Why Esports should be in the Olympics in 2024

Why Esports should be in the Olympics in 2024

Jonathan Pan is the Senior Advisor of Esports at Turner. He started off his esports career as a Product Manager at Riot Games before becoming Co-Founder and CEO of Ember, a North American League of Legends Team. Most recently, he was Head of Esports at BRaVe Ventures, which was acquired by Turner. Prior to Riot, he was a Senior Consultant in the Financial Services Office at Ernst & Young.

Jon received his MBA from NYU Stern, specializing in entertainment and finance, and a B.A. in Economics and Philosophy at Baruch College. Jon is a veteran of Afghanistan where he served as a Captain in the U.S. Army.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community.

Transcript of Jonathan Pan’s Ted Talk

Today is Sumail Hassan’s birthday. Sumail is probably one of the most interesting 18 year-olds you’ve never heard of. Last year Sumail was named by Time magazine as one of the top 30 most influential teams. The reason Sumail was on that list was that he is one of the best two players in the world. If you’re not familiar with Dota 2, it is one of several online video games where professional teams compete for fame and fortune.

Sumail started playing Dota 2 when he was 7 and living in Pakistan. He didn’t have his own computer so what he would do is pile up on a motorbike with his cousins and his friends to go to the local internet cafe to play. Despite these circumstances, Sumail became so good at the game that he was recruited by a top American eSports team when he was 15. By the time he was 16 he became the youngest player to earn more than 1 million dollars in prize earnings. A big part of those earnings came from winning the Dota 2 World Championship in 2015. His team won 6.6 million dollars for winning first place. The future Olympians of tomorrow will include eSports players like Sumail, not because eSports is a sport of the future, but because eSports is a sport of today.

Today professional teams are competing for millions of dollars in front of millions of fans. Professional eSports tournaments are being played at marquee stadiums like Madison Square Garden in New York City, the Staples Center in Los Angeles and the Bird’s Nest in Beijing. There are more than 30 sports organizations globally involved with these sports, including teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers and Manchester City, a football team in the English Premier League.

These sports organizations and their billionaire team owners are getting involved with eSports because they know that there are more people watching and playing eSports than ever before. Meanwhile, traditional sports have been declining on both fronts. Olympic ratings are down 15%. The National Football League regular season ratings are down 9%. English Premier League is down 19%. Not only are people watching sports less, but people are also playing sports less in the United States. Over the past few years, millions of fewer children are actively playing team sports. One reason why people are watching and playing sports less is that it is becoming very expensive.

ESPN, the top American sports cable channel, is on track to pay 7.3 billion dollars for rights this year. That’s more than any other company in America. Meanwhile, they’ve lost 9 million subscribers since 2013. For sports participation, 38% of families earning less than $25,000 participate in team sports. Children from families earning $100,000 or more participants at a level of 67%. Another study shows that up to 10.5% of a family’s gross income is spent on sports. A typical family earning the median income in America could be spending up to $5,800.

Besides financial considerations, some people and institutions believe that eSports is actually taking away from sports viewership and participation and they are right. In a study conducted by NEWS OOH, 76% of eSports entities say that the time they spend watching eSports is taking away from the time they would spend watching sports. Younger generations are growing up in front of computers and other devices rather than a television.

When we look at digital hours watched, eSports far eclipses traditional sports. Comparing the Super Bowl, one of the largest sporting events in the world, to the League of Legends World Championship, the biggest eSports event in the world, the numbers are amazing. 43 million unique viewers watched the League of Legends Finals compared to less than 5 million viewers of the Super Bowl. Additionally, it’s not just about watching main tournaments on one platform, Twitch. Over 100 million people tuned in every month to watch their favorite players and influencers practice and play.

This image is of a Korean player named Faker, who is often called the Michael Jordan of eSports. His opponents and fans call him god. Last month, 245,000 people tuned in to watch god practice. For context, that’s like saying for your favorite athlete, whether it’s a football player or a basketball player, you would rather watch him or her practice than compete against an actual team. This is part of the reason why the eSports audience continues to grow; you’re not just watching matches, you’re also watching people practice and just having fun.

It is estimated that 385 million people will watch eSports this year and this number will grow to 589 million by 2020. Another interesting thing about eSports audiences is that not only do they watch, but they also play. League of Legends, which we mentioned earlier, has more players than the number of people who live in Germany, France or the United Kingdom. It’s clear that eSports are here and that eSports are big.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, says he wants to bring sports to the youth because they have a lot of options to chose from. He would like that them to choose sports and come to the Olympics. Mr. Bach is right and I believe the sport that we should take to youth is eSports, but before we do, there are three hurdles we must overcome.

The first hurdle is shelf life.

When you think about traditional sports, they last forever and don’t have a shelf life. You could play soccer forever. However, eSports, at its core, are video games created and maintained by private game developers, but this trend is changing. Historically, game developers would develop a game, put in a box and sell it in a store. As a customer, I would go in, pay upfront and enjoy that experience. I would then come back next year for the second version of the game. Now games are being developed as a service. Game Developers like to update them constantly to keep gamers hooked for a longer period of time.

Steam, the largest distribution platform for online video games, created 50% of their top games before 2016. One of these games is Counter-Strike and the image of what it looked like in 1999 has changed with incremental improvements over the last 18 years. Last month, more than 1 million people tuned in to watch a current rec tournament of Counter-Strike.

The second hurdle is organization.

Many sports are organized by committees. Examples: Snowboarding had to align themselves with the International Ski Federation and BMX had to align themselves with the International Cycling Union. However, there aren’t many comparable international organizations for eSports. On the national front, South Korea does have a model. In 2000, Korea formed an organization called the Korean eSports Association, also known as KeSPA, and they have really grown and evolved with the Korean eSports ecosystem. KeSpa preserves the competitive integrity, they actively litigate against match-fixers and cheaters and they have the ability to ban players for life.

KeSpa also works with game developers to promote the quality of life for Korean eSports players. Professional eSports players are guaranteed minimum salaries and they have a minimum one year contract. They also regulate internet cafes to combat internet addiction as well as to promote the amateur Korean eSports scene on the international front.

The International eSports Federation, IeSF, was formed in 2008 with the goal of making eSports an official Olympic sport. IeSF has also done a lot of work with Tesla over the past few years. IeSF consists of 46 countries. 22 of these countries recognize eSports as an official sport today and the other 24 are in the process of doing so. Last year IeSF petitioned the International Olympic Committee to recognize it as the official organizing body for eSports.

The Third Hurdle is No Physical Activity

The third and most interesting hurdle is the perception that eSports require little to no physical activity. Like many of you, as a sports spectator, I grew up thinking that all athletes need to look a specific way, so I was really focused on my appearance. eSports, like many other sports, involves having a healthy body, will, and mind. Many athletes are very muscular, as is Grayson Gilmer, one of my former players. Gilmer, a former high school football player from Texas, joined our team as an esports player with biceps that are bigger than my head.

If having muscles and being physically fit matters to you, know that it does exist in eSports. However, I’ll be the first to admit that not every single player in eSports looks like Grayson. But the trend is shifting towards more physical fitness. eSports athletes only care about one thing. . . winning. Being physically fit helps them win. eSports athletes and gamers, in general, are no longer the nerds hiding in their parents’ basements. They look physically fit and I think this is a good image to convey since we’re talking about the Olympics.

It’s also important for eSports athletes to feel and understand what Olympic athletes think about. Michael Phelps, who has won 23 gold medals, calls eSports athletes “his fellow athletes”. He believes that the skill, training, and devotion required to become an eSports athlete makes them athletes as well. I agree with Michael Phelps. I saw firsthand how much work it took to become an eSports athlete when I had my own eSports team. I formed a team with my co-founder back in 2015. We wanted to put as much infrastructure and support behind our players like the traditional sports organizations do. We hired Ryan Swayze, a personal trainer in Los Angeles. Ryan likes to run through fire for fun. Here’s a short clip of how he helped our team create a sound body, mind, and spirit. He also broke the stigma of the classic gamer just eating Cheetos and drinking Mountain Dew all day. At first, our players doubted the physical training, but when they started winning games, they incorporated physical training into their routines. Remember, the only thing they care about winning.

For mindset training, we had a combination of help from Jonathan Carter and Walden Greene. Carter, on the left, is a certified instructor in the United States Army’s master resilience trainers course. Resilience is very important in eSports because the matches are mentally exhausting. Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks calls eSports five-dimensional chess. Carter trained our players the same way he trains soldiers and their families to cope with deployments and to develop resilience.

Walden Greene helped us create a high-performance environment. eSports is not about just clicking your mouse or keyboard faster to win. eSports requires a lot of strategy and, more importantly, real-time strategies, to win. Greene focused on this, as well as goal setting and player communication. Our team trained from 9:00 a.m. until midnight five or six days a week. This kind of training is what led the United States to start offering athletic visas for certain eSports athletes. As mentioned earlier, Michael Phelps calls eSports athletes “his fellow athletes” because of the level of training that eSports athletes practice. Given this level of training, I believe eSports should be at the Olympics.

So what’s next? How do we get there?

The first step is the International Olympic Committee should recognize IeSF as the official organizing body for eSports. Second, it would be tremendously helpful if Los Angeles was selected as the host city for the 2024 Olympics. I’m not just saying that because I’m from L.A. Los Angeles has a unique abundance of infrastructure and talent for eSports competitions. Some of the top game developers and top eSports teams are located in Los Angeles and eSports is incredibly popular in Southern California. Having locally popular youth-oriented sports increases the chances of them being added to the Olympics; karate, baseball, and skateboarding were added to the Tokyo Olympics because they were locally popular.

If you agree with me and would like to help go to change.org and search for eSports Olympics to sign my petition. Let’s help bring eSports to the Olympics and leverage this global phenomenon in a positive way to improve body, will, and mind for millions of young people around the world. Thank You.

Southern New Hampshire University Adds Esports Varsity Team

SNHU Esports Team

Sultan Akhter is an athlete, but he doesn’t play centerfield or shortstop.

The senior business major will captain the Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) Esports team in its inaugural season this fall.

Along with fellow students playing games like Hearthstone and Fortnite, Akhter will compete for scholarship money as a member of the team’s League of Legends squad.

“An esports team is basically a competitive video gaming team,” he said.

The program is the first competitive esports team in New Hampshire and one of only a handful in New England.

ESPN lists fewer than 100 varsity esports teams in North America, though that doesn’t include club-level teams.

Playing under the auspices of the National Association of Collegiate Esports, SNHU’s team will field squads for four games – Fortnite, Hearthstone, League of Legends and Overwatch and battle online against teams from schools across the country.

Tim Fowler, SNHU Director of Esports, said in addition to the scholarships SNHU will offer next year, college esports teams are competing for real money to continue their education.

The esports industry as a whole has exploded in popularity, size and profitability in recent years. Forbes reported that industry-wide revenue is expected to top $900 million this year and could reach $1 billion in 2019.

“The skills you learn in esports are the same you learn in traditional sports,” Fowler, a former college lacrosse player, said. “I remember playing as a team and being a part of that community, and that’s what I’m trying to build with esports. The real core values you take away from traditional sports are the same you’re taking away from esports.”

Continue Reading the original story at SMJU.EDU.

Esports To Be A $1B Industry

Thanks to a number of factors, e-sports have erupted in popularity recently, with the total global audience expected to exceed 380 million by the end of this year, according to Newzoo, an Amsterdam-based research firm.

“It’s grown through a combination of expanded broadband, social networks, interesting games and personalities, more involvement from the publishers and also, increasingly, from sports and entertainment,” said Christopher Vollmer, global advisory leader for entertainment and media at PwC, the accounting firm formerly known as PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Online personalities helped in a significant way to bring this growth. In the United States and the UK, fans were about as likely to have been drawn to e-sports by online stars, such as those on YouTube, as they were by family and friends, according to a 2017 Nielsen report.

PwC expects the e-sports market to grow drastically, estimating that revenues will rise to $1.6 billion in 2020 from $620 million in 2017.

Continue Reading the original story in The New York Times.

Esports Boot Camps Growing Worldwide

The life of an esports player is the life of a true athlete: Train hard and train with the best to be your best.

NVidia has offered boot camps in their GeForce Esports studio in Silicon Valley since 2015 to do just that. And now they are offering similar boot camps in Munich and Shanghai (according to eSports Insider),  so more of their teams can prepare for esports tournaments.

The trend around the world is very much to support athletes preparing not only for individual achievement which could lead to financial winnings or university scholarships but also training for large tournaments and someday even the Olympics.

Yet, the training facilities are often not even available in key cities. This is just another reason why Contender eSports is uniquely positioned to meet this growing demand throughout the world. The facilities are first-class and provide the perfect environment for casual gaming, serious gaming, as well as intense training for large events.

Continue Reading the original story on The NVidia Blog.

Tutors Being Hired for Fortnite

Some parents have new dreams for their kids—make them Fortnite experts.

With more than 125 million players across the world, Fortnite’s immense popularity, which has drawn everyone from pre-teens to superstar musicians like Drake, has led to some parents hiring video game coaches to help their kids win.

Maria Bartiromo interviews coach, Cesar Sainz, who says that he has gained a significant number of clients as a result of the game’s popularity.  Gamer Sensei is the leading provider of coaching, and sessions are around $20 per hour.  Contender eSports is currently looking into partnerships with Gamer Sensei for coaching experiences at their upcoming locations around the world.

When the parent of one of Cesar’s students was asked why he sought after a coach, he noted that there are now universities offering scholarships for Fortnite.

Continue Reading the original story on FoxBusiness.com.

Fox Business: Esports hits Primetime

This past week Gamer World News host Rob Steinberg spoke about the growing popularity of esports. Fox Business is reporting a wave of growth around the world and particularly in the United States.

Stuart Varney started the segment by discussing the Overwatch championships, which drew 20,000 attendees at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. A reported 300,000 watched online and it was aired by ESPN in primetime.

When asked how big this market is, Steinberg shook his head and stated, “Stuart, we are talking about a multi-billion dollar industry.” He went on to say that the gaming industry is now bigger than the movie industry and music industry combined.

Continue Reading the original story on FoxBusiness.com.

CNBC Sees Esports Market Booming

CNBC is reporting that the global esports industry is on fire and, now, some investors are getting excited about the industry.

The article highlighted Tim Seymour, co-founder and managing partner at Triogem Asset Management, a hedge fund, who was speaking on Fast Money on Monday.

Seymour pointed to the participation of large-scale media companies as proof of a growing industry: The Walt Disney Company broadcast the “Overwatch” games on ESPN.

“The fan base is rabid,” said Seymour, who is also a CNBC contributor. “The excitement is there. And it’s all demographics. It’s not just guys. It’s not just girls. It’s not just young folks. It’s old folks.

Continue Reading the original story on CNBC.com.

Esports in the 2024 Olympics

The possibility of video gaming as an Olympic sport was one of the topics explored in the Esports Forum held Friday in Switzerland.

The article notes that “an organization does not currently exist that represents esports globally and could align with the Olympic values, rules and regulations” which is why the bringing of esports to the Olympics was not “an immediate goal of the Esports Forum.” IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell commented on the overall goals of the meeting.

“There was a consensus that future collaboration will be based on ensuring that any activity supports and promotes the Olympic values; and while the goal was not to develop a pathway towards the inclusion of esports on the Olympic programme, we have a strong plan for ongoing dialogue and engagement, and are in a strong position to coordinate and support the wider engagement of the Olympic Movement with esports.” So what’s next for esports and the Olympics?

Naturally, as eSports gain mass appeal the draw for the general population to participate in local facilities providing the best experience is going to continue to grow. Contender eSports provides such facilities and is taking applications for future owners.

Continue Reading the original story on MSN.com.

What The Heck is eSports

What The Heck is eSports?

Picture 20,000 people in an arena, cheering wildly as they watch competitors locked in an intense battle displayed on huge screens. This is a pro sporting event, to be sure, except not in the traditional sense. eSports – the highest level of competitive gaming – is where the best go-ahead to head and fans gather to watch, either live or via streaming video.

The movement is growing, with more players, board games, and more fans. Some events can draw 40 million online viewers.

What are the stakes?

In the big competitions, where only the top players qualify, spoils can range from a $125,000 prize pool for a Vainglory event to a staggering $20 million for the Dota 2 International Championships.

I’m intrigued. How do I explore?

Although anyone can become an esports competitor, the easiest way to dive in is as a spectator. But before you do it’s a good idea to play a few games first. Clash Royale is a great starter game. The rules of this card-based strategy game are straightforward enough that you’ll get the gist after a few matches.

And you can view live competitions right in the Clash Royale app. On the main screen, tap the small TV icon, then select one of the battles. You’ll find most skilled players sparring in the legendary arena. Watching pros duke it out gives you a glimpse of the high-level strategies involved, and you’ll also get to peek at the cards players unlock as they move up the ranks.

Where else can I watch?

Many other games have built-in spectator modes but the twitch app lets you view nearly every game in one spot the streaming platform is devoted almost entirely to the sports, and each day it bubbles up trending games and high-stakes tournaments. It’s the best way to discover new games and watch the Masters compete. Paragraph if you’re looking for a more personal experience, we recommend a caffeine.tv, an app that streams games and entertainment. In caffeine.tv, you focus on the friends you follow rather than a specific game or subject. You can even connect with others by broadcast live yourself!

What kind of games are there?

Although he sports span many different genres, the most popular are multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBA’s), in which teams compete to invade their enemies basis. In these matches, teamwork, quick reflexes, and flexibility are paramount. The mobile is Arena of Valor and Vainglory were built for touchscreens and feature a huge cast of fighters to take into battle

Art of war: Red tides is another great option. In this fast-paced strategy game, team up with two other players to make quick decisions about which characters sent into battle – as your enemies do the same

Card games are hugely popular Esports on iPhone and iPad, thanks to their intuitive touchscreen controls and short gameplay sessions. But even the briefest matches can be packed with white-knuckle action.

Hearthstone, for example, has straightforward rules, but watching the Masters attack, defend, and pivot to different tactics can be as engaging as a high-intensity tennis match.

Credit — The original article is found on Apple iTunes.

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