January 26th, 2022
If you look back over the last decade, the growth in popularity of Esports is undeniable. There are more teams participating, more tournaments to enter and bigger prize pools up for grabs. With the COVID-19 pandemic, we realised something that the gaming community have always known - almost everything can be done online. While other industries were learning how to take their classes, doctor appointments, etc. online, the Esports scene was just skyrocketing. It only makes sense, then, that we can expect even more growth over the next ten years. In our latest blog, we have had a go at making our predictions for the future of Esports.
Into the Mainstream
One thing our team agreed on almost unanimously was that Esports will be adopted even more into the mainstream. This means that global market leaders will become active investors, partners and sponsors in the industry. There will likely be more sports teams that want diversification of their brand, dipping into Esports as Manchester City, PSG, and Ajax have done. While it makes sense for a football club's Esports division to get into FIFA, it would be quite interesting to see them consider the likes of CS:GO and League of Legends. On top of this, mainstream sports broadcasters looking to get into Esports will probably discover that rather than trying to bring esports viewers to TV, they're better off streaming their Esports coverage on Twitch. Many Esports production companies already rival the quality of mainstream sports broadcasters. The likes of Sky and BT should invest more in esports, but not with the intention of selling esports fans their TV packages.
With the growth into these spaces and the backing of big names, it might even be possible to see Esport viewership overtake that of traditional sports. I know at first glance, that claim seems outrageous, but we’ve already seen that the 2019 League of Legends championship grand final earned more spectators than the 2020 Superbowl.
Hopefully, with a rise in mainstream coverage, we will begin to see a much more diverse Esports scene.
Firstly, in gameplay. Hopefully, there will be a wider range of games and new genres that have generally been neglected, rising to popularity (much like Battle Royales and Fortnite). It is likely, however, that there will always be a popular FPS (first-person shooter) and MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena), and It's likely the latest release in the Counter-Strike series and League of Legends - or at least Riot's latest MOBA offerings will still be popular.
In terms of players, it is imperative that we begin to see better representation. While Esports is a multi-national industry, there is still a massive gender gap. We predict that we will begin to see women-only teams and tournaments widely accepted, as well as women being involved in the "main" teams and tournaments.
Rise to Fame
One of the most interesting developments with the rise in popularity of a sport is the celebrity status that its participants have the potential to gain. At present, there are the big names, heralded by those in the know but, rarely do those names permeate any significance outside of the Esports circles. This is something that has the potential to change, should the industry hit the mainstream. One of the most interesting components in the rise to fame is controversy. A perfect example of this is YouTube. Many of us remember a time when YouTube was a very niche platform for smaller creators to put out the odd video. It could be argued that controversy was a key element in bringing attention to many of the individuals on YouTube and was one of the outstanding factors that launched them into fame. Now YouTube is the home for millions of successful content creators, influencers and all-out international celebrities. Our team recognises that there hasn't been any big controversies in Esports for a while now, and 2022 could be the year for such as it gains more and more traction. The big question is, will Esports personalities rise to the status of well-known sports celebs in the near future?
According to our Virtual Events Lead, Alex, who considers himself an avid Esports fan, trying to predict the future of the Esports industry in 10 years time is “near-impossible but it's certainly fun to try”. Though many of our predictions may be projections of what we hope to see, we are still extremely excited for what’s to come. One thing we are sure of though is the Esports scene as we know it will change drastically.