2013 Predictions: The Rise of eSports
By Mohammad Abubakr, OnRPG Journalist
The last year has been amazing when it comes to eSports. For those unfamiliar with the term, electronic sports are the competitive side of all video games. While most people play games to pass time and enjoy themselves, there are also those that play these games professionally. Their survival, literally, relies on their ability to perform in the competitive scene.
Remko has gone over what eSports is for those unfamiliar with the term: http://www.onrpg.com/MMO/Starcraft-II/review/What-is-E-Sports
We have seen some amazing tournaments in 2012 offering massive prize pools such as The International II with a 1.6 million USD prize pool and 1 million USD for the first place team! Tournaments such as these allow professional players to pursue their dreams as professional gamers. It is impossible to follow the competitive scene for all games which is why I will be focusing on Dota 2's competitive scene throughout this article.
Dota 2, just like other games with a large competitive scene, has seen a massive growth in both the quantity and quality of its tournaments. More and more players are being attracted to these competitive events resulting in record breaking viewer numbers for competitive events. With tournaments such as The International II having over 550,000 concurrent viewers, advertisers are unable to ignore gaming.
All countries are competing together, but can all countries have their own competitions?
In 2013 I would not be surprised to see these advertisers not only continue to sponsor teams but begin to form their own teams. Last year we have seen teams such as Evil Geniuses add on sponsors to their names and tags but eventually we will simply see more and more teams named after large companies. It won't be EG Raidcall but just Raidcall.
With more and more companies interested in sponsoring competitive teams, we should see a rise in the size and quantity of professional teams. Games such as Dota 2 cannot have team sizes larger than five but even these games can see increases in team sizes with multiple teams forming under one name. As more people are interested in the competitive side, many more open tournaments should be run in 2013 allowing any gamer to compete but most importantly be noticed. We should see many new faces in the competitive scene of 2013.
The old teams must be role models for the upcoming teams of 2013. The past year has been full of unprofessional conduct ranging from bad behaviour to multiple substitutes to untimely attendance. To be treated like professionals and offered professional tournaments, the teams themselves need to begin showing some professionalism. At least in the Dota 2 scene, professionalism is beginning to be enforced with consequences such as lowered prize money which is expected to lead to more professionalism from teams. In 2013, the overall professionalism of all competitive teams should increase. These teams need to show those in other industries that competitive gaming is serious business.
Casters doing their job – the size of the audience still amazes me.
The massive increase in viewers also results in an increase in revenue for tournament organizers. Aside from allowing these tournaments to offer larger prize pools, the quality of these tournaments should improve. This trend will continue through 2013 as organizers begin to experiment with new features and methods of delivery. There is also a lot of feedback available for these organizers which can put this extra revenue to use. We should see tournaments continue to grow in professionalism striving to match that present in traditional sports.
In 2013, more and more tournaments will begin to show higher production quality. No one likes to wait around for the next game to start and gaming tournaments are never quick to begin the next match. Preparing the equipment to meet each player's personal preferences can take time. If the current trend continues, downtime in between games should disappear leaving the viewers with entertainment throughout the entire tournament.
Wouldn't it be great to have our own Superbowl in the gaming world?
Analyst table at The International II helps rid downtime
Advertisers are not only interested in large tournaments but also spend money on personal player streams. However, I do not think this area will change too much in 2013. I can only see minor changes allowing for better communication between streamers and better visuals for the consumers.
While I do not think the prize pools for tournaments will increase drastically in 2013, there will be more money offered to players because of more tournaments being hosted. A lot more companies will see the potential of competitive gaming and will rush to help host more tournaments. The word of professional gamers means a lot to the casual players looking to improve. Companies offering products related to improving a gamer's capabilities will continue to be the primary drivers.
Geographically, competitive gaming should begin to spread across the world. Currently all the major tournaments and events tend to happen in the same country or area every year. Hopefully this will change and large events will be present in all countries across the world. A lot of people are interested in going out to attend large gaming events but not many are able to travel long distances to do so.
In conclusion, 2013 is looking bright for eSports. Mainly due to increase in popularity and accessibility, both the viewers and players will benefit greatly from changes brought forth in the upcoming year. If all of my predictions turn out to be true, this will be an amazing year for eSports!