The impact of eSports on traditional sports in 2023: From the pitch to the screen

by MaddOx
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Sports hold a crucial significance in our civilisation. Regardless of whether it’s football or basketball, these activities have acted as a conduit for individuals to consolidate and bask in collective fervour. However, in this era of digitalisation, a novel and thrilling component has infiltrated the sports domain eSports. In the recent past, the sector has gathered pace, making it imperative to recognise its impact on traditional sports.

What is esports?

Esports encompasses antagonistic video gaming, wherein contestants engage in direct confrontations in multiplayer contests. League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive rank amongst the most esteemed engagements in the competitive gaming sphere. 

The growth of the sector has precipitated the creation of contests, endorsement contracts, and leagues. In 2019, the valuation of the competitive gaming sector transcended $1 billion, and it is projected to eclipse $3 billion by 2025. This growth has attracted sports betting platforms to offer eSports betting odds. If you wager in eSports consider the coral offer for new members to boost your wagering experience. 

Esports setup

Impact of eSports on traditional sports

Viewership and fan engagement

The escalation of eSports has significantly impacted conventional sports. This shift has changed the way individuals interact with sports activities. A substantial fraction of the youth favours watching people play video games competitively over conventional athletic contests. This trend has culminated in a reduction in viewership for games like basketball and football.

For instance, in 2022, the League of Legends World Championship attracted 5.15 million concurrent spectators, making it one of the most viewed global occurrences. Moreover, a Newzoo study indicated that the global viewership reached 474 million in 2021 and is projected to ascend to 577 million by 2024. This transition has captivated the interest of conventional sports entities, prompting a multitude of them to allocate resources to the sector.

eSports Travel Summit Panel

Integration of traditional sports and eSports

Indeed, the collaboration between the two sectors has witnessed a marked upswing of late. Esteemed sports organisations and entities have recognised the potential inherent in the competitive gaming scene and consequently channelled investments into eSports brigades. 

Case in point, football behemoths Manchester City and Bayern Munich have enlisted their respective eSports contingents in huge online tournaments for games such as EA FIFA and Pro Evolution Soccer. Even players like Liverpool’s Diogo Jota are getting involved, setting up their own teams.

Moreover, the integration of this new digital format of competition within orthodox sports events is on the rise. The swell in online gaming has introduced a fresh dimension to the sports industry, fostering expanded reach and inclusivity. This amalgamation of eSports and conventional sports is metamorphosing the sector, laying the groundwork for groundbreaking opportunities for athletes, fans, and establishments.

Diogo Jota in a Luna Galaxy Esports jersey

Could eSports overtake traditional sports?

The rise of eSports in recent years has ignited a compelling debate about whether it could potentially overtake traditional sports in terms of popularity and cultural significance. While traditional sports have a long and storied history, eSports has been rapidly gaining ground, and several factors suggest that it could one day rival or even surpass its analogue counterparts.

One key advantage of eSports is its accessibility. Traditional sports often require significant physical prowess, equipment, and infrastructure, making them less accessible to a broader audience. In contrast, eSports primarily rely on technology, enabling anyone with a computer or gaming console to participate and enjoy competitive gaming. This inclusivity has led to a massive global fanbase, especially among younger generations who have grown up in the digital age.

Additionally, the digital nature of competitive gaming offers unique opportunities for fan engagement, with live streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube allowing fans to interact with their favourite players and teams in real time. It also caters to a global audience, transcending geographic and cultural barriers, making it a highly marketable and lucrative industry.

As the industry continues to evolve, attracting investment, sponsorship deals, and media coverage, it’s not inconceivable that it could eventually challenge traditional sports in terms of viewership and cultural relevance. However, while the growth of eSports is undeniable, it’s essential to recognise that both forms of competition can coexist and offer distinct experiences to their respective fanbases.

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