eSports refers to organized video gaming events or tournaments that culminate in championships at regional and international level, in which professional and amateur players compete against one another. The rapidly growing phenomenon surrounding eSports (electronic sports) continues to gather steam, as the intersection of gaming and sports offers an innovative wave of branding opportunities, engaging content and activations for millions across the world.
The eSports market is experiencing a rapid growth, despite being in its formative stage. In 2016, worldwide revenues generated in the eSports market amounted to 492.7 million U.S. dollars. By 2020, the market is expected to generate over 1.48 billion U.S. dollars in revenues, which indicates a compound annual growth rate of 32 percent. These revenues came from betting, prize pools and tournaments, but overwhelmingly from sponsorship and advertising, which brought in almost 661 million U.S. dollars in 2016. In terms of revenue, Asia was the biggest eSports market overall, followed by North America and Europe.
The easy accessibility of eSports is bound to attract more and more audiences in the coming years. In 2016, the number of eSports enthusiasts and occasional viewers totaled 323 million. The number of viewers who regularly follow the industry and tune in to watch international competitions is projected to nearly double by 2020. In terms of title popularity, the League of Legends takes the lead, especially when looking at the number of registered players. As of mid-2015, the game had a player base of 67 million. That same year, 36 million individuals streamed the League of Legends World Championships online, which represented a 33% increase from 2014.
From the DOTA 2 competitions offering millions of dollars to winning players, to Call of Duty extending its reach into the million-dollar prize pools, eSports is gradually becoming a worldwide profession for individuals. As of February 2017, The International 2016 was the leading tournament of all time, in terms of overall prize pool. And so, many gamers see the appeal of such rewards and partake in numerous tournaments and championship, either as individual contestants or in teams. Among the leading players known to the industry is the U.S. player Peter Dager, who earned 2.62 million U.S. dollars throughout his recorded eSports gaming career. However, female eSports players still earn considerably less, with Sasha Hostyn, known as Scarlett, having recorded overall profits of 171 thousand U.S. dollars as of March 2017. All in all, with the constantly growing eSports market, the earnings are bound to grow and attract masses of new, skilled players.
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