The NA LCS is the main tournament bracket for the video game League of Legends hosted in North America. The tournament season airs approximately over a span of 200 hours per season on their Twitch.Tv channel, official sources have declared that the broadcast hosted by the developer of the game themselves, League of Legends, Riot Games™ received as much as 42 million views throughout the season. The overall peak was measured at 455 thousand simultaneous viewers. Meanwhile, these numbers are inside the medium of Riot Games own infrastructure we saw even more bizarre figures when the 2016 World Championships were going down with 16 teams from all over the world. More than 28 million consecutive viewers tuned in to see the grand final between the dynasty powerhouse SK Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy, Both teams with South Korea as the respective resident country.
These numbers are growing and becoming comparable to real sports events. There have been statements that these numbers exceed some traditional and established sporting events in viewership. There have been arguments that big esports tournaments trumped the NBA finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors in viewership numbers. However, these numbers are slightly skewed. Esports does not have any geographical limitations that traditional sports as we know they do. Esports has since its infancy been accessible all over the world with minimal effort to gate viewers out with pay-per-view access, compared to significant television broadcast networks.
Above we see a statistical graph from statista.com. The chart shows an exponential growth from a survey made between 2012 and 2016. Broken down into the two different categories of viewers, the avid enthusiast, and the occasional viewers. According to the graph, we may see the ever-increasing viewership in esports worldwide reach almost 600 million viewers. These numbers by their own are a convincing factor. The AEVI, the Spanish Association of video games also estimates that the global economic impact of the industry will exceed $1 billion by the same year. With these numbers on the horizon, there is little surprise that a lot of major organizations around the globe that starts to show interest in the future of esports.
The Madison Square Garden Company, investment owners of the NY Rangers and the Knicks are behind the esport organization Counter Logic Gaming, also known as CLG. Joe Lacob, owner of the 3rd most valued NBA team The Golden State Warriors, are bringing the franchise into the NA LCS under the Golden Guardians organization. T-Mobile and Gilette are a couple of significant sponsors standing behind the fortress organization of Team Solo Mid with the status of the only team with one single owner, in this case, founder and ex-player Andy Dihn retains sole ownership of the TSM organization.
I am not afraid to state that there are significant possibilities in the esports scene and that there are people with organizations behind their backs, willing to pay the bucks. These people are actively looking into the cracks of the fundamental pillars of esports.
League of Legends is the most massive video game in the world with over 100 million players. However, other games attract viewers and investors as well. The NBA has launched an esports league of their own playing the NBA 2K game. Major league Soccer has also revealed a similar plan to run a tournament for FIFA18 and racing games are also putting their name on the list of esport genres with the Formula 1 and NASCAR titles.
Recently we have noted a job offering stationed in the New York that was posted by the NFL. The National Football League are looking for a Head of Gaming and eSports that will work close to their crucial gaming partners. The NFL are no strangers to the scene of esports. News for many, however In 2017 the NFL hosted a Madden17 tournament where Michael Skimbo became the ultimate winner and received 100,000$ for his accomplishments. If Football and the Madden titles are more your cup of Starbucks coffee instead of fantasy MOBA’s, you are getting your league in its full glory. The NFL Madden18 together with EA Games, Disney and ESPN are making competitive players around the United States dreams come true. These games can be viewed on TV through ESPN and on the DisneyXD TV channel. Being able to watch your favorite game on television is a big step towards standardizing the role that esports has to play in the future.
With the Improvements and the expansion that they are acting on, it is making me intrigued. I am confident we will see a whole lot more of these more traditional sports titles move into esports shortly.
In recent years the Spanish La Liga, the organizing body behind the two top soccer leagues in Spain has published that they are moving into esports as a part of their latest campaign.
’’It is not football, it’s La Liga.’’
To promote and grow the La Liga brand to reach another part of the audience of the world La Liga is launching a sister group, called “La Liga esports.” The group that has shown a firm commitment to technological innovation which their experience with EA Games have given them throughout the years and their partnership. Surely they are aware what they are getting into. It is still uncertain what exactly La Liga Esports will include. Plans are to roll out several ambitious projects that aim to bring together the passion for football and the world of esports.
Where there is money, there will be interest shown. These companies and organization are aware of this and given the fact that these big names are profit-driven companies, they would want to get in on the green lawn we have sowed and nurtured for ourselves. I believe that the esports audience will thrive in a more modern and accepted state. What we are seeing and envisioning moving forward from today, is a slowly merging symbiosis that’s of the entertainment and sports industry. The concept of esports and video games is now on the accepted shelf, and the realization is remarkable. The genre can sustain entirely on its own and also do so with insignificant help from the organization that’s already not invested until now.
I am so grateful that I am allowed to live at this time of our universe. A time where I can see esports become an established source of entertainment and income for our players and actors. I wish that the genuine force of will and the never-ending interest will keep us moving forward.
Patrik J. Svahnström
Abbreviations and explanation:
Twitch.Tv – Is an online broadcasting platform for viewers and entertainers.
NA LCS – Is the medium where teams compete in playing the video game League of Legends, also known as LOL.
Riot Games – The developing company behind the video game League of Legends.
Professional Gaming Teams mentioned:
SK Telecom T1, South Korea
Samsung Galaxy, South Korea
Counter Logic Gaming, North America
Team Solo Mid, North America
The Golden guardians, North America