eSports is a form of competitive electronic gaming that generally involves organised, multiplayer video game competitions for professional and amateur players. eSports games come in many shapes and sizes. The more commonly available video game genres include the ‘first-person shooter’ (FPS) fighting, the ‘real-time strategy’ (RTS), as well as the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA).
Due to its competitive nature, and multi-player possibilities, eSports is perfect for competitive tournaments. There are several specialised eSports tournaments held around the world, with high prizes. The more renowned competitions include the League of Legends World Championship, the Evolution Championship Series, The International, and the Intel Extreme Masters tournaments among others. Furthermore, they are broadcasted live, and massive prizes are awarded to the winners.
Evolution of the Species
Organised online game competitions have long been part and parcel of the video gaming community. Their popularity skyrocketed towards the end of the 2000s when professional gamers started to infiltrate video gaming thereby creating a professional eSport subculture. By the next decade, many professional tournaments featured Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA), League of Legends (LOL), and Dota 2. The hugely popular, first-person shooter game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive also entered the fray. Other games of note include Call of Duty, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Smite and StarCraft II. They draw huge viewership and enjoy massive publicity, not to mention the exceptional prizes they offer.
With the proliferation of online streaming platform options, eSports tournaments are now followed by millions. Twitch.tv, and to a lesser extent YouTube and Panda.tv, are partly responsible for bringing the games to the masses. Major League Gaming has an 85% male, and 15% female viewership and the majority of them are between 18 and 34 years old. The presence of female gamers is expected to increase steadily from year to year. Just recently, eSports prize money for tournaments reached an impressive $600 million, and by 2019, almost half a million people will be following eSports events and competitions. Many viewers are switching to a mobile device to watch Sports events, and by 2022, it is predicted that over 50% of viewers will be using a mobile device. eSports reaches millions of people from all over the world with relative ease. It has evolved concurrently with the Internet. It is easily accessible, as people can tune in to platforms such as Twitch TV to watch and learn tactics from their favourite eSports players in real time! It also allows interaction between viewers. All this has opened up the doors to players being able to wager on these events through an online casino, which is the perfect, virtual environment, and natural home of eSports.
The Rise of Twitch.tv
With Millennials brought up on big brother and reality TV shows, it was just a matter of time before this trend started to infiltrate other areas. The majority of people below the age of 30 have been brought up watching Reality TV. The benefits of watching others play ensures genuine authenticity and engagement, elements that are crucial to an immersive gaming experience. When one adds genuine emotions that are experienced with gambling, the pleasure of eSports gets even more intense. Reality TV has essentially paved the way for the coming of age of the eSports phenomenon. Twitch.tv is a fast growing platform which first appeared in 2011 offering live, streamed content. It soon expanded from 20 million viewers in 2012, to over 100 million active monthly users, and 15 million daily users. Today, Twitch has become the premier, social video service and community for gamers in the world. In 2014, Twitch was taken over by Amazon, at the cost of almost $1 billion! With an eye firmly on the future, Twitch recently rolled out a new feature called Chat Replay. It allows the viewing of recorded live streams, complete with its rolling chat feature. In effect, this is almost like watching a live broadcast. Twitch recently introduced a better private messaging system called Whispers 2.0. It permits the uploading of videos and allows players to bypass live streams altogether. YouTube’s eSports streaming service has fewer viewers in comparison to Switch. Nevertheless, the growth figures over the last year have been encouraging, and even more interesting is that YouTube is courting more mature and affluent users, with an average viewer age of 28 compared to 21 for Twitch.
The Best eSports Tournaments
The quality of online esports tournaments being organised today supersedes anything that was available previously. Among the more extravagant and significant eSports tournaments in the world, the North American Major League Gaming really stands out. There is the World Cyber Games tournament and the World e-Sports Games held in China. In addition, there is the Electronic Sports World Cup, based in France. For well-established competitions, total prize money frequently runs into millions of U.S. dollars.
MOBA Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
MOBA offers players a distinctive style of gaming. Titles in this series include; League of Legends, Dota 2 and Heroes of the Storm. This form of gaming offers a different approach. No matter how many times the battles are waged, the games always seem fresh and exciting. The wagering on these type of games is based more on strategy, planning and intelligence, rather than brute force. Bettors need to predict which team will emerge unscathed, and triumphant in battle.
One of the most popular games for tournaments is DOTA 2, Defense of the Ancients. The International 2017, Valve’s Premier Dota 2 Tournament broke all records when it was held last August. It paid out the highest eSports tournament prize pool ever, amounting to a staggering US$24 million! The Dota 2 tournament audience has almost tripled over the last three years, peaking at 5 million concurrent viewers for the latest edition of the tournament. DOTA 2 has awarded over US$86 million in prizes, 632 competitions have been held, and 23 players have won over 1 million dollars each! DOTA 2, Defense of the Ancients, is an immersive and popular MOBA. Created by Valve Corporation and designed by IceFrog. It was launched in July 2013 and since then has garnered legions of followers.
League of Legends, LOL is another favourite, having paid out over US$30 million in prizes. LOL is an engaging Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game full of excitement and action. Multiple teams and players compete against one another in battle, at major world events, tournaments, and competitions. An incredible 1749 such tournaments have been held! LOL must surely be one of the most popular and engaging games taking the eSports world by storm. Unleashed in 2009, LOL soon became the Holy Grail of competitive and skilful gaming. The major annual LOL tournament is the World Championship, which is hosted by games developer; Riot Games. The last edition of the LOL World Championship managed to attract 57.6 million viewers overall, with peak viewers the previous year reaching almost 15 million! League of Legends is arguably one of the most popular MOBA games. Today, League of Legends has become a million dollar industry, with prize pools inflating year by year.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, CS: GO is another popular choice, with its fast-paced, shooting action. CS: GO has become extremely popular since its inception in 2012. There are quite a few tournaments for CS: GO. Of relevance to US and Canadian fans, there is the exceptional ELeague CS: GO 2017 Atlanta, with an incredible prize pool of one million dollars! The 2018 edition takes place in New York. More than a million unique users viewed the ELeague Major grand finals on Twitch alone, and 3.6 million viewers on TSB. The PGL Major Kraków, Poland 2017 reached a peak viewership of almost 1.9 million and is worth a mention. The current version of CS: GO is the fourth in the series. There are two opposing teams, the Terrorist and Counter-Terrorist teams. It’s a battle to the death, with high stakes for the winning team, and rich payouts for those betting on that team. CS: GO is the choice for die-hard fans. It is considered to be more violent, competitive and aggressive than most of the other eSports games out there.
Overwatch is in the same category and similar vein as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and a favourite shooter combat game, Overwatch involves two teams of six players per team. Players choose a character from a list of 25 options at the outset of the game. The groups of heroes each have unique, varying styles of movement, abilities and skills. The characters have different roles to perform and challenges to face throughout the game to stand a chance of winning. There are four categories, Offense, Defense, Attack and Support. A select few heroic players will have their names immortalised in the eSports Hall of Fame! The Overwatch League Season One, held in Los Angeles, USA from January to June, is the most lavish North American event with US$1.3 million in prize money for the winners. The viewership during the first week rocketed to 10 million followers tuning to watch the Overwatch League on streaming platforms. The total concurrent viewership on MLG and Twitch peaked at 437,000 for the match of the century between Dallas Fuel and Seoul Dynasty.
Call of Duty
Call of Duty started off the trend of soldier-simulator eSports gaming. Now including the interactive multiplayer format, players face off and attempt to gun each other down during one of the titles multiple game modes. As of 2003, there were over 100 million unique players, and over 32 quadrillion bullets had been shot! By 2016, 250 million people purchased Tour of Duty. The game offers 15 versions emanating from four arcs. The game is unique, adaptable and utterly enjoyable partly due to the diversity of the game, which incorporates past wars, and futuristic one yet to come! These exceptional qualities are what has kept Tour of Duty fresh and exciting over the years. Billed as the year’s most significant competitive event, the 2018 Call of Duty World League Championship. It took place at the Anaheim Convention Center, USA. The current edition takes place in Ohio. The record-breaking season includes spectacular prizes amounting to no less than US$4.2 million. The first couple of days of the competition are streamed live from the MLG Arena in Columbus, Ohio.