We recently published an article about gaming platforms and their overall significance in boosting crypto. By incorporating blockchain technology into these games’ systems, these innovating gaming companies help increase the widespread attention of crypto, pushing it closer to potential global adoption.
However, that article covered just one branch of gaming. There is another equally popular form of gaming that goes by the name of ‘eSports’. While not exactly the same as the previously discussed gaming platforms, it still holds enough clout to affect cryptocurrency in the long run.
With a global audience that is as tech-savvy as they are passionate, eSports shares some notable similarities with cryptocurrency. Unsurprisingly, there are predictions concerning the unity of these two industries, drawing from their similarities and hope for the future.
What are Esports?
Esports represent the world of competitive video gaming, and it is rapidly growing. This international phenomenon draws millions of fans from all over the world. The efforts of streaming services and live events alike have transformed casual gamers into celebrities of sorts. They are now capable of raking in a ton of cash, all while securing substantial brand endorsements.
These gaming industries are on their way to reaching tremendous new heights in the years ahead; not unlike cryptocurrency. Crypto developers notice this and are already starting to work towards marrying the two fields.
Before we can get into how these two worlds can potentially intersect, we must first clarify what exactly eSports is.
The competitive world of gaming
As previously mentioned, eSports is another form of gaming; one whose popularity continues to grow. What makes it distinct is that it combines competitive sports with video games. Instead of watching players engage in a game of soccer, you are watching them play a video game. It usually takes the form of multiplayer video game competitions, particularly between professional players. The participants can play the games either individually or as teams.
Competitors from multiple leagues or teams go up against each other in games that are favorites with at-home gamers. Such titles include “Fortnite,” “League of Legends,” “Call of Duty,” ”Overwatch,” and “Madden NFL,” among many others. Millions of fans from all over the globe watch and follow these gamers. Some will attend live events while others catch the action on TV or online. In terms of streaming services, platforms like Twitch let viewers watch as their favorite gamers play in real-time. This, above all else, is where popular gamers manage to build up their individual fandoms.
When looking at the history of this form of gaming, online and offline competitions are not anything new. They have been part of video game culture for a long time. However, the players of these types of games were predominantly amateurs. This would remain until around the late 2000s when participation by professional gamers and spectatorship became common. From here, these events would be broadcast via live streaming, prompting a massive surge in popularity.
By the 2010s, eSports was suddenly a notable factor in the video game industry. Along with this came the rise of game developers actively designing toward a professional eSports subculture.
How popular is it? Who watches it?
One would think that the number of people who watch eSports, while large, cannot exceed competitive sports viewership. In a way, they are correct, but that does not detract from the fact that eSport viewership is actually sizable. A lot of people watch these competitions and that number grows every year.
According to a report from the market analytics company, Newzoo, roughly 380 million people worldwide were projected to watch eSports in 2018. These include over 165 million eSports enthusiasts; in other words, frequent viewers rather than occasional viewers. A majority of these devotees watch the games from North America, South Korea, and China.
Tournaments and other similar events have the capability of bringing in viewing crowds that could rival most professional sports outings. In fact, the viewership of the 2017 League of Legends World Championship surpassed 80 million viewers. With these numbers, it’s no surprise that it became one of the most popular eSports competitions ever. In July of last year, ESPN and Disney XD were securing a multi-year deal pertaining to the broadcast of the Overwatch League. This is a new international league with 12 franchises that focus on the famous multiplayer first-person shooter game, “Overwatch.”
In 2019, there was an estimation concerning the total audience of eSports, claiming it would grow to 454 million viewers. Moreover, revenues would go on to increase and exceed $1 billion in US dollars. The rising availability of online streaming media platforms, notably YouTube and Twitch, is crucial for the growth of eSports events. Not to mention it plays a vital role in the competitions’ promotion as well.
Research by Newzoo shows that there were 588 major eSports events in 2017 alone.
Who are the players?
There’s something difficult for enthusiasts of traditional sports leagues, like the NFL, to believe when it comes to competitive gaming. That being eSports, when at its highest levels, function in a remarkably similar fashion.
As a matter of fact, in April of last year, the NBA held a draft for the release of its new eSports league. This league would focus largely on the basketball-oriented NBA 2K game franchise. It was during the draft that there was a selection of 102 professional eSports players. The fanfare in response to this selection was akin to that of players arriving to the court.
Colleges are beginning to get in on this competitive gaming action. There are over 50 colleges that have varsity eSports programs. These programs are receiving recognition by a governing body known as the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE). NACE championships dispense thousands of dollars in prize money, all of which goes towards scholarships reserved for the winners.
So, in addition to the fun of it, players have a genuine incentive to participate in these competitions. The benefits they could receive should they win are too appealing to pass up.
Since the NBA has shifted to a much taller stance, the shortest NBA player Muggsy Bogues has been rumored to be endorsing eSports gaming for the NBA 2K series.
The legitimacy of competitive gaming
While the enthusiasm for this type of gaming continues to grow, there are some who have different views. Specifically, there are many who question the overall validity of this type of competition in relation to sports. Is it really a sports competition? Indeed, it shares similarities, but do its distinct qualities take away from those correlations?
Providing a concrete answer for that is tricky. The only way to placate the concern is to direct attention to the likeness between the two types.
A bulk of the gaming competitions use a series of promotion and relegation play with sponsored teams. Such teams include the League of Legends World Championship. However, recent competitions are displaying a structure that is very similar to American professional sports. This means it has salaried players, as well as both regular season and playoff series. A prime example of this is the Overwatch League.
The legitimacy of eSports as a bona fide sports competition still remains in question. Be that as it may, eSports would go on to be featured alongside traditional sports in numerous multinational events
Furthermore, there are talks of the Olympics incorporating eSports into their events. Last month, Intel made an announcement that it will host an eSports tournament in Tokyo. This is significant because this would be during the lead-up to the 2020 Olympics. Players will compete in games like “Street Fighter V” and “Rocket League” for a price of $250,000 for each game. Online qualifiers will commence early next year and this live qualifier event will take place in Poland in June.
Crypto: a logical union?
There is no denying that eSports is a lucrative market. With a 33% compound annual growth rate, it makes sense for cryptocurrency developers to take an interest in a potential merger.
There has been an influx of investment that fuels the projected wave of cryptocurrencies concentrating on eSports and blockchain gaming. Dreamteam, an eSports team-building platform, recently closed a $5 million seed round with Mangrove Capital Partners. Moreover, it has successfully set partnerships in place with major industry players. These include the finalists of last year’s League of Legends competition.
On top of eSports, the gaming industry at large is gradually associating closely with those that run the crypto economy. Back in March, Ripple made the revelation that they were backing a new $100 million fund committed to blockchain games. Forte, the San Francisco-based startup, was responsible for signing the deal with Ripple. Brett Seyler, the chief platform officer of Forte, states:
“Gaming is a $140 billion global industry driven predominantly by digital microtransaction economies, which we believe will benefit immensely from the integrity and resilience of blockchain technology.”
In terms of eSports, the similarities between gamers and cryptocurrency users are abundant.
Effective monetization is highly critical to the maintenance of video content creators. A good portion of them don’t exhibit the same numbers as the top eSports professionals and Youtubers. As is the case with most celebrities and trends, the actions of someone popular will influence the others. When one famous YouTuber joins the live streaming platform, Dlive, which accepts various cryptocurrencies for purchasing its native tokens, it has a noticeable effect. The actions of that individual spawn a wide variety of smaller creators to follow suit.
eSports is on the cusp of fully implementing blockchain technology. In recent years, we are beginning to see dozens of attempts to profit from the expansion of eSports with blockchain. One of the areas that this initiative tends to focus on is betting. With platforms like Twitch, there is substantial accessibility for users. This accessibility allows the eSports community to grow and develop. This, in turn, leads to subsequent growth in the eSports betting scene.
As the eSports market and its audience escalate, it’s no wonder that the amount of companies benefiting from the growth is staggering. In just a matter of years, there is now a fusion of companies that are active in the eSports betting market. Companies like Pinnacle, BET365, Betway, and Ladbrokes are representative of the traditional sportsbooks that have made their way into eSports. Other companies such as Unikrn, GGbet, Skrilla, Firstblood, and Ultraplay are indicative of the eSports-only sportsbooks.
eSports enthusiasts have collectively wagered over $650 million on three primary categories. These divisions are eSports match betting, fantasy esports, and head-to-head wagering. Each website fixates on either one or two of these categories.
1 – eSports Match Betting
eSports match betting is arguably the most significant category. Moreover, it is the one that has the involvement of traditional sportsbooks. Above all other forms of betting, this is the one that almost everybody has heard of and has knowledge of. How it works is the player bets on the outcome of something like a football or tennis match. The process is win-lose, and in certain cases, draw.
In the realm of eSports, this is an area that has an amalgamation of two distinct things. One is traditional sportsbooks and the other is the recently founded companies that are leveraging blockchain. Such companies include the likes of Unikrn and Herosphere. The main difference between these two heavily contrasting groups is the usage of the blockchain.
2 – Fantasy eSports
Fantasy betting is quite different from traditional betting in that you do not directly bet on an event’s outcome. In lieu of this, you draft a ‘fantasy’ team that consists of players that you predict will acquire the most points in regular matches. The core purpose of this type of betting not about selecting the best players. This is due to you possessing a specific budget, and also some players have a higher price than others.
To find the best example of eSports fantasy betting, look no further than Skrilla. This blockchain initiative has a platform that gives eSports fans a whole new experience in viewing and engaging with matches. People are able to compete against other fans for prize money by way of social competition.
You can draw a parallel between this and fantasy football. In that particular case, players need to pay an entry fee if they want to participate in daily tournaments. These are tournaments that have their main focus on the biggest competitions in the eSports industry. Next, participants must pick their fantasy team from an array of professional players in that tournament. Drawing from a professional player’s most recent performances, each player has their own specific price.
In the end, it is all about selecting the right players in order to maximize the points you earn.
3 – Head-to-head Wagering
Contrary to what many might believe, betting does not solely center on professional gamers. In fact, a lot of people play on a comparatively more amateur level, but they wish to compete for money. This is regardless if they are playing a 1v1/team vs. team duel or by participating in a tournament. Whatever the case may be, their ultimate goal is to prove that they are the better player or team.
EloPlay took note of this and decided to hop on the trend. This is an eSports platform that allows players to organize and participate in tournaments with decentralized prize pools. Their initial intent as a platform was strictly for one-on-one eSports tournaments. Since then, they made the decision to shift their focus to constructing a platform. One that supports team-vs-team tournaments.
In the past couple of years, the site would welcome up to 90,000 registered users. In addition, they would see over 80,000 battles reaching completion.
Today, there exists an array of upstart crypto projects that are concentrating heavily on gaming. These include the following:
- WAX: This is among the most exciting cryptocurrency gaming projects on the scene today. WAX will put its focus on providing a decentralized trading platform specifically for digital, video game assets. To better explain this, a good example would be weapons and/or clothing skins in a first-person shooter.
- Unikoin Gold: The Unikoin project aspires to be a decentralized sportsbook for eSports. Obviously, there is a ton of room for development that could potentially span over the next several years. The combination of betting, gaming, and blockchain technology is capable of becoming an incredibly popular combination. Unikrn Gold is a platform that is aiming to be the token that will make that mix a reality.
- DreamTeam: This is a cryptocurrency project fixating on the ability to create the titular eSports dream teams. In other words, DreamTeam aspires to be a network for gaming recruitment and management. This has the potential to be a gigantic project since first-class gamers are gradually becoming powerful athletes in a way.
- First Blood: This is a gaming cryptocurrency that unites rewards with eSports. By using the eSports platform, players have the ability to receive payment in 1ST tokens for conquering opponents in matches. That recognizable, not to mention popular, dynamic may be enough to drive a ton of interest toward First Blood. What do people love more than gaming? Getting paid. With this in mind, First Blood will combine the two on an Ethereum platform that will decentralize gaming.
eSport is an industry that is made up almost entirely of young, tech-savvy individuals. When it comes to new technologies, gamers and the eSports community alike are quick to embrace them. With this in mind, it is not foolish to believe that eSports could eventually incorporate blockchain into daily usage. The same can be said for its marriage with cryptocurrency. Combining these forces could lead to incredible innovations.