The esports industry is not a new thing and is generally understood by modern gamers. However, recognisability and wide acceptance by the community were not always inherent to esports and its camping: at the dawn of its emergence in the 2000s, computer sports was a niche entertainment for a narrow circle of enthusiasts.
For a long time, esports continued to be something between a hobby for a narrow number of players and a serious industry, but over time it has grown into the basic components of a major player in the entertainment and competition market.
In 2023, esports is a multi-billion dollar industry that continues to grow. Competitive gaming continues to expand its influence, capturing the attention of more and more players. It manages to do so thanks to a large number of competitive titles of different genres, and a huge number of championships of different levels.
Another important aspect of esports, without which it would be difficult for it to stand on its feet is the betting and gambling industry. It has served as a kind of Long Corner, allowing organizers to raise money for prizes and clubs to pay the salaries of players and technical staff.
From tournaments organized by bookmakers to the signing of top ambassadors, from CSGO predictions to betting tips on Super Mario Bros – it’s all part of esports and you can’t get anywhere without it.
The influence of bookmakers on esports prompted us to think about the development of esports as a whole.
We decided to remember how esports evolved and how it lives today: how the ecosystem of competitive games is organized, how professional teams work and how professionals are ѕtupоnеd, and what, apart from the influence of bookmakers, the economy of esports consists of.
The Evolution of E-Sports
We have already indirectly mentioned the path of eѕports from a niche industry to a billion-dollar market and now let’s talk about the evolution of eѕports in more detail.
It is hard to say exactly when esports as a concept originated because people have always competed: from the first Olympics to the game of chess. With the advent of arcade machines and later PCs, video games were added to the list of spaces for battles.
One of the very first video game tournaments was a competition between Stanford University students to play Spacewar! Back in 1972, dozens of students fought for a one-year subscription to Rolling Stones magazine. However, computer sports took on a more familiar shape with the appearance of the game Quake.
Quake became a real progenitor of the esports industry. It, on a level with Doom 2, allowed players to connect to game sessions via LAN or The International internet, which was a kind of revolution.
Now for online battles, it was enough to connect to the World Wide Web, which in the early 2000s was still a problem for a huge number of players, especially in underdeveloped countries, but with the development of technology, the issue of The International Internet connection has moved to the background.
The emergence of games with the ability to battle each other online created the basis for the birth of esports, but it was the emergence of organized PC gaming competitions that gave the industry a boost.
As the video game market developed, organizations like The Cyberathlete Professional League appeared, under whose auspices tournaments were held in Quake, and later in StarCraft, Warcraft, and other disciplines.
The first championships kept the entourage of “basement” meetings, but the appearance of the World Cyber Games (WCG) changed the rules of the game. WCG became a kind of Olympics, but with keyboards and mice, as well as a prize fund in the region of 600,000 dollars, and was held in the most popular disciplines.
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Diverse Gaming Ecosystem
In 2023, esports is a broad industry with several major players in the market forming an entire gaming ecosystem. Among the pillars of esports are the “big four”: CSGO, Dota 2, LoL, and Valorant.
Dota 2 set the pace for the development of the eSports scene in 2011, and LoL and CSGO picked up the trend. VALORANT, created by the already experienced Riot Games, joined the trio much later.
These disciplines account for the lion’s share of prize money played in esports. They are the trendsetters of competitive gaming in general. The same Dota 2 is a monumental discipline in terms of prizes, League of Legends is an example of working with the audience and deep The International integration of esports into the entertainment industry.
CSGO is a timeless discipline that began its life at the dawn of esports in the noughties, and VALORANT is an example of a product that captures the minds of millennials and Generation Z.
The games share common features, such as a developed and diversified professional scene, clear differences in in-game mechanics, and minimal differences in genres. This difference is embedded in the very nature of esports as a separate industry and it’s a good thing because it helps competitive games to unite people of different categories and preferences.
In addition to the big four of CSGO, Dota 2, LoL, and VALORANT, there are dozens of other disciplines that are part of the vast esports ecosystem. These include Overwatch, PUBG, Super Mario Bros, Tekken, CoD, and other less industry-forming but no less important players in the market.
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The Path to Professionalism
Speaking about the esports ecosystem, one cannot leave aside the issue of professionalism in esports, which is hotly debated in society. The notion of professionalism in eѕроrtѕе is controversial because there is no standardized scheme of ѕtupоrting pros.
Cybersport is not taught, and there are no grades like in big sports. However, the obvious marker remains on the surface: professionals are paid for their game.
In the “infancy” of esports, professionals received cash rewards from prize money at tournaments, but over time, players began to have contracts, salaries, and other attributes previously inherent only in “big sport”.
As the industry developed, so did the club infrastructure. Now players prepare for championships not at home or in garages, as it was done by the pioneers of the industry, but at full-fledged boot camps, with daily routines, constant training, and regime. All these processes, as well as tournaments, form the economics of esports.
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Economics of E-Sports
Above we mentioned the influence of bookmakers on the economy of e-sports, but this is not the only “pillar” of the industry. The lion’s share of the economy is made up by the tournaments themselves, as well as by sponsors, among which more and more famous names with the development of esports.
The International 2011 Dota 2 tournament played an important role in the development of esports as a serious industry. Then VALVE held a championship for 1,600,000 dollars, which had never happened before 2011 in esports. However, this caused problems with motivation to play at something other than TI, but that’s a separate topic.
As time went on, there were more big tournaments and as a consequence, many big-name sponsors and companies came to esports. There’s Intel, with the Intel Extreme Masters series, there’s Red Bull, there’s car brands like BMW and Mercedes. And then there’s Spotify, Tiffany & Co., and other big-name brands.
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Despite the long and, in some places, difficult journey of the e-sports industry since the early 2000s, the e-sports industry has many challenges ahead of it. The industry will continue to evolve, introduce new technologies, and blur the boundaries in communication between different, but equally passionate, people.