Can Esports Replace Traditional Sports?

The world of gaming has been finding huge success as the previously niche esports category has started to find a growing audience – although first emerging as a scene back in the early 2000’s, it had largely remained as a spectator sport for only the enthusiasts, but this past decade has changed that as changing attitudes toward gaming as a whole and the widespread adoption of esports has allowed it to grow much in the way it has. Much of this growth has been seen very recently too, the start of the year and the ongoing lockdowns saw many sporting events cancelled or postponed leading a different audience to seek out alternative entertainment, and with the lack of disruption to esports as a whole it had been chosen as an easily accessible option for many – but even with the cross over audience, can esports replace traditional sports in viewership?

For the bigger events like the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, the answer will likely always be not even close as these events can often attract upwards of one billion viewers – but for other titles it may be closer than many think. This, the League of Legends World Championship event boasted around 3.8 million concurrent viewers on the final day, and that is without including the huge audience in China that also view the event on different platforms – when compared with huge events like the Superbowl which last year reached a suggested peak concurrent viewership of around 3.1 million, some events are already starting to fall behind.

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The increased viewership has also led to the growth of other parts of the sport such as betting too – there had already been a growing crossover as the development of games such as FIFA and the NBA2K league have attracted a more casual audience who would typically view more traditional games, but a better understanding and more statistics has also allowed the number of punters to grow – despite changes early this year for certain initiatives such as Gamstop that aim to reduce player options, certain sites such as have continued to find great success for online betting and gambling largely due to this increased audience.

As mentioned above too, attitudes toward gaming as a whole have changed to make the change over a little less dramatic – mobile gaming has brought the hobby to millions of casual players and the development of a gaming scene across these same platforms have meant many are less afraid to explore something a little different. With the end of the year signalling the return of regular sporting events and  the continued efforts from esports, the lines are blurring a little but it’s certainly clear across all audiences esports is finding an increasing foothold and growing popularity – with organisations from traditional sports getting on board with the growth, you can begin to see the ever growing interest and the future possibilities in an industry that as of now is currently dominated by three games, leaving plenty of space for others to fill the gaps.

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