i3 - January/February 2018 - 44

Esports - THE FIRST
Esports come of age with
traditional sports investment.
By John Gaudiosi

urner and WME/IMG's ELEAGUE is kicking off its third
year of esports competition with a preview at CES as part
of the two-day CES Sports Zone, presented by Turner
Sports. Professional video game players are now a mainstay at CES, as these rock stars of the video game world
attract global followings and huge brands.
Riot Games sold out Beijing National Stadium in November, also dubbed
the Bird's Nest, a venue built for the 2008 Olympic Games. More than
80,000 League of Legends fans converged from around the globe, while
more than 30 million fans watched the finals between Korean teams
Samsung Galaxy and SKT T1. This event occurred just a few months after
Valve Corp. awarded more than $24 million in prize money to the top Dota
2 teams, including $10.8 million to Team Liquid. That annual competition,
called the International, packed Seattle's KeyArena while attracting more
than 92 million streaming views.
With more than 385 million fans worldwide, esports has grown from an
underground millennial and Gen Z pastime to a global phenomenon.
Research firm Newzoo reported a 41.3 percent year-on-year growth for the
esports economy, which topped $696 million in 2017.
While esports originated in South Korea and spread across Asia and
Europe, North America is now the largest esports market with revenues of
$257 million last year. Brands, led by many mainstream and non-endemic
companies like Coca-Cola, Hisense, Mercedes-Benz, Samsung and
T-Mobile, invested $517 million in esports last year (in 2017). And Peter
Warman, CEO of Newzoo, expects that number to double by 2020.
As esports has become big business, and one of the easiest ways to connect with the elusive millennial and younger audience, traditional sports
companies are also investing in professional video gaming.

T

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i3 - January/February 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i3 - January/February 2018

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