How Has Esports Been Affected By The Pandemic?

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2020 was a year to forget for the sporting world. The lockdown regulations, travelling restrictions and other stringent new rules affected virtually every sport. For esports, which is still in its formative stages in the grand scheme of things, the restrictions affected physical tournaments though some online events still continued smoothly.

So influential is esports that top bookmakers include esports events in their markets. You can find out which online betting sites rank top for esports.

That esports market has enjoyed phenomenal growth over the last decade. Global revenues in 2020 topped $950.3 million with an audience of over 450 million people. There’s a positive outlook for the industry with projected growth to $1.185bn by 2024..

For an industry that just started to grow, the disruptions brought by the shutdowns in most countries had a big impact on revenues, fan numbers and sports activities. This post looks at some ways the esports sector was affected by the devastation of 2020.

Postponement/Cancellation

While esports is renowned for its use of broadcast and digital technology by allowing people to follow tournaments and matches online, there are of course physical events too. Esports events are now big business and cities encourage them to bring gamers and fans together.

With the lockdown guidelines instituted across the globe, it was no longer tenable for gamers and fans to meet for events and there were numerous postponements and eventual cancellations across the globe. Here are some esports and gaming events affected by the crisis:

  • East Coast Throwdown 2020
  • Summer Game Fest
  • Tokyo Game Show 2020
  • Ubisoft Forward
  • ESL One Birmingham
  • Bandai Namco world tour events
  • Fortnite World Cup 2020
  • Dota 2 The International 2020
  • PUBG 2020 Global Series
  • Gamescom 2020
  • Tekken 7 World Tour circuit
  • The ESL One Los Angeles Major
  • China’s League of Legends Pro League
  • EVO 2020 Online
  • Capcom Pro Tour 2020
  • Arena of Valor World Cup 2020

While some of these events never took place, others went online, but overall, there was an impact on the logistics. Players who take part in multiple leagues had their season figured out, but the global lockdown measures affected their gaming lives.

The leagues and companies that didn’t adapt fast had a hard time. Some orgs, like Denmark-based North Esports, dissolved, though that was due to other factors.

Boost to esports

With the world on lockdown and most traditional sports cancelled, 2020 gave the esports market an opportunity amidst the crises. Most of the physical esports tournaments moved online, and corporate sponsors rushed to capitalise on the opportunity.  

Many people turned to gaming and esports to relax amidst growing levels of anxiety. The video game and esports market exploded as the global health crisis got worse. In-house entertainment gave a boost to esports as more people started to watch ongoing tournaments.

Halt in Geographical Expansion

One drawback of the cancellation of the physical esports events was the halt in geographical expansion. Gaming companies and corporations invest millions of dollars every year in tournaments and promotional events to attract more players.

Esports events in Hong Kong, South Korea, UK and other countries are already top calendar attractions. With these countries already having established esports infrastructure, the focus is now to spread gaming to emerging markets.

The disruptions brought by lockdown restrictions in 2020 continue to affect the spread of the sport. The momentum that had built up over the years came to a halt, and it might take years to rebuild.

Embracing New Age Technology

In a crisis, every industry must reinvent itself or die, and this has happened with esports. For an industry renowned for its innovation, esports has continued to leverage innovative technology to thrive. There are more streaming options for fans of the sport.

To continue delivering quality content, event organisers looked at different technology and remote production. Viewers demand every moment of gaming action, and gaming companies invested heavily in production equipment and changed their strategies to keep the show going.  

The use of high-quality, high-resolution cameras and broadcast setups with solid connection speeds continues help tournament organisers deliver good quality content from socially distanced or online-only events.

Esports Goes Mainstream

Most traditional sport leagues have discovered the power of esports to survive. A good example is NASCAR which hosts virtual races and attracted an incredible 1.3 million total viewers across Fox and FS1. With reduced activities during the global crisis of 2020, many traditional sport teams and athletes embraced esports, in tournaments like the F1 Virtual Grand Prix Series and FIFA ePremier League.

Sports personalities have increased investment in esports, while many teams across most traditional sports are looking to field or sponsor virtual teams in different leagues.

Final Thoughts 

There’s so much going on in esports despite the difficulties wrought by the 2020 global crisis. More people now know about esports and the gradual move to the mainstream seems inevitable. Despite logistical and financial challenges, the crisis has helped esports rediscover itself and continue on.

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