eSports By The Numbers In 2018 (and Beyond)
Competitive gaming — eSports — has been around for ages but has never before seen the growth and popularity it sees today. What started out as local LAN parties evolved into large-scale internet play, ultimately becoming a mind sport and an activity that can make the best players rich (the highest-paid eSports “athlete” so far is DotA 2 player KuroKy, born Kuro Takhasomi, with more than $4 million in winnings to date) and one that you can place bets on at Betway Thailand and other bookmakers online.
eSports as we know it was born in South Korea in the late 1990s / early 2000s, becoming the first truly 21st-century sport. Since then, eSports have grown exponentially, becoming a popular and seriously funded activity. There are many titles with eSports potential — pretty much every major game developer hopes to break into this world. Here are the ones that were the most played in 2018.
It is hard to grasp how many fans a sport has — unless it’s an eSport, of course, which is predominantly followed through various streaming services online (that provide clear numbers of how many people follow an event by the minute). The following of eSports, according to the statistics, has soared in the last few years: from around 280 million in 2016 to almost 370 million in 2018, with the number of followers expected to exceed 500 million by 2021, with almost half of them being dedicated fans.
eSports continue their ascension as a mainstream entertainment phenomenon started several years ago.
According to gaming intelligence specialist Newzoo, every eSports follower has generated a little under $5.5 in revenues for the industry last year. Given the large number of followers, these small amounts have added up to a total of more than $900 million in revenues in 2018. Out of this total, almost $700 million came from brand investments – sponsorships, advertising, and media rights – with the rest being generated from ticket sales, merchandise, and the revenues of game publishers. The revenue generated by eSports is expected to almost double by 2021, exceeding $1.6 billion (with the majority of the money coming from brand investments).
The popularity of an eSports game is measured in the hours Twitch users spend watching them. By this metric, LEAGUE OF LEGENDS is the most popular game, with more than 274 million hours, followed by COUNTER-STRIKE: GLOBAL OFFENSIVE (around 233 million), DotA 2 (around 218 million), HEARTHSTONE (around 77 million) and OVERWATCH (about 25 million). These numbers are for 2017 — they haven’t been published yet for 2018.
The top 25 most followed eSports games have gathered almost 960 million hours of watch time on Twitch. This number is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.