The Esports industry has grown at an incredible rate over the past few years.
When compared to 2013, the number of searches for the term “esports” has jumped over 500% according to an analysis by Google Trends.
What was a growing phenomenon that then got catapulted into mainstream awareness following the unprecedented events of the early 2020s that saw a wave of cancellations of conventional sporting events?
Fortunately for the competitive gaming scene, it was perfectly positioned to jump into the vacuum left by this disruption and satisfy sports fans’ desire for high-stakes competition.
Now we find ourselves in a situation where major sporting bodies are having to adjust their relationship with esports, lest they risk being the last to jump on the bandwagon.
Below we’re looking at two quite distinct sports that each has led the way in embracing the esports boom in sometimes novel and surprising ways.
Football is integrating itself with the esports scene in ways that mark it out as a leader among conventional sports.
For one, the FIFAe World Cup, which is entering its 16th year in 2022, is one of the longest-running major esports tournaments in the world.
As esports has entered the spotlight in recent years, major clubs from across the globe are increasingly seeking to affiliate themselves with high-profile esports athletes competing under their digital equivalents.
This has led to the rise of many official FIFAe World Cup wings to major clubs, with the likes of AC Milan and Manchester City platforming sanctioned squads to go toe-to-toe with eSports football heavyweights like Tundra and Fnatic.
This growing collaboration has facilitated many clubs taking a step beyond football and putting their names, and badges, to esports teams and athletes competing in the biggest games in the community, such as DOTA 2. Among those leading this charge are FC Copenhagen, PSG, and German club Schalke 04.
The latter, newly promoted to the Bundesliga in 2021, have been pioneering in their embrace of esports, having competed in diverse games ranging from Fortnite to League of Legends since 2016.
Poker has undergone a significant transformation from its classical format. Starting with the so-called poker boom of the early 00s, online poker has grown rapidly to become the dominant means by which the game is played today. The result is that today, there’s a huge range of reputable platforms offering users the chance to play free online poker, no matter where they are from.
And then, just when it looked as if poker was done transforming, it began the slow process of morphing into an Esport.
Many argue this is the natural outcome of poker becoming an increasingly online and digital activity.
With the rise of Twitch, more streamers began broadcasting poker games, with leading esports athletes dedicating time and energy to the classic card game.
Following this, industry mainstays PokerStars teamed up with the Team Liquid poker team, and the Dublin-based company has since been running tournaments on the Amazon-owned platform for several years.
Nowadays, few would argue that poker isn’t at least a strongly adjacent concern to the wider esports scene, if not the newest and fastest growing addition to its roster.