As the momentum continues to build speed, the previous couple of months have been further example of how prominent esports has become, and will be in the coming future. Here we look at a few of the many developments in the esports community.
Nike’s sponsorship of China’s LoL Pro League
At the end of February, global sports giant Nike confirmed a four-year sponsorship of China’s League of Legends Pro League. Nike have committed to suppling all 16 squads with clothing and footwear starting this year. This comes hot on the heels of the inclusion of an esports star in one of the brands marketing campaigns last year. On top of apparel Nike have also stated they are looking to work with esports stars to help design custom training plans to help them improve.
You could actually say that Nike are late to the party as they aren’t the first sports brand to get in on the esports action, as Puma and Adidas are already involved in the community. However you can’t ignore the significance of the likes of Nike throwing their hat in the ring with a multi-year commitment.
It was announced in March by Philadelphia sports and entertainment company, Comcast Spectator, and real estate development firm The Cordish Companies, that they have plans to build a $50 million esports arena. The plans are for the 3,500 seater arena to begin being built in Philadelphia during the summer of this year, and will be the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
This is hugely significant as it continues to demonstrate how much of a spectator sport video games really can be. Not only are fans wanting to watch streams, which with the likes of youtube and twitch has made so easy, fans are willing to travel to be there in person, and be part of the experience, much like traditional sports.
Love it or hate it, there is no denying your significance in popular culture once you feature on The Simpsons. esports now joins this club as in March, The Simpsons aired their first esports episode – “E my sports”. And this was not just a haphazard sarcastic take on the subject. The Simpsons creators worked closely with Riot Game, creators of League of Legends, to make sure the representation of the culture was correct.
esports is as professional as what would be considered traditional sports, and The Simpsons episode goes some way to highlight this. esports athletes train, practice and compete at incredibly high levels, and fans get behind individuals and teams just as they would a football or rugby team. It won’t happen overnight, but the perception of gaming and gamers is changing and positive looks at the esports community like this only serve to help the cause, legitimise its image and grow even more awareness.
Serious Prize Money
As highlighted by the value of the industry as a whole, there should be no surprise that there is some serious money in esports. This was also touched on in The Simpson’s episode, with Homer’s surprise that you can actually make money from video games. Not only can you make money, you can make an awful lot of money in professional esports.
In April there was the Blast Pro Series: Miami 2019 – a CSGO tournament with a prize pool of $250k. Back in 2017 Team Liquid competed in 1,130 tournaments and earned a collective $18 million. Their highest earner on the team, Kuro Takhasomi aka KuroKy racked himself up $2.8 million in prize money for the year. So if that doesn’t put into perspective the size of the industry, I’m not sure what will.
It’s an exciting time for esports, and we certainly will be keeping a close eye on the developments. And who knows, you may even see the Etch Play esports team get off and running in the near future, although judging by the lunchtime Rocket League practice sessions, that may be some way off…..