SPRINGFIELD, Mo- Contender eSports, and the Drury eSports team are squading up to create a league for high schoolers in Springfield.
Contender eSports is Springfield’s only eSports gaming center. Brett Payne owns the Springfield location and the franchise nationwide, with the corporate office in Springfield at the Missouri State eFactory.
Brett started the company towards the end of 2018 and wanted it to be a place for the community to come and enjoy it.
“There was an opportunity for us to kind of standardize this and make sure that we have a way for every city in the United States to have its own brick and mortar esports facility,” says Brett.
Brett is no stranger to video games. He has four kids ranging from 27 to 6-years-old. So he understands the parental perspective with kids and video games.
He says since the gaming center has opened, it opened last week, parents are shocked with how family-friendly of a place it is.
“They come in here; they see so many people while they’re playing. They sit on the couches, they talk with their other friends. They know that this is a very family-friendly place, so we try to make it really really safe for everybody,” says Brett.
The mission of Contender is to reach gamers of all ages. To reach high school students, they are creating gaming leagues for high schoolers in Springfield.
Contender and the Drury eSports team are hoping to create the league in the coming weeks.
“We’re working together to start the first Springfield eSports high school league. So parents that have been arguing with their kids about playing various games all of a sudden are going to see those kids competing against other high schools here,” says Brett.
Michael Jones says Drury’s role is to coach the students on teamwork.
“We’re offering the expertise in how do you run a team? What are the duties of a couch? There’s a lot of teachers and faculty members that are stepping up that are seeing this as something their students are passionate about, and they want to support that. So we’re volunteering to offer mentorship and coaching to these young gamers so that they can learn how to be part of a team,” says Michael.
Until the leagues are set in stone, high schoolers are still welcome to play with friends at Contender.
In more eSports news, Drury will be hosting an eSports festival at the O’Reilly Family Event Center on February 22nd and 23rd.
According to a press release from Drury, “Teams in the Midwest Esports Conference will hold official competitions in a double, round-robin regular season in the game League of Legends. In addition to spectating the conference’s League of Legends contests, attendees can sign up for tournaments in a variety of games.”
By Chris Six Feb 10, 2020 / 06:25 PM CST / Updated: Feb 10, 2020 / 06:27 PM CST
Inaugural track Music and Sports by Midem, scheduled to take place on June 6 and created by the sister company of Midem’s Esports BAR, is the only venue where people will be able to know how and why these two industries come together to play a key role in the future.
With some of the biggest gambling-giants like Bet365 and Betway esports offering odds on esports games, it’s clearly evident that the Esports industry is going to grow massively.
Executives and musicians from the fields of music and esports will share their knowledge and how this partnership will affect pop culture in the future.
“This Midem event is the only one designed to create a dialogue with esports professionals, as music is becoming important for sports production,” says Stephane Gambetta, Production Manager Esports BAR.
Digital entertainment is possibly one of the first entertainment platforms that attract the interest of major press and marketers for the uninitiated music industry.
There is a generation that enjoys watching gamers play online, on TV and at venues. Digital natives of Gen Z and the Millennials are a core part of the esports fan base including sports teams playing on streaming platforms, broadcasting Television and live venues.
Now, millions of watchers battle each other on live streaming sites including Twitch, a tech giant subsidiary Amazon.com. Yet gamers and esports enthusiasts using streaming platforms have become superstars with millions of followers running their own online esports tourneys.
Supporters communicate with them in real-time with feverish feedback within the chat region of the computer. Some use micro-trading to make donations, which can make millions of dollars from players organizing gaming tournaments.
The Newzoo research firm forecasts that in 2019 esports are expected to hit 450 million more viewers and the maximum profit of $1 billion. And while this is a small sum compared to the global music industry, a value of $19.1 billion, esports also attract fans in the music industry.
Therefore, innovation in esports from diverse technology, entertainment and commercial groups putting together Esports BAR is making this new phenomenon more formal.
And now, Midem so Esports BAR together want to bring music producers, record labels, retailers and holders of rights to a new yet rapidly growing media ecosystem.
“Rock and fans ‘ experiences are very different,” Gambetta says. Live esports events, comparable to music festivals, are high-performance audio-visual activities. There is also new audiovisual material surrounding music created in the sports industry. “Midem is a great forum for businesses to gather and publish information and understand that music plays an important role in esports,” says Pieter van Rijn, CEO of FUGA Digital Music Distribution Company.
How Esports Betting Affects the Industry
There appears to be a big market that is here to stay, not just the new gambling phenomenon. There are many reasons for the rise of eSports gambling. Second, it’s only natural for people who are in eSports, who want to pay for their expertise while attending eSports games.
ESports are very colorful, there are many surprises and in minutes things can change. This is why e-Sports betting can prove lucrative, but also very thrilling. If you wager on it, watching a match will be much more interesting than watching without gambling.
ESports games are broadcast online live, and usually free to view, making things much easier for viewers and punters in eSports. Millions of people are watching eSports, competitions are competitive, the game is broken into integral parts like maps and maps and other information like kills are registered and it is easy to see why eSports, close to traditional sports, is ideal for gambling.
Betting on eSports became widely known soon after eSports, at least as competitive games, if not as athletics. Yet eSports betting didn’t appear to become so popular, and certainly didn’t seem to be recognized and began offering eSports betting.
There were several reasons to doubt whether eSports gambling would become a major feature.
Next, eSports themselves are extremely uncontrolled and the players fatigued game cheating and other risks. In comparison, eSports primarily targeted teenagers and young adults, which means that the highest proportion of the target population was less than 18.
Skin gambling seemed to be the most prevalent form of eSports betting and real money betting would be limited to wagering among friends and a small number of somewhat depressing online sites. Yet things have changed, and quite rapidly they have changed.
Drake, Lopez and Steve Aoki investing in Esports
In order to reach a wider audience, Games developer Riot Games has approached FUGA to sell the songs to an audience broader, hosting high-performing competitions focused on its game of League of Legends (LoL) and creating in-house music.
In South Korea, last year’s opening ceremony of the Riot games championship event was the K / DA K-pop group live music, followed by the LoL characters ‘ Augmented Reality models, which chanted POP / STARS from Riot Games.
Riot Games wants the help of a marketing company such as FUGA to distribute this product to mainstream music fans.
ENTER Records, which is a joint-venture company with the ESL sports group, established major labels with Universal Music Group (UMG). The FatRat, which has increased its fan base of music available for esports entertainment, has already been included in ENTER Music. German electronic music is now available.
“We find out that the average player can spend up to 10 hours listening to Music.” Dirk Baur, CEO of Universal Music Labs Germany at a recent Esports BAR Conference in Cannes: “We have found that FatRat is a good example of how we use music at events; it provides added value for the way we do.” As Twitch streamed Drake online, a player himself, last year, Tyler Ninja Blevin broke most records.
Consumers of esports “are among the most technologically integrated and not reachable by other means,” says Gambetta, adding: “Sports are a promotional platform that allows its highly-touched audiences to perform music. We are happy to be able to put together the two industries.
Atlanta (CNN Business)”Fortnite” is big business and an unlikely cultural phenomenon that is sweeping the globe.
The multiplayer video game, about an impending ecological crisis threatening the survival of humanity, is about to have its Super Bowl.
The Fortnite World Cup finals will take place at Arthur Ashe tennis stadium in Queens, New York this weekend. Players from all over the world have flown to the Big Apple and will compete over a $30 million prize pool.
If you’re not among the millions of people playing “Fortnite” and are feeling left behind, we break down everything you need to know.
Let’s start with the basics. What the heck is this game?
“Fortnite” is essentially a crossover between “The Hunger Games” (a post-apocalypse battle) and “Minecraft” (a creative sandbox where players can build anything they like). You can play it on Xbox, PlayStation, Windows and Mac platforms
There are two versions: “Fortnite: Save the World,” which has players banding together to fight off zombie-like monsters who drop from storm clouds, and its free (and more popular) spinoff, “Fortnite Battle Royale,” which pits up to 100 players against each other in a frenzied fight for survival. Last one standing wins.
‘Hunger Games?’ Monsters?? This game sounds violent
“Fortnite” is rated T for Teen, which means suitable for ages 13 and up. It certainly contains violence, but its animation is cartoon-like and there’s no blood or gore.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board explains its parental guidance this way: “This is an action game in which players build forts, gather resources, craft weapons and battle hordes of monsters in frenetic combat … players use guns, swords, and grenades … (and) can also defeat enemies by using various traps (e.g., electric, spikes, poisonous gas). Battles are highlighted by frequent gunfire, explosions, and cries of pain.”
Some parents have complained about the game. But while the objective is to kill all of your opponents, “Fortnite” is nowhere near as violent as games like “Call of Duty” or “Grand Theft Auto.”
What makes it so popular?
One driving factor behind “Fortnite’s” popularity is its cost, or lack thereof. Because the “Battle Royale” version is entirely free and accessible on a number of platforms, it has a low barrier to entry — allowing new players to quickly acclimate and feel accomplished.
The developers of the game are attuned to its popularity and release updates weekly with new items and actions.
Players also compete on Twitch, an Amazon-owned live streaming site for gamers, and now on the Nintendo Switch (although they’re still working out the bugs on this platform).
The game’s spontaneity and cartoonish glee make it highly accessible. But “Fortnite” also has a high-skill ceiling, keeping players hooked and eager to improve.
How is this game making any money if it’s free?
The original version of “Fortnite” costs $40, and a deluxe version is $60. But it mostly turns a profit from its in-game currency, V-bucks.
“Fortnite” generates most of its money from in-game purchases.
Players spend real money to acquire V-bucks, which can be used to buy customizable aspects of the game such as tools, weapons, outfits and even emotes.
Slow down — what’s an emote?
Emotes are dances or gestures that characters can do in the game. They are one of the most popular aspects of “Fortnite” and have generated hundreds of memes.
Popular emotes include the Floss dance, Carlton’s “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” dance and the Take the L dance, in which a player makes an L on their forehead while kicking, donkey-like, from side to side.
Is it a passing fad, or is ‘Fortnite’ here to stay?
“Fortnite” remains the biggest video game in esports, although it is starting to lose momentum. That’s why, in a bid to remain popular, Epic Games is throwing its giant Fortnite sporting event this weekend. Fans of the game range from 13-year-old boys to 30-something gamers.
The game is also popular with celebrities. Rappers Drake and Travis Scott, NFL player JuJu Smith-Schuster and popular Twitch gamer Ninja all competed on a Twitch livestream of the game and broke the site’s record for concurrent viewers.
Other famous fans of the game include Joe Jonas, Chance the Rapper and Norm MacDonald.
By Josh Axelrod and Saeed Ahmed, CNN Business PUBLISHED JULY 26, 2019
— Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article was published June 17, 2018. CNN’s Brandon Griggs contributed to this story.
Mercedes-Benz and eSports — isn’t that a contradiction? On the one side there’s a brand that even today is often regarded as conservative, has a tradition going back 130 years, and is associated with motorsports. On the other side is a sport whose players and fans used to be mocked as “nerds” and nowadays get excited about fantasy role-playing and “cosplay” (costume play, a performance art whose participants wear costumes representing their favorite fantasy characters — see below).
Outsiders would probably not even mention Mercedes-Benz and eSports in the same breath. Nonetheless, we have been one of the pioneers sponsoring eSports since 2017. At first glance, our partnership seems to be a mismatch — but in fact we fit together very well! In this blog post I’d like to take you with me into the world of virtual sports.
ESL One was held in Birmingham in early June. And Mercedes-Benz was in the midst of it! A big Mercedes EQC star shined brightly above the stage. The audience joined the jury in the vote for the “Mercedes-Benz MVP” — the Most Valuable Player in the tournament. People could play games inside a “Mercedes-Benz In-Car-Gaming CLA,” and there are many similar highlights.
We want to communicate authentically in the world of eSports, and that’s why we’ve expanded our activities as a partner of ESL. In addition to its already existing premium partnership with ESL, Mercedes-Benz is now also the event’s exclusive and global mobility partner.
That’s kind of cool — but you might still be wondering WHY Mercedes-Benz is involved in eSports. Here are five reasons why:
1. Because eSports are definitely sports
We’ve already explained the Top 3 misunderstandings about eSports. In our opinion, the argument that eSports participants are not real athletes is not justified. The cognitive demands and strains of eSports have been sufficiently documented, and the players’ physical fitness is becoming increasingly important.
Independently of the sports-science perspective, eSports are also sports that should be taken seriously from a marketing standpoint. “Event eSports” such as ESL One function exactly like “traditional” sports! Thomas Müller from the Bayern Munich soccer team is known as a star with rough edges — and in exactly the same way, there are also well-known faces in the eSports scene. The Birmingham Arena, which will be filled with 15,800 spectators in T-shirts representing their favorite teams, is completely sold out. Millions of spectators will also be streaming the matches, complete with live commentary, on their mobile terminals. The arenas, the stars, the fans, the playing field — from a marketing standpoint, there are clear parallels between “traditional” sports and eSports.
2. Because eSports are a growing market
The eSports market is growing by leaps and bounds. The financial forecasts for the years ahead are tripping over themselves with superlatives, no matter what specialist report you’re reading. A current article in the sport business magazine SPONSORs predicts that in 2019 the revenues from global eSports will pass the US$1 billion threshold for the first time — and this figure is due to increase.
So it’s fantastic that in this market Mercedes-Benz is perceived as one of the pioneers of “non-endemic” eSports sponsorship. “Non-endemic” refers to companies and their products that are not directly part of the eSports scene — by contrast, endemic sponsors would include video game or electronic hardware producers. By comparison with its direct automotive competitors, Mercedes-Benz is clearly in the lead when it comes to eSports sponsorship. From a global perspective, many major corporate groups such as McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are investing in eSports. Why are they doing that?
3. Because eSports reach a future-oriented, attractive target group
Through eSports it’s possible to reach a special young target group that does not exist in “traditional” sport sponsorships in this configuration and in these dimensions. Let’s take a closer look at this target group. The core of this community consists of highly educated millennials.
85% of the core target group is between the ages of 18 and 34. An above-average proportion of the core target group is firmly established in a career and has a high level of purchasing power. In addition, the target group is strikingly tech-savvy. That’s why this community is especially interesting for us as an automaker.
Establishing contact with the members of this target group as early as possible and providing them with a positive experience of the Mercedes-Benz brand can tip the scales later on, when an individual is deciding whether to buy a car from Mercedes-Benz or a competing brand. In other words, the goal of our sponsorship has been designed with the long term in mind. In particular, the future-oriented themes of mobility that are relevant for us, such as carsharing and autonomous driving, are central topics to which the community is more receptive than the average consumer.
4. Because eSports have impressive reach figures
From a global perspective, eSports have long been more than just a youth-related phenomenon. In 2017, 81 million people all over the world were playing that year’s most popular game, the League of Legends (LoL) — that’s a far greater number than the population of France (67 million). In 2018, 17.7 million spectators watched the NBA basketball finals. The peak number of online spectators of the LoL championships in 2018 was 205 million fans! And if we compare the Facebook followers of VfB Stuttgart (547,000) with those of the eSports team “Fnatic” (2.5 million), here too the numbers speak for themselves. eSports have a much higher profile in North America and Asia than they do in Europe. At the end of last year, China built a whole “eSports City” from scratch in Hangzhou. It cost €254 million and covers an area the size of 68 soccer fields. China plans to invest an additional €2 billion in this facility between now and 2022. And there are further impressive figures concerning eSports, thanks to their diversity.
5. Because eSports have a positive effect on the image of Mercedes-Benz
From a global perspective, Mercedes-Benz benefits from its involvement in an attractive and unique environment. The brand’s image looks fresher and more modern thanks to its close links with the eSports community. The fans, stars, and organizers of this global scene are younger and more closely connected with one another than those of any other sport.
The key to this closeness is the fast communication that the Internet makes possible. Because of the high degree of interaction within the community, sponsors are noticed quickly. They receive direct feedback on platforms such as Twitch and Reddit — platforms that are difficult to penetrate otherwise. Most importantly, the Mercedes-Benz brand strictly distances itself from ego-shooter games and other games that propagate or glorify violence!
What are the next steps?
In the Mercedes-Benz sport sponsorship portfolio, eSports are a logical complement to sports such as golf and Formula 1 auto racing. Sponsors are tapping into a young, attractive, and tech-savvy target group that other sports cannot offer — and that’s why companies are investing in this sport. At Mercedes-Benz, our involvement with this up-and-coming sport is by no means over. We have expanded our cooperation with ESL. This year we’ve already been in Katowice, Poland and Mumbai, and now we’re in Birmingham. In October we’ve got a “home game” at ESL One in Hamburg. And our agenda for next year will once again include four major events and dozens of tournaments in the Mercedes-Benz markets. So stay online!
Not quite sure what eSports is? Whether it’s a medium for entertainment, a hobby in one’s freetime, or a potential source of revenue from bets, it’s clear that eSports is something everyone should be on the lookout for, especially as its popularity increases. As you can see below, eSports tournaments are able to not only match, but outshine other traditional sporting events. eSports professional gamers can make millions per year. The old adage that video games will ruin your life is officially dead. Don’t believe us? Read this article – Highest Paid eSports Players in the World and you’ll start to understand.
One poll, taken last year by Washington Post-University of Massachusetts Lowell found that 58 percent of 14-to- 21-year-olds said they watched people playing competitive video games, with a similar percentage reporting that they played such games themselves.
Okay, But What Is It?
Before understanding the radical growth of eSports, let’s first establish the basics. eSports is a video game sport that encompasses a wide range and variety of video games, fans, and viewers. It is played worldwide, typically by professional gamers and in tournaments that have boasted record viewerships of over 100 million fans, like the 2017 World Championship for League of Legends, according to analyst website eSports Charts.
And eSports is played on many more games than League of Legends (frequently referred to as LoL). Although LoL is one of the most popular PC video games for eSports both in the United States and internationally, you may also recognize more pop culturally significant titles like Fortnite, Super Smash Bros, or Call of Duty.
How Does The Sport Work?
Types of Games Generally, the types of games played by professional players or teams can be strategy games, which include multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games, like LoL, and real-time strategy (RTS) games. Other extremely popular genres include first-person shooter (FPS) games, or fighting games. Although not considered strategy games, these types of games still involve equal amounts of skill, teamwork, and quick reflexes.
Real-time strategy games are called so because they break from the format of traditional turn-based games. Players must control units to react to events as the game progresses, and these games often have resources and building mechanics to further challenge players. Popular examples of RTS games in eSports include StarCraft II or Warcraft III.
MOBA is by far, the most popular genre in terms of viewership and prize money. MOBA games, which originally spawned as a sub-genre of RTS games, are team strategy games where teams work together against an opposing team to take out their base while defending their own. In 2018, the top prize money for the LoL World Championship was nearly $6.5 million dollars. Another popular MOBA game, Dota 2, had a total prize pool of over $25 million dollars in the 2018 championship and over 52 million total viewers.
One of the most universally recognized eSports genres, first-person shooter games include classic franchises like Call of Duty, Rainbow Six, and Counter-Strike, as well as the more recently popular battle royale genre with titles like Fortnite and PlayerUnknown: Battlegrounds. These games center around weapon-based combat through the eyes of the main character, and usually involve teams competing against each other.
Lastly, fighting games, which include Mortal Kombat and Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros, are games which usually focus on individual players’ skills and tactics in round-based matches.
How The Games Are Played Watching an eSports tournament, you’ll see the same type of setup we’ve all become familiar with after watching traditional sports. Commentators provide information on the teams, players, and the leagues and tournaments, while a live audience usually watches as the games unfold. Like traditional sporting games, the matches and tournaments are broadcast live to the hundreds or millions of fans that watch live through live streaming platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook.
One of the only things slowing the growth of eSports (which, by the way, is still growing at an insane rate- the audience has expanded by just over 50% since 2016 to now include 557 million total casual viewers and enthusiasts) is the lack of a national or international professional league, like with the NFL or the Olympics.
Due to this lack of an official professional league for eSports, a unique structured system has established itself in the industry. Players organize themselves by specific games, and the games are run and regulated by tournaments or leagues that host the large tournaments and set up the seasons for the sport.
Similar to how American football was organized before the creation of the NFL, teams are organized into a variety of different regions and leagues based on geographic locations. Many leagues focus on specific countries or continents.
The key thing to note is that teams and players are almost always separated by specific games, so they are whittled down throughout seasons through series matches that put teams and players against each other for multiple games in a row. Often, in FPS games, specific teams are extremely skilled or prepared for certain maps over others, so multiple rounds are needed before elimination.
Live Gameplay With the use of live streaming platforms, like the incredibly popular Twitch streaming site, professional gamers or leagues are able to reach endless amounts of fans in real time. For individual players, this means one on one and more personal interactions with fans. And for large tournament streams, this means real-time engagement with millions of fans and a greater impact on ads that millions of viewers will watch through as they attempt to see every moment of the matches.
According to Twitch analytic site TwitchTracker, the nearly 600,000 average viewers on the streaming site in 2016 is expected to have grown to 1.28 million by the end of this year. Looking at the graph below, the dramatic growth of live streaming services is shown to be clear.
Where Does The Money Come From?
As you can see above, there’s a lot of focus on and attention to viewership and revenue in the eSports system. Large game developers, major brand names, and investors with millions of dollars placed on the future of the market are all involved in the hundreds of millions of dollars that eSports generate.
It’s no surprise then that the growing industry of eSports is capable of large amounts of revenue. According to one analysis by Newzoo, an industry analyst, eSports has seen a more than 30% average annual revenue increase, with most of this generated from brand contributions. And, according to that same analysis, eSports is predicted to generate well over $345 million dollars in revenue in North America and over half a billion dollars overseas.
Clearly industry has seen a large increase in revenue in recent years as more and more people are realizing the potential profit involved with the rapidly growing industry. Newzoo also predicted that by 2021, eSports will be generating over $1.6 billion in total revenue, with $1.3 billion coming from these brand investments.
In 2018, the well respected gambling industry research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming predicted that by 2020, the global eSports betting market would be generating $13 billion dollars. And this report came before the legalization of sports betting in the United States in 2019. Across Europe and Asia, eSports betting markets have been active and regulated for some time now.
A 2019 article by Inside World football found that “at least 40% of spectators have not played in the video games they watch,” and that “the demographic is 62% male and 38% female, with more than half aged between 21 and 35 years old.” These statistics reveal the reality that Esports is becoming a spectator sport, with potential revenue to be made from the large amounts of people that enjoy watching the sport for entertainment.
The previously referenced article also revealed that, in 2016, over $5.5 billion was wagered on major eSports titles. There are already connections being made in the United States with established gambling organizations. For example, in 2018 gaming provider Paddy Power Betfair acquired the daily fantasy site FanDuel, with FanDuel CEO telling reporters, “eSports is definitely an area of focus for us. If you look at Vegas, there are lots of people who bet on eSports. To use a Wayne Gretzky analogy, ‘That’s where the puck is going.’”
Firm’s latest analysis shows 46% of all video game enthusiasts are female
Newzoo has released new research that shows women make up almost half of all gamers, as well as offering some insight into how they engage with the medium.
The study broke down gamers of all types into eight distinct personalities based on their preferences and how much time they dedicate to gaming. This was developed by researching consumer habits from 30 markets around the world.
46% of the people spread across the eight gamer types were found to be female, amounting to more than one billion.
The most common type of female gamer is what Newzoo refers to as the ‘time filler’ — people who play games to pass the time, most likely on mobile. 36% of all women in the study came under this category, compared to 19% of men. In fact, women account for almost two thirds of all ‘time fillers.’
17% of women were considered ‘cloud gamers’, making this the second biggest category for the gender. According to Newzoo, ‘cloud gamers’ prefer high-quality games — especially if free-to-play or heavily discounted — and only spend on hardware when necessary. This is the group most likely to benefit from the likes of Google Stadia and Microsoft’s Project xCloud.
14% were classed as ‘popcorn gamers’, who enjoy playing games but prefer watching games content via Twitch, YouTube et al. Women made up 46% of all ‘popcorn gamers’, making it the most evenly balanced group in terms of genres. However, men aged 21 to 35 were most likely to fall into this category, accounting for 22% of ‘popcorn gamers.’
More than a fifth of all males were ‘cloud gamers’, making this their top category, followed by ‘time filler.’ Third was ‘ultimate gamer’ — those that love both playing and owning games, and dedicate the most time to it. 15% of men were classed as ‘ultimate gamers’ — just under two thirds of this group — versus 9% of women.
Women who were ‘ultimate gamers’ were most likely to be aged 26 to 30, whereas ‘time fillers’ were most likely to be 51 to 65 and ‘conventional gamers’ — those who prefer playing alone, and don’t watch much games content — were most likely to be aged 36 to 40.
There’s a new sport gaining popularity, and it doesn’t involve a field, a court or even a ball.
In this sport, you can catch gamers banging away at their keyboards, competing against other players in a virtual sphere.
This is the new world of esports, or electronic sports, and it is a growing phenomenon that’s attracting a new kind of athlete.
“I always say games are easy to pick-up on, difficult to master,” said Christian Anton, a third year student at the University of Denver and a member of the DU Esports Club team.
The world of esports just crowned its first world champion team, the London Spitfire, and a growing number of universities are even offering scholarships to competitive video gamers.
“It’s really becoming a mainstream activity, especially among millennials and those younger than me, like Gen Z,” Anton said.
Anton is a computer science major at DU, with a triple minor in mathematics, history and public policy. A smart guy who argues his fellow keyboard warriors are, without question, athletes.
“The definition of what is a sport and what isn’t is rather fluid,” Anton said. “Some people say stuff like car racing is a sport, while others say, ‘All they do is turn left for about three hours.’ What you can’t argue with is it’s a task that you can improve with over time and with practice.”
At DU and Colorado State University in Fort Collins, there are now both casual and competitive esports clubs.
“It really should be considered a sport,” said Kyle Tong, a founding member of the casual esports club at CSU.
The clubs even have team captains, like Reave Hosman, for different games and skill levels.
“With every incoming freshman or first year class, we’ve grown,” Hosman said. “We’ve doubled, we’ve tripled. It really is incredible.”
Gaming is also bucking the stereotype that it’s a loner activity.
“There is a lot of camaraderie among fellow gamers,” Tong said. “And they socialize together. They’ll play a game together and they’ll go talk and say, ‘Oh, you’re this person, you’re that person. It’s nice to get to know you in person. Oh, it’s great to meet you.'”
Esports is certainly big business, inspiring new gaming centers like a huge facility in the Denver suburb of Lakewood.
“It’s big enough to be called an arena,” said James Love, director of communications for N3rd Street Gamers. “We have one in Philadelphia and one in Denver. In a nut shell, esports is competitive video gaming. I like to call it the biggest industry that nobody has heard of because it has flown under the radar for so many years.”
But those days are perhaps over. And Love said these controller commandos exhibit uncanny reflexes and more.
“There is an extraordinary amount of hand-eye coordination,” Love said. “It also takes a lot of focus. It takes breathing. So, a lot of the training that goes into traditional sports translates to the training that esports athletes go through.”
Let’s get physical
At one of Denver’s premiere one-on-one physical training facilities, The Body Shaping Company, trainer Briana Phillips appreciates the intensity of gaming.
“There’s definitely some skill involved within esports,” Phillips said.
But, she said the dedication, focus and skills of traditional athletes versus gamers are night and day.
“On a physical level, having to perform, whatever sport it is — you can’t really create that sitting down watching a screen,” Phillips said. “It’s just a different level of physical activity, dedication and passion.”
Equestrienne Natalie Anderson spends several hours a week in the gym.
“This is what helps me continue to compete at the level that I enjoy doing,” Anderson said.
She argues the stakes are simply higher for traditional athletes compared to gamers.
“I can certainly appreciate the skill it takes to master anything,” Anderson said. “But, I don’t think they’re necessarily comparable in that you’re not putting your body on the line in esports. There’s just a physical component of, if I come in and I’m not focused, I could have a serious accident or get hurt.”
While there are certainly a myriad of opinions, esports is certainly a game changer. And, it’s dispelling stereotypes about playing video games.
Dispelling the stereotypes
“The idea that it’s a 300-pound guy in his mother’s basement or something like that? Totally wrong,” said University of Denver computer science professor and department chair Scott Leutenegger.
He said the intellectual abilities of esports athletes are unmatched and undeniable.
“Beyond fast reflexes, they work with a team, they communicate, they think ahead,” he said. “That’s called telescopic probing — if I do this and this and this. Just like chess. Thinking in multiple stages of what you are going to do, but unlike chess, you need to do it as a team. So, in many ways, it’s much more complex than chess.”
Leutenegger said gaming builds a sense of community and esports clubs can help build a university’s reputation.
“I do think more and more universities will be providing scholarships to esports athletes. Absolutely,” Leutenegger said.
Are the players nerds of jocks? He said probably both.
He also pointed out that there are thousands of job opportunities in esports game development and programming.
“These students are actually getting into a career field that is going to be rewarding to them in many ways,” Leutenegger said. “It is going to be lucrative to them.”
Women in esports
For professionals like Cait Culpepper, esports is a culture and career field that’s changing all the time.
“It’s exciting,” she said.
She said her handle name is ‘TinyCait.’
Culpepper is breaking barriers. First, as a woman in esports.
“I think there’s definitely room in this esports sphere,” she said. “We just need to make room for ourselves.”
And second, beyond competing, she’s making a name for herself as an esports event organizer.
“My dad always asked me how I was going to make money doing this,” Culpepper said. “I spent 10 years in the fashion industry in Los Angeles. Eventually, I was like – I just need to take a risk and try to get into this industry and it has worked out so far. I’m an event manager planning big, amateur, open tournaments.”
Those kinds of tournaments can pay out huge purses, similar to golf.
Love said the prize pools range from $500 to $10,000, and it’s only growing. The higher you place, the more you earn.
“Just like every sport, you have the elites,” Leutenegger said. “And you can make a lot of money.”
Beyond that, Anton said you can also pick up sponsors and some leagues are discussing annual salaries.
“They’re trying to make salaried employees where their primary income is from their sports team, like the NFL or NBA,” Anton said.
Corporations are certainly starting to take the surge in popularity seriously. In a recent tournament that aired nationwide, Coca Cola, Toyota and State Farm all paid for advertising time.
Eliminating socioeconomic barriers
The doors at N3rd Street Gamers are also wide open to the casual gamer. It’s just $10 to play for four hours.
“There’s a low barrier of entry,” said Love. “And there’s a huge demographic of gamers here. We want to provide you a safe place to game with the best equipment possible.”
Whether you consider them athletes or not, esports are certainly becoming more mainstream and popular by the minute.
“It’s not a sport in the traditional sense. We’re not physically exerting ourselves, that’s pretty obvious,” Hosman said. “But, I would say that these games, with the amount of focus and the amount of hand-eye coordination and the amount of effort that we put in, are as — if not more — mentally draining than any other sport out there that people play.”
Tong said they have the competitive spirit — their fun just happens to take place on a computer.
“What’s so wrong with that?” he said.
Anton said esports is also a great way to make new friends.
“Everybody on the team has a different role they can fill, or several different roles,” he said. “Just like you have your quarterback, your linemen and your wide receivers in football. In a game such as Overwatch, you have your team.”
Those teams include several different roles, like healers, attackers, attacks and more. The team has a goal they work toward together.
“It’s not a bunch of couch potatoes,” Leutenegger said. “It’s a bunch of active people that also do esports.”
Esports organization Gen. G has raised $46 million in funding with big name Will Smith part of the group of investors. This move comes as China looks to capitalize on esports growth in the region and new tournaments fill up the esports calendar for 2019. The new funding will help increase brand awareness and prepare teams for future tournaments.
It also helps to have such a star as Will Smith investing their cash into your organization. The industry as a whole is expected to pull in more than $1 billion in revenue.
Say hello to the European Esports Federation
National esports organizations from 12 countries within Europe gathered in Berlin to discuss plans to launch a new European Esports Federation, which would be positioned as such that it would be able to oversee the industry in participating countries. As reported by Esports Insider, attendees compiled The Berlin Declaration, outlining what the group aims to achieve.
Countries who sent representatives to the event to found the new European Esports Federation included the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Turkey, Russia, Sweden, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Belgium. With so much money expected to be generated from esports in the coming years, it makes sense to start forming such federations.
Let’s FACEIT, PUBG was great in London
This weekend saw the FACEIT Global Summit competitive finals for PUBG held in London. Attendees who watched the games at the ExCeL Arena in London were rewarded with the opportunity to win big using their FACEIT accounts as an added bonus. The event was but phase one of PUBG’s esports calendar for 2019, inviting 24 teams from around the world to participate on the big stage.
We’ll have additional coverage from the show at the ExCeL Arena in London so stay tuned.
“The Simpsons” has featured esports in an episode.
It shows the growing significance and popularity of the esports industry.
He has discovered a comet. He has performed in a boy band. Now Bart Simpson has found himself at the heart of what could be a billion-dollar industry this year: esports.
The perennial Springfield Elementary School student became an electronic sports athlete — esports athlete, for short — in Sunday’s episode of “The Simpsons” titled “E My Sports.” Bart essentially gets a new computer and finds himself glued to “Conflict of Enemies,” based on Tencent-owned publisher Riot Games’ “League of Legends” game. He eventually travels to Seoul to play in a world championship match with Homer acting as coach after the latter finds out how much money can be made in esports (the highest-paid players can make millions).
Co-executive producer Rob LaZebnik said the episode was meant to embody a “cultural tipping point” that has seen esports dominate a lot of conversation about the future of entertainment, sports and media.
“I think it feels kind of inevitable,” LaZebnik told CNBC. “Obviously, video games have been around for a very long time now, and combine that with the fact that everyone is online and on his or her phone, [the expansion of esports] feels so inevitable to me.”
“League of Legends” has been one of the key games driving the growth of esports for years, with 2018′s World Championship finals drawing in almost 100 million unique viewers, about the same number as this year’s NFL Super Bowl.
This comes as esports viewership and revenue overall has increased year on year. Research firm Newzoo estimates that the global esports audience, which includes casual and dedicated viewers, will reach almost 454 million this year. Company sponsorships could account for up to 42 percent of the $1.1 billion in revenue projected by Newzoo.
Riot Games, which was consulted for the episode, says “The Simpsons’” focus on esports benefits the industry as a whole.
“We hope that this episode, on top of all the work we’re doing around the world establishing leagues that are working with leading brands like Nike and Mercedes-Benz, as well as the rising popularity of streamers and pro players, will make a real impact on how people view ‘League of Legends’ esports in the long term,” a Riot representative told CNBC.
The show producers toured the training facilities of one of the world’s oldest esports teams, Team Liquid, for the episode. Team Liquid owner and industry veteran Steve Arhancet ultimately believes esports’ appearance on “The Simpsons” shows the staying power of the space in Western culture, a shift from the more Asia-focused approach esports had traditionally taken in the past.
“There’s many young kids out there who will empathize with this episode on ‘The Simpsons’ more than any other football, soccer or basketball episode they’ve created — just like I would have,” he said. “It’s another milestone that shows esports is here to stay.”
by Annie Pei PUBLISHED MON, MAR 18 2019 • 9:06 AM EDT