My Misconceptions of the Already Powerful eSports Industry
A 14-year-old me enjoyed his post-school routine activity, get on my PC, log onto Twitch and watch the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) tournament matchups. Ah, to be young and carefree!
While this was over six years ago, I still remember how much I loved watching how the pro-players used their skills in their game. Their positioning, aiming, and next-level team strategy were jaw-dropping for an obsessive young fan like me. For me, CS:GO was like basketball, there was a game clock, ten guys on the court, and each player on each team had a specific role to help their team win the game. You built a bond with your teammates and mimicked the tactics used by the game’s pros. You had so much fun during the forty-minute match.
Despite the fact that CS:GO and eSports were relatively new, they stormed the gaming world. Six years ago, CS:GO was the most downloaded video game on the PC, and one of the most popular games to watch on Twitch. Its fanbase was just as large as your local NBA team and enjoyed bets with pots large enough to make it onto the Las Vegas sportsbooks.
But, when I moved on from the game in 2017, as did many of my friends, the game continued growing, just like eSports. Only four years ago, I was unaware of the game-changing emergence of battle royale genre games like Fortnite and Call of Duty: Warzone, which led the industry to break the billion-dollar mark.
Last week, I spoke to one of the Distinguished Fellows for the Innovation Institute, Matt Payne, who is the founder of Inner Circle Solutions, LLC. Payne is one of the leaders of event safety in eSports, where he previously served as the Director of Global Safety at Fortnite’s developer Epic Games.
I came in prepared for our talk, or so I thought. I assumed with the past I had in playing CS:GO, that I just knew everything about the industry. That I previously betted and followed the game’s pro teams, I thought that I knew everything. But came in Payne, and he shredded me into pieces, in a respectful way of course.
Mr. Payne explained to me that the industry has grown exponentially since 2017. Cities such as Dallas and Washington D.C have financed their own eSports arenas. One of the largest markets, Japan, hasn’t even scratched the eSports industry due to the gambling and betting laws in the country.
From my talk with Payne, I learned so much. He taught me why the eSports industry matters. It isn’t just growing, it’s here, tangible, and its growth is explosive. There is evidence everywhere, like in 2017, CS:GO hosted a tournament in Poland, where they gathered over 173,000 fans in person, and 43,000,000 viewers joined online. This is Super Bowl-level viewership! It can and will be replicated around the world.
There is a reason why cities in America are investing in arenas specifically designed for these events – the fan base is real and growing. There is money to be made. Payne, who has a resume so exemplary that I wouldn’t be surprised if he will have a White House cabinet position at some point in his life, is an amazing ambassador for the industry. He chose to continue his career in eSports because he understands the nuances of something so new as eSports. The rest of us have to be fast learners to keep up!