E-sports, or electronic sports, is the playing of online games in competition form. Participants, so-called e-athletes, compete against each other on an individual or team level, depending on the type of computer game. The cradle of e-sports is in America. The Space Invaders Tournament was organized there in 1980 by game computer company Atari. In this game, players try to defeat as many aliens as possible with the help of a horizontally moving laser. With approximately 10,000 participants, the event is a great success.
The improvement of internet networks brought about major changes in the game world in the late 1990s. It is becoming possible to organize large game tournaments via LAN networks and the rise of the internet means that you can play online against gamers from all over the world. Now, almost thirty years later, the game industry has grown enormously. Technological developments have made games better and more realistic and the game industry with a turnover of about 150 billion is more than three times the size of the film industry.
How popular is E-sports?
E-sports is big, even gigantic in Asia. In 2018, 200 million people, including 50,000 supporters in a sold-out stadium, watch the final of the League of Legends World Cup in South Korea. In comparison, 103 million people watch the Super Bowl that same year.
E-sport events are also emerging in Europe and North America. Concert halls and football stadiums are being transformed into spectacular gaming arenas where professional e-athletes show their skills and fans meet. You also have the option to watch live on your smartphone or computer via online platforms such as , YouTube and Twitch. About 3,000 e-sports tournaments are held worldwide every year.
Which games are played?
The most popular e-sports games can be roughly divided into three different categories. Firstly, shooters are popular, where you have to take out other players with a weapon. A second category are strategy games, in which the players individually or in a team compete in a historical or fantasy world. Finally, sports games are the virtual version of, for example, football, basketball or American football.
Different skills are important for each game. Reaction and eye-hand coordination are important in shooters, for example, while insight and tactical orientation are crucial in strategy games. Every e-athlete is therefore often specialized in one game.
Is ‘e-athlete’ a full-time job?
E-athlete is a profession. Just like in ‘real’ sports, there are different teams with contract players in the e-sports world. Top players have been making a lot of money there for a number of years. Winning prize money at top tournaments can yield a bonus of several tons or millions, depending on your contract. For example, the winner of the Championship in 2018 will receive more than $ 11 million! However, a large portion of this prize money will go to the team. Players are well looked after: from private chef to masseur, everything is arranged for the e-athletes. Gaming every day and making money may sound like a utopia to some, but it is also hard work.