The gaming industry has spawned a new, non-traditional form of sport that is entirely digitally dependent.
Esports – where professional gamers compete on a global scale – although overshadowed by the gaming industry itself, is a growing industry and is now worth over $1 billion.
Digital Nation Australia spoke to Graeme Du Toit, head of sales and marketing for ESL, the largest independent esports league, who said the industry is expected to grow to around $4 billion by 2030.
The skill level required for an esports professional could be likened to any professional athlete, where tens of thousands of hours of practice are required. But according to Du Toit, for esports players who aren’t subject to the physical imposition of traditional sports, they often have more training hours under their belt than traditional athletes.
“The main difference between esports and traditional sports is that traditional sports the body has to worry about. You can only play and run and get tackled so much, or play until you get injured,” did he declare.
“Esports, yes, there are things like carpal tunnel, wrists, shoulders and all, but you can spend 15 hours a day playing games if you really want to. It’s not wise, but you can, unlike traditional sports, where you can’t.
We’re now starting to see a convergence between traditional sports and esports as professional sports teams and bodies invest in esports teams, in an effort to stay relevant to younger generations, Du Toit said.
“Traditional sports have attempted to engage with esports in different ways. But usually it’s because the average esports fan is young, probably a male in his teens to probably, 18 to 30, that’s the main audience. And it gets younger as the kids get older and that’s the audience they want,” he said.
“It’s an audience that, in order to survive, the sport must capture.”
Some examples of esports teams investing in esports include Tennis Australia hosting major Fortnight tournaments in their Melbourne arenas, NBA team Golden State Warriors creating their own esports team Golden Guardians, and the Cleveland Cavaliers investing in eSports. League of Legends e-sports team 100 thieves.