What Esports and Sports Have in Common
My equipment is a keyboard and mouse.
Welcome to the world of esports. It might seem that has happened overnight, but this was decades in the making, and now esports are on the same stage as traditional sporting events, literally. For people who are new to it, you might think there is nothing that esports has in common with regular sporting events. But you might be surprised by how many similarities they actually have. From filling out arenas to bringing in serious numbers of viewers, esports has taken the successful model of traditional sports and applied it to the digital age.
1) Esports Tournaments Fill Up Stadiums
If you go to a big esports tournament, you might see something you would see at a football game: thousands and thousands of screaming fans cheering for their favourite player. Yes, esports are not only very popular, but they fill up arenas as well as a playoff game does. In order to make the game more exciting, they use large screens in the middle of the arena so fans can watch from all sides. Under the screens are the players who use their reflexes to get the edge on their opponents. I have seen events that were set up on a stage like you would see in a movie theatre where everyone was looking forward, and I have seen larger events that took place in a stadium where the action was 360 degrees.
And when I say these tournaments fill an arena I mean it. The last Fortnite tournament was held at the Arthur Ashe Stadium and had over 19,000 tickets sold. That is rows and rows of cheering fans up to the rafters. There are even stadiums that are built especially for esports. In Texas, they have built the Esports Arlington Arena that is 100,000 square feet and cost $10 million dollars.
2. There Is Serious Money for the Athletes
The last winner of the Fortnite World Cup took home a 3 million dollar USD prize, and he was only a teenager. Imagine if they had those kind of prizes in Street Fighter 2 arcades back in the day. Tournaments are starting to get bigger and bigger prizes for the winners and those who do well. But it is not only the prize money where players can see a paycheck. A lot of them have sponsors, and like soccer players on the field, you will see brands on their jersey as they take to the stage. There are more tech sponsors in esports like Intel and Twitch, but you will still find large brands like Coke backing an epsorts player like he was Lebron James.
Then you have the streaming. Not only can players make good money from winning, but if they go on Twitch, they can livestream their game for more consistent revenue. There is a sort of celebrity status that is akin to an athlete that helps to promote their videos.
3. There Is a Lot of Variety in Esports
Maybe you are a soccer fan but do not like to watch basketball. Or maybe you follow every NBA game but have never seen a sport played on ice. There are lots of different sports that fans can follow, and it is the same when it comes to esports. If you are into fighting games you can watch Street Fighter in tournaments like Evo. Evo happens in Vegas every year and is the biggest event for fighting games. For fans of first person shooters, there are games like Call Of Duty or CS: GO. Of course you have Fortnite for people who like to watch Battle Royale type games. And for the MOBA fans, you don't get more popular than DOTA 2. Some games are more watched than others, but there is something for every fan.
4. Cities Have Esports Teams
Have you heard of the Shanghai Dragons or the Houston Outlaws? They sound like traditional sports teams, but these are actually Overwatch teams. Activision Blizzard was smart. They knew why sports were popular and decided to copy a model that has already proven to work. Having a city back your team is better than a fan backing a player, and this leads to a selection of teams that compete on a schedule similar to a season in a sport.
5. There Is a Score and a Rough Time Limit to Schedule Around
Sports like tennis usually last the same time per game, and a score of sets is given out that determines a winner. There is no difference when it comes to a lot of games. Matches in Overwatch have a timer each round and the team that wins so many matches takes home the win. Street Fighter tournaments have a "best of" series to determine who wins the match where each game won is a point. Fortnite is a little different as it has a last man standing, but each match has a timer where the map gets smaller and smaller and it will end when two people are left on a small terrain. A lot of games are more like baseball than hockey where you don't know exactly how long the match will go, but there is a good estimate of how long an event will go, and it is possible to schedule them just like traditional sports.