Competitive gaming has once again been thrust in to the spotlight this week as a group of young gamers won the biggest prize fund in e-Sports history at The International Dota 2 Championships.
Images of the victorious Evil Geniuses team lifting their trophy in a packed-out stadium have made it rather difficult to ignore the current hype around e-Sports. A quick glance at the stats from the event will tell you everything you need to know about how popular and lucrative competitive gaming has become.
The prize pool totalled $18m, $6.6m of which was taken home by the winning team. That’s an incredible amount of money when you consider that this year’s Masters golf tournament only has a $10m prize pool. In total, 16 teams made it through to the 6-day event held at the Key Arena in Seattle. They were watched by close to 17,000 spectators as well as hundreds of thousands more tuning in via Twitch and YouTube.
This type of event isn’t a one-off in the world of e-Sports – every year more and more take place with the prize money and crowds only getting bigger. Needless to say e-Sports have become a pretty big deal in a very short space of time.
The driving force behind its success is undeniably the desire of the gaming community. Governing bodies and gamers alike have gone to great lengths to push e-Sports in to the mainstream and gain recognition as a legitimate sport.
Crowd funding by gamers has provided the sport with huge financial clout. Take the previously mentioned $18m prize fund for example – $16.4m of that was raised by those who play the game. Aside from this, the efforts of e-Sports governing bodies have also resulted in wins such as the US Government recognising e-Sports players as professional athletes and a working partnership with the IAAF.
The growing success of competitive gaming is then unsurprising. Video games are an established multi-billion dollar industry and it’s estimated that 700 million people worldwide play online multiplayer games – that’s more than double the population of the United States. Add the competitive element in to the mix and you’ve got the same drama, rivalry and prestige seen in any other sport. The only major difference is an emphasis on mental capabilities rather than physical ones, and that’s a battle which e-Sports will be fighting for years to come.
There is no sign that competitive gaming is a passing fad and after high-profile event such as The International Dota 2 Championships, e-Sports finds itself in a very enviable position. Broadcasters, corporate sponsors and tech companies are all queuing up for a piece of the action. There’s no doubt that competitive gaming will quickly establish itself as a fixture of the mainstream.
Next stop, the Olympics…?