E-sports – importance and development

Which eSports titles are the most influential? What is the economic significance of eSports and how did it come about? You can find out here.

eSport or electronic sport refers to the sporting competition between e-athletes in computer games. It is usually about winning against the opponent in multiplayer games. However, there are also some games in which the aim is to achieve the highest possible score against the computer, e.g. in older games such as Tetris. According to our definition, this can also be described as eSports.

There are games such as Starcraft, Fifa or Street Fighter that are mainly played in single-player 1on1 mode, as well as teamwork-oriented titles such as League of Legends, Counter Strike or Overwatch. Imagine, for example, the strategy game Starcraft II as a variant of chess with the following further development:

  • The playing field is significantly larger and more complex
  • Players compete against each other in parallel in real time, not one after the other
  • Everyone tries to make their moves as quickly as possible with up to 300 actions per minute
  • The number of different game pieces is significantly higher
  • In addition to the pure mental challenge, hand-eye coordination and reaction speed also play a major role.

For many e-athletes, it is already possible to live exclusively from their sport. Incidentally, some of them earn really well in the high six-figure range. Internationally, there are also some famous eSports millionaires. One prominent example is the player “Faker” from South Korea.

The most popular eSports games in December 2021

  1. League of Legends
  2. Counter Strike GO
  3. Valorant
  4. Fortnite
  5. Overwatch
  6. Dota 2
  7. Apex Legends
  8. Rocket League
  9. RainbowSix Siege
  10. Call of Duty Warzone
  11. Starcraft II
  12. Hearthstone
  13. PUBG Battlegrounds
  14. Fifa 21

For our list, only those games are considered in which tournaments with high prize money are held and/or for which an international professional league exists. The order is based on the twitch.tv viewer numbers. Temporarily very popular titles such as PUBG (Playersunknown’s Battlegrounds) are therefore not included in this list.

Economic significance

Numerous large corporations have long since recognized the economic potential of the e-sports movement and are investing millions in the operation of tables or as prize money for tournaments. Manufacturers of PC components such as Intel, Samsung and Acer are among the biggest first movers.

However, team sponsorship along the lines of traditional sport is now also common. A prominent example is the South Korean team SK Telekom, which is sponsored by the local telecommunications company and has dominated the League of Legends game on the world stage for years.

Business with new games and gaming hardware is also booming. The annual turnover of the gaming industry, including e-sports, is already estimated at over 80 billion euros for 2020. This means that the video games industry is already bigger than the film industry! (Data source Statista: https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/160518/umfrage/prognostizierter-umsatz-in-der-weltweiten-videogames-branche/)

Anyone who perceives “computer games” as a trivial niche phenomenon that is only practiced by nerds should perhaps take a sip of reality and not consume so many Tatort episodes or RTL TV shows. In contrast to the consumption of video games, this actually makes you stupid: https://www.netzwelt.de/news/72582-endlich-bewiesen-fernsehen-macht-dumm.html

Recognition as a sport

Unfortunately, e-sports are not yet recognized as an official sport in Germany. However, the e-sports association for Germany http://www.esvd.de/ is working towards official recognition.

Let’s get to the facts. E-sports are now recognized as a professional sport in many countries. These include Korea, China, Sweden, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and the UK. In the USA, there are already individual cases for athlete visas for e-athletes from abroad. (Source Wikipedia: https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-Sport).

Some people have to see it to believe it. So here is a short video that should convince you in under 1 minute that e-sports is here to stay and that it is no longer a nerd niche phenomenon:



Similar to the church in the Middle Ages, German sports officials should not see themselves as the center of the world and should consider whether their point of view is outdated when a country like China officially recognizes e-sports, where more people live than in all of Europe and the USA combined.

History of e-sports

In principle, the history of e-sports began with the first really popular video game, Pong, in 1972. On October 19, 1972, the first competition took place on the campus of Stanford University, with the winner winning a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. (It’s amazing how official and legitimate something looks when a world-famous elite university is involved, even if the event was probably more of a fun event at the time).

In the 80s, arcade machines and amusement arcades became the focus of the competition-driven digital fair.

Later in the 90s, the infamous LAN parties slowly began to appear. They brought the gaming phenomenon to the masses. Many a male teenager who was around 15-17 years old around 1998 reminisces nostalgically today when the subject of LAN parties is mentioned. Transporting 40 kg of equipment including a CRT monitor to a friend’s stuffy basement and then playing against each other all weekend. We only ate pizza and coke. We slept with our faces on the keyboard. A glorious time that we also remember with a proudly swollen chest.

The international breakthrough of competitive gaming with the internet came around the year 2,000. Since then, there have always been new tournaments, tables and just-for-fun multiplayer games that are played in many thousands of different games.

The best-known league in Germany today is the ESL (Electronic Sports League) and one of the best-known e-sports tournament series is the Intel Extreme Masters with prize money in the millions.

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