What the hell is Esports? E-sports, or more familiarly Esports, is a sport played on a computer or game console for competitive purposes. Esports is a sport like any other these days. If someone tells you that they are into Esports, they don’t mean just a recreational pastime every now and then, but competitive gaming for real.
This means striving for maximum performance both at the individual and team level by strictly training and developing one’s own skills, honing game tactics and technique together with the coach. Yes, you read that right. A player who enjoys esports may have their own sports coach, sports psychologist and/or nutritionist at their disposal, just like those who enjoy athletics.
Are the viewership numbers enough to support the sport?
It has been common knowledge that e-sports has received less attention in recent years in front of the general public. Of course, there is a clear reason for this, the technology is developing all the time, but the results of the development have not been presented to a larger world. It has been gratifying to notice that the Finnish startup community enthusiastically became the main partner for the eSports Sweden match. The aim of the cooperation is to introduce the gaming industry to a wider audience.
The gaming industry is the fastest growing industry internationally. Although you might not believe it, Finland has quietly crept into one of the most successful countries in game development. The main goal of the startup community is to create an opportunity for e-athletes to succeed and to enjoy e-sports among the number of viewers that have grown to hundreds of millions.
The history of esports is relatively long
If we start exploring the perfect beginning of e-sports, we can go back almost five decades. In 1972, the first Esports competition was organized at Stanford University, where 24 competitors fought to win the magazine subscription. Also in the 1980s and 1990s, tournaments accompanied by more and more impressive victories were organized and the popularity of e-sports grew to its own spheres in the world.
The arrival and development of the Internet brought new opportunities for playing games, developing games and following the industry globally, so the spread of the Internet and computers to every home around the world that began in the 21st century also made e-sports flourish.
In 2017, Esports had a global following of no less than 380 million followers, reaching a roughly estimated 200 million adults under the age of 35. As many as 160 sports clubs have already founded their own Esports team, which also includes Finnish sports clubs such as Helsinki IFK and Pori Ässät.
Is Esports even a sport?
The question seems to divide opinions quite a bit, and it seems like a pretty big risk to even write such a question on the headline level, but this too worries a large audience. The majority certainly think that it’s a fool’s errand to watch others play when you can do it yourself, but on the other hand, what is the other side of the coin? Would you really be able to play as well as an e-athlete? Would you have a pre-thought-out and perfected game tactic? So. The same applies to hockey, for example, why do you watch hockey when you could play it yourself?
E-sports is, for the most part, demanding meta work. Players have to perform demanding tasks, and if many different games can be played in a day, we are also at the limit of physical endurance. E-sports requires undemanding training and absolute comprehensive control of lifestyles. Balancing eating and hydration, taking breaks and regulating stressful situations demand a lot from the body. Esports is followed because we see the top e-sports players playing flawlessly at the extremes.
Esports game genres are as follows
- First-person shooters, or FPS games, which are shooters and shooters where the aim is to destroy opponents;
- Real-time strategy games, or RTS games, which usually show the game area from above. In these games, only game tactics are decisive;
- Battle arena games or MOBA games that resemble FPS games. In MOBA games, a team usually consists of five players, whose task is to completely destroy the opponent’s base with the help of their own hero character;
- Fighting games where players fight in the arena against each other in close combat. These matches are usually filmed from the sidelines;
- Battle Royale games that combine the mechanics of survival games and shooting games. The goal of the games is to eliminate other players and be the last one alive;
- Sports games that simulate traditional sports such as NHL and FIFA ;
- Exercise games, such as dance games, that require physical activity from the player either standing on the game platform or using technology based on motion detection;
- Driving games where the player controls a vehicle traveling on land, in the air, in water or in space;
- Digital trading card games;
- Virtual reality games, which are the latest newcomer to e-sports. These are fun because they are played in virtual reality with virtual reality glasses and virtual controllers.
E-sports tournaments have been more and more popular entertainment events in the gaming world every year. E-athletes sometimes fight for prize money of up to millions of euros, so followers are inevitably interested in who wins, in which game and with what tactics. E-sports is not children’s play and fun, but real competition on a mental level against others.
Is Esports for women or men?
E-sports is a new and developing sport, but it is really intended for both women and men, regardless of gender. Now that we are drawing up general rules for the sport, how the games will be played in tournaments in the future, it is worth thinking about which tip to take the whole palette forward. Are women and men separated or are teams allowed to form freely? If the genders are strongly differentiated from the beginning and played in different leagues, they will probably not be combined in the future.
The question arises whether there is a need for a separate series for women and men in e-sports tournaments. So far, only one tournament organizer, IeSF, organizes a separate series for women in their tournaments, the others operate in the name of equality, giving player teams a free hand to form their own team. IeSF justifies its activities by saying that it feels that supporting women’s games is important.
Esports sponsorship is attractive and addictive
Esports can be followed almost anywhere, in traditional media, online and in the industry’s own networks. Finns’ increased interest in e-sports in recent years has also made the media interested in the sport and bring it into their TV offerings, even as live broadcasts. Among other things, Yleisradio’s e-sports broadcasts on television have increased considerably. It can still be said that in terms of the media in Finland, we are still in the infancy of televising e-sports, because the huge potential of e-sports has not been taken into account or even taken into consideration.
Many international companies, such as the US-based Turner and ESPN, invest significantly in e-sports, and the British-based media giant BBC is developing the production of e-competitions. Many large sports organizations and professional sports leagues have also integrated e-sports tournaments into their own brands. The biggest sports clubs have also started sponsoring e-sports clubs and player teams of individual countries themselves.
Esports’ biggest sponsors are, for example, energy drink companies, computer manufacturers, phone manufacturers and food companies. Is it a wonder? E-athletes also need all of these in appropriate amounts in their gaming career. With the help of sponsorship money, players can be paid up to a monthly salary for playing. In 2020, it was estimated that the sponsorship and advertising investment costs used by companies would be close to 1.5 billion dollars, and it was not far from that estimate in reality. E-sports attracts and attracts various companies and organizations.
Esports making a breakthrough
As strange as it may sound to someone, Finland and Sweden are taking a big step forward in Esports and bringing a pilot event where the countries compete in e-sports to the club of national matches. If the pilot events are successful, Esports may be part of the Olympic Stadium’s program in 2024. Something that will certainly be emphasized in the field of betting as well, when traditional sports are also followed so much that many people put extra stress on them – before that bets had to be made before the events started, but today instant betting enables a lightning-fast login, and behind it lies the same technology that allows instant casinos to identify themselves with bank credentials (you can find more instant casinos and information at: https://pikakasinoja.com/ ).
The first pilot event will take place in September 2022, where five predefined games will be played online. After this, feedback is collected regarding the scoring and competition format, what worked and what didn’t work. When the necessary corrective measures have been taken after the feedback, the first trial international match between Finland and Sweden can be organized as planned in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.
We flopped in 2021 – now is a new opportunity
In the summer of 2021, a series of Esports tournaments (Olympic Virtual Series ) supported by the International Olympic Committee was tried, but the tournaments did not reach the audience as expected. Several games suitable for the Olympics, such as rowing and cycling, had been chosen for the tournaments. However, the chosen game choices confused the audience more than they invited them to, and the tournaments experienced full inflation both for the audience and for the participants.
The second tournament set, which was organized in 2021, was already, having learned from the previous one, aimed more at the Esports audience, where the prize pool approached the phantom limit of $250,000. So it wasn’t just any small tournament. The games chosen for the Intel World Open (IWO) were the auto rocket soccer game Rocket League and the fighting game Street Fighter V. Both tournaments flopped. The audience raved about the arrangements, game selections, production, group divisions and so on.
As we can conclude from this, it is extremely challenging to get Esports sports into the hearts of the viewers and meet expectations with one shot, but once you manage to do it, the end is just a fairy tale.
What do the players gain from this?
E-athletes who play as a profession get to participate in various leagues and tournaments, where the most common games played are Overwatch , Fortnite, League of Legends and Starcraft II. Today, the biggest competitions are also shown on streaming services, where the games can have tens of millions of followers. Most of the top players publish their game videos on YouTube as well, both as recordings and live videos.
Sponsors have also discovered e-sports and e-athletes, and even pay for all-inclusive competition trips, equipment and the use of a maintenance organization for the players they deem the best. Today, players are also paid huge bonuses of thousands of euros for playing. The cash prizes of the biggest tournaments in esports worldwide have reached tens of millions of euros, and in 2019 the total prize money of the competitions was calculated to be more than 200 million dollars.
What is fascinating about Esports?
Athletics has always been of interest, especially to Finnish viewers, and the love for the sport has also been reflected in the audience numbers and television viewing figures. Esports is not taking over the industry in any way, but rather bringing its own additional spice alongside athletics to, for example, the Olympic Games.
Entities involved in and sponsoring e-sports strongly believe that in this way knowledge of the sport can be presented to a larger audience in a respectful manner and the appreciation of the sport will grow exponentially. In e-sports, the excitement brought by gaming and the combo created by the strong physical strength and intelligence of the players are especially fascinating.
According to several different sources, the popularity of e-sports is on the rise both in terms of hobby and versatile event production. This also shows the huge commercial potential of the sport, which the Finnish startup community has also noticed.
Is there a place for Esports in the Olympics?
This also divides opinions, but some think that Pushing e-sports into an Olympic sport is pointless and harmful to the sport. Games related to athletics have never in the history of e-sports been popular games in front of a large audience. In practice, all the games that have interested people in the slightest have been ice hockey (mainly NHL) and football games (FIFA). Other video games have had fairly minimal popularity.
Then why is Esports wanted as part of the Olympics? Does that make sense? Maybe the public will find the sport when investment is made in the production, quality and style of the games ‒ which is popular around the world. It has been hinted that even Fortnite-style games could draw audiences better than sports games. This choice of games is of course up to the organizers, and it is clear that only virtual sports involving physical activity are hoped for at the Olympics. It remains to be seen whether the public will find e-sports.
The future shows the direction
Electronic sports is one of the fastest growing forms of sports globally and Finland is one of the best e-sports countries in the world. E-sports is by far the most practiced in Finland, although not much has been introduced to the general public yet. Gaming is especially among the hobbies of the younger generation, not only for console or desktop game players, but also among those who enjoy athletics. E-sports supports normal athletics by means of various interactive game formats and is part of normal coaching. Now it will finally be given its own award-winning sport alongside the others.
Investing in esports is not a waste of time
The importance of investing in e-sports has been noticed both in Finland and Sweden. SUL JA SEUL, i.e. the Finnish Sports Federation and the Finnish Electronic Sports Federation, have entered into a cooperation agreement, whereby the following national e-sports matches between Finland and Sweden will be held alongside the national athletics matches.
If and when e-sports can be included as part of the 2024 Olympic Games , more target groups will be reached with the sport and people will be introduced to the sport as its own form of sport and shown how to follow the sport. Who knows where Esports will go from here. The sport is evolving rapidly as it reaches a larger and larger audience and the number of games and genres change. It is also assumed that the number of viewers and the prize pools of the tournaments will grow and that a whole culture of its own will form around the tournaments.
It remains to be seen how the popularity of Esports will explode in the future and what role models will emerge from it for the next generations.