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The growth of eSports in 2020/21

The normal sporting calendar was completely decimated in 2020, leaving a huge void in sports, the summer Olympics postponed, the NBA season on hold, all major football, golf and tennis events suspended..  We have’t seen anything in the sports calendar since the great wars in 1914-19 and 1939-45.  in 2020/21 there was only winner in the devastating Corona Virus Pandemic – eSports.

eSports are all online by their nature so therefore have been essential unscathed, continuing their unstoppable growth.  Most of the major annual eSports events went ahead all online and streamed to viewers, they lost out on ticket sales but made up for this hit through eSports betting.

The Numbers

The viewership of traditional sports disappeared in 2020 because there was none, apart from a few events being hosted behind closed doors, while eSports was the opposite.  Since 2016, there has been a significant increase in eSports viewers,  according to figures we researched, between 2016 and 2017, there was a 19.3% increase year over year. In 2017, there was a total audience 335 million, in 2019 the total audience size grew to 380 million and in 2019 it looks like that figure was over 450 million!

According to Insider Intelligence, there will be 26.6 million monthly esports viewers in the USA in 2021, up 11.4% from 2020, according to our estimates.

The the global gaming livestreaming audiences for 2019 and 2020 were 593.2 million and 662.7 million, respectively. The 11.7% growth over 2020 was benefited from the ongoing pandemic.  According to Newzoo predictions,  the end result this year should see further growth of 10.0% to 728.8 million viewers.

Our belief is that the viewership number for eSports will continue to rocket in 2022, there are a few reason why.

1.  Millions more people are remote working, working from home and so online all the time.

2.  People who couldn’t watch and bet on sports in 2020 filled the void by learning and finding new markets. To put this into perspective, just look at the numbers in awareness of the eSports industry since 2015.  Back then, there were slightly more than 800,000 people who had heard about it.  Experts put this number at 2 billion in 2020!

3. In traditional sports, the NBA, The ATP World tour in tennis and Formula 1 are just 3 of the major sports organisations that are announcing Virtual Leagues.  Virtual leagues are already a big deal in football and all other sports will follow.

Money

The 2019 Fortnite World Cup was among the biggest eSports events of 2019 and had a $30m prize pool.  The League of Legends World Championship is the annual professional League of Legends world championship tournament hosted by Riot Games.  The 2018 finals were watched by an incredible 99.6 million people, a record for eSports.  2019 went one better, the World Championship brought in more than 100 million viewers, including a peak of 44 million concurrent viewers.  The highest earning eSports players are now earning millions and with prize money and sponsorship increasing yearly, the most skilled players have a very bright future.

Fortnite maker Epic Games is worth just shy of $30 billion after raising another $1 billion in its latest funding round.  While some of the eSports teams are now worth 100’s of millions.  The most valuable being Team Liquid which is worth $310, Cloud9 – $250 and TSM – $410.  These are figure from 2020 so we’re pretty sure they are worth a lot more now.

New Virtual Leagues – Traditional Sports

Which much smaller than gaming, Virtual leagues of traditional sports have become big businesses and it’s the betting companies reall, couple this with the U.S. sports betting market opening up state by state and you have a recipe for stratospheric growth.   We already talked about the NBA, tennis but football and horse racing are becoming big business too.

Virtual football

The most popular sport to bet on just opened a whole new market – virtual football leagues. Matches involve games between nations or various club teams where people can play, watch  and bet on the games, goal scored etc.

Virtual horse racing

Horse races are becoming a popular choice of betting on iGaming websites with virtual tournaments and attractive prizes. The virtual racing environment attracts players with amazing graphic animations and unique entertainment features that deliver the best online gaming experience. Horse racing is easy to understand: players are allowed to choose their horses and compete against each other in order to determine the final winner of the race.

The biggest eSports games

The eSports gaming sector is far bigger than any traditional sport leagues, these are the biggest and most played eSports games globally –

Dota 2.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Fortnite.
League of Legends.
StarCraft II.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)
Overwatch.
Hearthstone

The future

In 2021, the global eSports industry was valued at more than 1 billion US Dollars. That’s a nearly 50% increase from the year before in 2020.  Experts predict that by 2024, there are expected to be over 577 million viewers of eSports worldwide.    And the eSports industry’s global market revenue will grow to nearly $2 billion in 2024.

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