Esports AFTER Covid(?)

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

Last year, we wrote about the sudden surge of esports (here). It seemed that the pandemic gave esports the room to grow that it needed and deserved. With all the other sport events being cancelled, esports took the centre stage. Betting operators dived on top teams with sponsor contracts and started promoting tournaments like never before. Almost one year later, it is time to evaluate if esports finally made their big breakthrough or that the hype of last year was premature.

underestimating esports

With all attention going to esports, many people and companies were under the impression that gaming required nothing more than a computer and a player behind it. Doing so, the complexity and professionalism of esports was underestimated. The elite gamers need physical events, preferably at an international level. The World Cups without a stage could be organised, but lost all of their appeal. 

This means that many of the large esports tournaments still got canceled. Between March and October of 2020, we witnessed not a single major event until League of Legends Worlds finally broke the ban. Furthermore, events like Blizzcon also have been postponed. 

Having taken this into consideration, 2020 was still a major year for esports where it saw a significant growth in interest from the audience and betting operators.  There hasn’t been a single year where esports was so exposed as 2020.

The return of physical sports

Question is whether esports can keep their momentum now that it seems that physical sports are about to make their return in the summer of 2021. Meanwhile, the novelty of gaming wears off as there are many regional teams playing each other due to the lack of larger events. Things are getting repetitive and predictable. Take for instance Team Secret that won all 8 matches of Dota with 3:0, taking home the tournament. A great achievement, but quite boring for a spectator.

What is also looking to be problematic is the future of smaller games. We are confident that the likes of CS:GO and LoL will survive the crisis and come out even stronger, but will the games with a small audience also survive another 6 months with no physical events to stream? In conclusion: yes, there has been a growth, but it is not evenly distributed among the industry and things aren’t as bright for esports as many made them appear to be 12 months ago.