whatever you call them, they've grown to an astronomical level and well beyond being just a "hype" or a "fad." They're an industry and like it or not, they're here to stay.
If video games aren't your thing and you're more interested in making some nice capital, esports is the place you should throw your money at. Over the last few years, companies the likes of Xfinity, Wendy's, Redbull and HTC have chosen the world of esports as a safe investment. According to Forbes, more than 600 esports sponsorships have been secured since the start of 2016.
Not only that, but tournaments are starting to bare their teeth with ever increasing prize pool. Dota 2's "The International 2017" tournament had a total prize pool of $24,787,916 USD with the first place winner getting $10,862,683 making it the the largest esports prize pool to date.
As I said, esports is growing ever popular, even among those who aren't gamers. The 2014 League of Legends World Championship in Seoul, South Korea had over 40,000 fans in attendance and featured the band Imagine Dragons. In 2017, Tespa, Blizzard Entertainment's collegiate esports division, decided to begin giving scholarships and prizes worth $1 million for collegiate esports clubs competing in its tournaments. The streaming platform Twitch recording 4.5 million views on one day of The International back in 2013.
In addition, the first Esports Arena in the US opened in Santa Ana in 2015 with the Luxor in Las Vegas planning on also open an arena on The Strip in 2018.
Social media followers are also a big part of the popularity of esports. As of the time of writing this, OpTic Gaming have 3.31M followers on Twitter and FaZe Clan have 3.29M.
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, big name people and brands are getting into esports. Apart from the ones I already mentioned, other companies like Logitech, Razer, HP, Buffalo Wild Wings and Arby's have also jumped aboard. In addition to companies, celebrities like Shaquille O'Neal who invested in NRG Esports, Rick Fox who owns Echo Fox, and Jennifer Lopez who invested $15m in NRG, are also part of esports.
Professional European soccer teams like Germany's Schalke 04 and Paris Saint-Germain also own esports teams of their own. Schalke has FC Schalke 04 Esports in the EU LCS division with PSG having a League of Legends, FIFA and Rocket League team.
The Ongoing Legitimization
Efforts to unify and legitimize the esports industry are constant through the efforts of several associations dedicated to doing that. Names like Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA), the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF), the British eSports Association, the International eGames Committee (IEGC), the World eSports Association (WESA) and the Professional eSports Association (PEA).
These associations are attempting to set standards and rules for the esports industry, thus bringing them closer to being recognized as actual sports.
Esports are growing by the minute and show no signs of stopping. With so many ways to get involved both financially and otherwise, esports are probably one of the safest ways to invest your money. In their 2017 Global Esports Market Report, Newzoo will reach $696 million in 2017. That figure is projected to grow to $1.5 billion by 2020 as investments in esports double.
As esports is still in its fairly early stages of infancy, now is a better time than ever to jump on. Get in on the wave before the market gets too crowded and new players have a hard time getting in.