In Depth: eSports

The term eSports is one that has gradually come to prominence over the past few years. Now, though, more people than ever are familiar with the fact that computer games now have their own version of professional sports.

What Are eSports?

Competitive gaming is the simplest definition for eSports, which are now major televised events in parts of the world such as North American and Asia. Meanwhile, fans from all over the world have the ability to watch eSports games play out online.

How Quickly Are eSports Growing?

By the end of 2017, a market research specialist called Newzoo forecast that eSports would have worldwide viewing numbers of 385 million fans. In terms of revenue, Newzoo estimated that the market value would reach $696 million [£520 million] in 2017.

In just three years, Newzoo believes more than 589 million shall be watching eSports tournaments in 2020. That will also be the point at which the market is worth $1.48 billion [£1.11 billion], according to Newzoo.

Where Are eSports Popular?

Prize money is a strong indicator of the national popularity of eSports. On that basis, China leads the way after seeing players earn tens of millions. Not far behind is the US, while South Korea is another major destination for eSports.

The US, China, and South Korea are the current major destinations for eSports popularity. But the support of those countries and rise in web viewers could see eSports finally gain some traction in Europe, with Sweden producing a number of successful players.

Are They Really a Sport?

In this debate, the term eSports does add significant protection, given how the movement does not directly refer to itself as a sport. They merely add the “e” to demonstrate how eSports are an evolution of traditional sports.

And that evolution has certainly come to the fore, with ESPN now airing games and displaying eSports sore. Meanwhile, the network also has dedicated eSports casters to provide commentary and analysis.

eSports competitors certainly represent the next step in the evolution of sports, especially considering how they need to be the best in the world and secure sponsorships in regard to electronic equipment and sometimes trainers.

How Do Players Compete?

Human players can compete in a huge selection of eSports, and these can take a number of basic formats, in terms of how they compete:

  • Head to head: Players can compete in one vs. one eSports like fighting games or football matches. These can be inserted into league or tournaments as a means of finding the best competitors.
  • Team competition: There are many eSports that call for players to team up. In this case, the goal is usually to defeat another team of competitors. Typically, these match-ups can occur in tournaments or leagues.

Main Game Types in eSports

eSports can be categorised into a selection of computer game types that are suitable for competition. There are ones that are more popular than others, but each of the upcoming categories does have a significant audience:

  • MOBA: Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games are predominantly team-focused and draw in major viewership figures and inspire eSports betting. MOBAs such as Dota 2 and League of Legends can offer tournaments giving away millions.
  • FPS: First-person shooters (FPS) have existed since Doom and Duke Nukem were popular in the ‘90s, but graphical advancements have led to drastically more advanced releases, such as the Call of Duty series.
  • RTS: Real-time strategy is the genre that effectively inspired the rise of MOBAs. Going back a few years, RTS tournaments were extremely popular in South Korea, especially for games like StarCraft 2, but there has been a gradual slowdown.
  • Sports: FIFA is a world-renowned football game that people have been playing online for years, but now there is a more prominent success platform. Nowadays, the top FIFA players can compete in global eSports tournaments.
  • Fighting: This was the most popular eSports genre when players began to get competitive leading in the early-2000s. Street Fight has long been a darling of the genre, but eSports players have since adopted the likes of Super Smash Bros.
  • Cards: No eSport is off-limits so long as there are fans waiting to watch. Hearthstone is one of the leading options for playing with online collective cards, with players competing to build the best decks possible.

The Rewards of eSports Success

In computer games, players have always enjoyed bragging to their friends whenever they beat them, but now the rewards are much greater for success:

  • Wealth: Finishing on the winning team in an eSports tournament could lead to players receiving thousands of dollars each.
  • Prizes: In addition to cash, a tournament could also award electronics prizes courtesy of event sponsors.
  • Fame: At the end of the day, being on the top Dota 2 or League of Legends team in the world now brings adulation from viewers.

The Components of Top eSports Games

A single-player story experience will never make for a popular eSports game, as it entirely lacks a competitive element others. When it comes to eSports successes, the games need some of the following components:

  • Good design: The top eSports are played in games that viewers love to play themselves. A highly active League of Legends fan is going to be more interested in knowing who the world’s best players are.
  • Competitive nature: eSports are played out to decide who is the best. Whether it’s one on one or team-based, the game must have a competitive edge.
  • Loyal fan base: Overwatch has become a majorly popular FPS in a short space of time, but is now primed for eSports success, given how fans love to cosplay like the characters and create a deep bond with the game.
  • Suitable for streaming: MOBAs such as Dota 2 can capture the action from an array of angles, given that multiple players can be involved. This makes the game more suitable for streaming, as more action can be displayed.

How to Watch eSports

eSports are broadcast on a daily basis online, but you have to know where to watch. Plenty of eSports tournaments are broadcast online, while platforms can also show past footage.


YouTube Gaming has been established a dedicated broadcasting platform that is drawing in new streamers and often being used to show tournaments. In addition, YouTube is great for watching huge tournaments from previous competitions.


Twitch is a live streaming platform that focuses on the broadcasting of video games and eSports tournaments. After launching in 2011, Twitch is now owned by Amazon and has even greater resources. This has only strengthened a service that allows users to subscribe to their favourite streamers and interact with them through public text chat.

Becoming an eSports Fan

eSports tournaments are eye-catching events that even casual gamers might take an interest in, based on the sheer volume of action. Initially, however, it can be slow to get to grips with what is going on, but there are some steps to take:

  • Observe the action: Try to pay close attention because everything can change in an instant, and don’t be afraid to note down terms or questions. For instance, you can ask your fellow viewers if you are watching on Twitch.
  • Learn about the game: eSports games are playable outside of the professional environment. There is no better way to understand a game than by playing it for yourself.
  • Listen to eSports casters: An eSports caster has their position for a reason – they know what they are talking about. Try to start watching a tournament early to get the build-up analysis, and make sure to stick around for the recap.
  • eSports podcasts: Twitch and YouTube are filled with eSports podcasts you can watch. Try checking out some for your favourite games.

How to Try Competitive Gaming

Competitive gaming is a tough field to enter, but there are plenty of opportunities out there on a daily basis:

  • Console platforms: PlayStation Network and XBOX Live host competitive games and tournaments in more casual releases like FIFA or Call of Duty.
  • Use a good computer: The top streamers use a second PC just for broadcasting. Therefore, you need to have a quick laptop or PC just to play online.
  • Seek help and tips: Games like League of Legends and Dota 2 have their own intricacies that can take beginners ages to understand. Try to speed up the process by looking for specialist tips on dedicated blogs.

Popular eSports Games to Try

A handful of eSports have grown to colossal levels and could be worth trying:

  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: After springing out of the Half-Life series, CS:GO is a majorly popular FPS that attracts highly competitive teams.
  • League of Legends: Millions of dollars have been handed out in prize money since League of Legends began building a MOBA fan base in 2009.
  • Dota 2: The initial Defense of the Ancient was released in 2003 before the MOBA version was introduced to the eSports world in 2013.

eSports just seem to get more popular all the time, and now they are strong represented by online betting sites. This could benefit fans who know a lot about their favourite eSports.