Esports is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. Yes, Esport is classified as a sport but not without a little controversy. Competitive gaming has been around for years, the first real video game competition took place in 1972 and it was played on the game Spacewar. Competitive gaming really gained traction when viewers started streaming live competitions on platforms like Twitch – a live video game streaming service for gaming enthusiasts. The recent influx viewership and prize money of gaming events and competitions around the world has been tremendous. The 2019 Fortnite World Cup which was played in July earlier this year saw the winner walk away with $3 million in prize money and viewership of 2 million just for the Fortnite Cup.
Here in South Africa Esports is still relatively small although the gamers and viewers are increasing year on year. South African gamers made 3.78 million in prize money in 2018 by playing professionally. Gaming events like the rAge Expo which is held in Johannesburg is a great example of how much Esports is growing in South Africa and around the world. Vodacom has jumped on board as the main sponsor for the event, changing the name to the Vodacom rAge.
Esport competitions can be played individually or as a team depending on what type of game is being played. The most popular games are first shooter (FPS), real time strategy and multiplayer battle arena games (MOBA). Teams usually enter competitions with team members often covering multiple games within tournaments. We have a growing number of gaming teams in South Africa. Orlando Pirates Football Club has even started their own Esport team which represented the Buccaneers in the FIFA20 football Esport tournament. One of the most popular Esports tournaments is the League of Legends World Championship. The 2018 tournament final was watched by over 99 million people and has even been included as a medal event in the 2022 Asian games.
Betway opened their doors to South African in 2017 and has since been a great supporter of up and coming sport. They are the official betting partner of the Mzansi Super League cricket tournament which is currently being played around South Africa and is being broadcast on SABC channels. Betway saw the growth of Esports and has recently added the sport to their betting catalogue. At the moment Betway has six different tournament games to bet on. These games include; League of Legends, Dota2, Counter-Strike, Rainbow Six, Starcraft and Rocket League. Most of the games that are available at Betway have different leagues within the game. Counter-Strike for example has six different leagues in the game. Esport punters can bet on which team will win different rounds in the tournament.
Esports will continue to grow as the more and more people start watching live tournaments. Companies will come to realise the potential of Esports as a great platform to advertise their brands. Whether you think Esports it is a real sport or not, it is definitely here to stay.