Some 11,000 people cheer their idols at the Palacio Vistalegre in Madrid. Almost without an empty seat, with the sign hanging from no entries, they roar when they present their favorite players. They cheer each play for almost four hours. They disguise themselves as iconic characters. They make kilometer queues to sign a poster when the frenzy of the games becomes a constant murmur of comments to what they end up living. The European finals of the video game League of Legends, one of the great titles of electronic sports, were the reflection during a weekend of the incontestable rise of the so-called eSports. From a television production worthy of any traditional sport to the stage of competition. All symptoms of the growing wave that the sector is experiencing.
The latest study by consultancy Newzoo on electronic sports, presented in February this year, ensured that the industry would close the year with revenues of 775 million euros and with prospects for 2021 to reach 1,400. Dizzying figures if one takes into account that barely 24 months ago these numbers did not even reach half. As the professional player of League of Legends Maurice Stückenschneider, better known as Amazing, now you can live from the competition unlike when it started six years ago. "The teams increasingly invest more money in supporting us; but I, with 26 years, I am already a veteran and with what I charge, I will not be able to keep a long time once I retire, "he argues.
Every time there are more video games that try to join the competitive and professional scene. Not all are worth it, but those who achieve it have opened a further labor gap -especially for the youngest ones-. Players like Universe or KuroKy invoiced in 2017 about 2.5 million for their triumphs in Dota 2. As in any other sport, the middle class is very far from this situation. "If you compare us with the players, we are not at their level. Things are changing in our environment, but I can not say how far we will go, "Amazing warns. And they start their journey to maximum level when they are only 17 or 18 years old, with all that this implies. "We are children! This is a bubble. It is difficult to grow when there are children involved. We do not have the best confidence, "he adds.
Most professionals have turned work into what started as a hobby. Regardless of their ability to master a video game, the desire for competition is what ends up taking them to try to live what was once just leisure. What is not seen on the stage are the hours of training, of improvement, of theoretical study … of counting the hours by and for the eSports. To put his feet on the ground, Amazing himself asks the youngest to first study and not get involved directly in this business. "You need to grow before you join this. Even if you are a top player, you must have a backup for yourself and then do what you want. Right now everything is in the air, "he says.
The support of digital platforms
The apogee of electronic sports has a great culprit in the popularization of digital platforms. Broadcasts via the Internet, such as YouTube and Twitch – purchased by Amazon for 735 million in 2014 – have brought all events to fans. From any screen, you can see the title you want, news, reports or the training of your favorite player. The report of Newzoo places in almost 400 million the world audience of competitions for this year. The traditional teleoperators, as is the case of Movistar +, have also wanted to approach the phenomenon and have a channel dedicated exclusively to eSports on their grid. The same thing happens in the United States, where ESPN and Turner have followed this trail to broadcast American tournaments.
The video game industry has managed to transcend mere personal entertainment. It has lit a sector, for many still unknown, in constant growth. Those involved push hard so that it does not deflate, but others like Orange, Vodafone and Domino's have also set their sights on electronic sports, either in the form of sponsorship or as creators of content. "Everything is exciting, new. Suddenly, you find 3,000 people supporting you and shouting your name, "sums up Amazing. The symptoms indicate a promising future for eSports. The base that sustains them seems solid; although, just as the technology on which they support changes at a forced pace, the environment can also be transformed overnight.