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Esports Exposure Exploding During COVID-19 Outbreak

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The Esports Ecosystem On Track To Reach $1.8 Billion By 2022
Esports competition (Photo by Esports News. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license).
Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

Esports was already a booming business coming into 2020. Last year, Esports topped $1 billion in revenue for the first time. That was a 26.7% increase from 2018.

A sure sign of the growth in the popularity of Esports is shown by the fact that its highest-grossing revenue stream in 2019 was in the area of sponsorship. According to a published report, there was nearly $457 million generated in sponsor money by Esports last year.

Esports leagues and tournaments are drawing huge audience numbers. Estimates were that almost 454 million took in an Esport event last year. Those are the kinds of numbers that encourage major corporate sponsorship of the events.

COVID-19 Impact

The outbreak of the coronavirus has led to another spike in popularity among Esports. In North America, the NHL, NBA and MLB halted their seasons. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament was canceled. Golf and tennis also stopped playing. The launch of NFL and NCAA football seasons in the fall remain uncertain.

Around the globe, almost of the world soccer shut down. The European Champions League and the English Premier League took a hiatus. Euro 2020 and the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics were postponed.

With all of the major sporting leagues forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 virus and the accompanying bans on large gatherings, there’s little in the way of sports to entertain the masses. Sports fans were left desperate for an outlet. Sports networks sought out programming. Sportsbooks looking for other forms of betting turned their attention to writing more wagers around Esports events.

Esports are stepping up and proving capable of filling the void. While not completely bereft from feeling the impact of COVID-19 – the large tournament events held in halls filled with spectators watching video game team competitions such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty and Dota 2 are currently not permitted.

The Overwatch League is playing its entire 2020 season online. Play! Pokémon canceled its North American International Championship and World Championship.

However, the ability of Esports to adapt and be played by players under quarantine is giving them a leg up on actual sports.

Industry estimates are that the demand for Esports has increased by 300% since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Big League Sports Entering The Fray

Virtual sports are also a big part of the Esports explosion. Competition in soccer, basketball, tennis, horse and greyhound racing are among the many virtual sports on offer.

There are events built around tournaments in such popular sports-themed video games as Madden NFL, NBA 2K20, FIFA, and NHL 20.

The major sports leagues already recognized the potential for virtual spots as a revenue growth stream. Both the NBA and NHL began holding tryouts to pick players to form virtual versions of their actual teams that would eventually compete in simulated leagues.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the big leagues are looking to get in on the Esports explosion and keep their sports going at the same time.

NASCAR has been holding the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series, where actual NASCAR drivers compete in races as their virtual selves. The simulations are carried live by Fox Sports and are proving to be a big hit with racing fans.

NascarPro Invitational iRacing Series (Photo by: YouTube.com screenshot).

The Nielsen ratings for the first event of the iRacing Series came in at an average of 638,000 households and 903,000 viewers, making it the most-watched Esports event of all-time.

By comparison, live NASCAR racing during the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series averaged 2.1 million viewers per race. NASCAR’s iRacing ratings are almost on par with the 2019 numbers for viewers of their second-tier racing competition, the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Those races averaged 725,000 homes and 948,000 viewers.

Formula One is also contesting virtual Grand Prix races, with its drivers racing as their virtual selves. Australian SuperCars competition is doing likewise.

Other sports also are holding Esports competitions to give their fans a regular fix during the coronavirus quarantine. The NFL organized a Madden tournament featuring eight current NFL players. The NBA put together an NBA 2K20 tournament with 16 current players in action.

The most ambitious of these virtual sports simulations is currently being undertaken by Major League Baseball. An MLB The Show competition is pitting 30 of today’s MLB players, each representing their own team.

They are playing a 29-game regular season, facing each other player once. The top eight players will qualify for postseason play, which will lead to a virtual World Series champion being crowned.

Other sports have opted to take their Esports competitions in an entirely different direction. With the Australian National Rugby League season on hold, instead of their slated match, members of the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs and Wests Tigers competed in a game of Fortnite that was live-streamed on both team’s Facebook pages.

Esports Future Bright

During the 2004-05 lockout that wiped out the entire NHL season, poker utilized that opportunity to fill the broadcasting void left by no hockey and became a television staple.

COVID-19 has created a similar opportunity for Esports to grow exponentially and gain a foothold with a mainstream sports audience that might not have given it a second thought otherwise.

Esports was growing rapidly regardless. As one of the few sports still currently playing, its already bright future is blossoming with significantly more glow.

 

Asia

Asian Regional Qualifiers Host Announced

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The International Esports Federation (IESF) is delighted to announce the highly-anticipated IESF Asian Esports Championship, set to take place in Chengdu, China, from September 9th to 14th, 2024. This championship will be the final regional qualifier leading to the 16th World Esports Championship Riyadh,  WEC24.

Huati Gaming will bring its experience to this event as a local organizing committee, together with the China National Cyber Games and Sichuan International Expo Group.

The championship will begin with an online competition from June 20th to June 30th, providing a digital stage for the national champions to showcase their skills and secure a spot in the offline event. Athletes and teams from 42 countries in Asia and Oceania will come together to compete in Chengdu. The championship will feature competitions across CS2, CS2 Women, DOTA2, MLBB, and MLBB Women, and an online qualifier for PUBG MOBILE, showcasing the region’s diverse talent and interest in Esports.

“It is a great pleasure to host our first championship in Chengdu, China. The city is known for hosting big events, especially major esports tournaments, and it makes it the ideal location for this year’s Asian Esports Championship. This event will present a unique opportunity for the teams, athletes, and the large fanbase from this region, to experience the excitement of competition that defines our championships.” – stated Boban Totovski, IESF’s General Secretary.

In addition to top-tier competition, this championship will also provide opportunities for emerging talent to shine on an international stage. The winning teams will earn the privilege of representing their countries at the prestigious WEC24. 

“Hosting the IESF Asian Esports Championship in Chengdu, China, fills us with immense pride as we welcome athletes and countries from across the region. The fans are already anticipating the thrilling competition, where the finest talent of Asian esports will showcase their skills. As we gather to compete, let us harmonize globally, celebrating our differences and uniting in the spirit of friendly competition.” – stated Xu Ming, Chairwoman of China National Cyber Games 

Given Chengdu’s known reputation as a center for Esports excellence and innovation, the IESF Asian Esports Championship promises to be a celebration of Esports, uniting players and fans from this region in a showcase of skill, passion, and sportsmanship. Stay tuned for updates and announcements as the championship approaches.

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eSports

Copenhagen Major 2024 – Betting Overview

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The Copenhagen Major has ended but that doesn’t mean it’s still not on replay in eSports fans’ minds. The Counter-Strike 2 (CS2) tournament was one of the most exciting events of the year so far, with all of the most iconic teams and talented players clashing for a chance at glory.

In the end, Natus Vincere fought through the stacked playoffs bracket to take down FaZe Clan in the Grand Finals 2-1. NAVI’s Justinas ‘jL’ Lekavicius was the MVP with incredible stats and heart-stopping and game-changing moments.

With so much action, it’s no surprise that the Copenhagen Major had a lot of bettors on the edge of their seats. Using our insights and analytics, let’s take a closer look at how viewers spent time on betting sites throughout the tournament to give you a better idea of what to include in your sportsbook for the next tiet-1 tournaments in Counter-Strike (CS).

Most Active Regions

When it comes to CS2, there’s one region that’s extra dedicated to the eSports scene and that’s Europe, far and away. Counter-Strike has always had a massive following in the Nordic and CIS-regions in particular, so this is probably no surprise. But it’s definitely something to keep in mind when creating content on your site.

Europe 91.40%
Oceania 4.20%
Latin America 3.70%
North America 0.50%
Other 0.30%

Most active regions on the Kambi network during PGL Copenhagen Major 2024

Live vs Pre-Match Betting

You can either bet on a match pre-match or live. Pre-match are bets made before the match begins, usually predicting which team will come out on top. Bettors will consider how the teams performed against one another in past tournaments as well as how each team does on that particular map.

Live betting involves placing bets based on what you see during the match, giving you more insight into how the match is going. It wasn’t as popular as pre-match betting, but it was pretty even.

  • Live 47%
  • Pre-match 53%

Most Bet On Teams

Copenhagen had all of the teams you know and love, all fighting on the big stage on stream for a shot at the top spot. Still, some teams stood out for bettors more than others. This is usually due to their popularity and past performances, whether fans are rooting for a sure thing or are taking a risk with an underdog team that’s had a good season.

FaZe Clan and Natus Vincere were both dominant at Copenhagen, so it’s no surprise that bettors paid them the most attention throughout the stages.

“It’s ironic that NAVI, who had a lower tournament rating than its direct competitors and didn’t have the most outstanding CS during the tournament, was able to take the prize home,” the Esports Trading Supervisor for Abios, Pavel Malinousky, said. “It was particularly disappointing to see Karrigan conclude the final map at his home arena with a score of one to 15.”

FaZe Clan 5.01%
Natus Vincere 4.68%
G2 Esports 3.38%
Eternal Fire 2.55%
Team Vitality 2.50%

Most bet-on teams on the Kambi network during PGL Copenhagen Major 2024

Most Bet-On Players

Similar to teams, there were stand-out players at Copenhagen that bettors felt confident about. These are players with consistently incredible performances at recent tournaments, giving bettors a chance to bet on their KDA and other exciting stats and moments.

XANTARES (Eternal Fire) 0.32%
Aleksib (NAVI) 0.31%
w0nderful (NAVI) 0.30%
KSCERATO (FURIA Esports) 0.29%
huNter- (G2 Esports) 0.29%

Most bet-on players on the Kambi network during PGL Copenhagen Major 2024

Most Bet-On Matches

Remember earlier when FaZe Clan was revealed as the most bet-on team? This explains why a bit further. Most of the matches on this list include FaZe Clan, a crowd-favourite team with top players and a hype following. Fans wanted FaZe to win throughout the playoffs and most definitely spent time watching the match with shifting eyes and teeth on their nails.

As expected, the Grand Final match had the most betting activity. Unfortunately for FaZe fans, the outcome didn’t go as desired.

FaZe Clan – Natus Vincere 6.94% Grand Final
Spirit – FaZe Clan 5.02% Quarterfinals
Natus Vincere – G2 Esports 4.91% Semifinals
MOUZ – G2 Esports 4.77% Quarterfinals
Team Vitality – FaZe Clan 4.01% Semifinals

Most bet-on matches on the Kambi network during PGL Copenhagen Major 2024

Most Popular Bet Offers

Alright, so you’ve seen the most active regions and the most bet on teams and players. What do you do with that information? Well, here are the most popular bet offers that viewers took advantage of while visiting sportsbooks throughout the Copenhagen Major.

The most common bet was choosing a match winner, meaning picking the team they believed would beat the other. But another popular bet was total kills, with fans betting if a certain team or player would reach a specific kill count. This explains why many fans were keeping an eye on players like Aleksib and huNter-, who are known for clutch plays and racking up the headshots.

“As expected, there was a lot of interest from the fans and it grew stronger as the event went on,” Malinousky said. “I should also mention that viewers paid attention to and liked player prop markets in particular. A considerable number of bets were made on them. I would say that trading has not changed significantly because we, like eSports experts, did not notice any major changes in the game that could have influenced the outcome of an event. So, at this stage, the major tendencies were spotted well before the PGL Major began.”

Match Winner 63.50%
Total Kills 15.12%
Round Handicap 5.43%
Map Handicap 3.67%
Round Winner 1.92%

Most popular bet offers on the Kambi network during PGL Copenhagen Major 2024

Looking for up-to-date and accurate insights for CS2 majors and beyond for your sportsbook? With more than ten years of experience in eSports, Abios provides a data-driven product suite for popular eSports titles such as CS2, League of Legends, Valorant and Dota 2 to sportsbooks looking to take their eSports offering to the next level.

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Asia

Profiles of Animesh Agarwal, Naman Mathur, Payal Dhare and Tirth Mehta

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  1. Animesh Agarwal aka 8Bit Thug, Founder & CEO of 8Bit Creatives and Co-Founder of S8UL

Mr Animesh Agarwal is the Founder, and CEO of 8Bit Creatives, India’s leading Esports consulting and talent management agency.  He is also the founder of S8UL, a hub of gaming content and Esports. S8UL is the parent org of IQOO SOUL, the leading Esports organization in India.

S8UL is the only Indian Esports organization to win at the global Esports Awards and has done so multiple times by securing the prestigious ‘Esports Content Creator of the Year’ recently. Having also won the inaugural ‘Global Impact on Mobile Gaming’ award at the MOBIES earlier this year, the organization has elevated the stature of Indian Esports worldwide. Moreover, team SOUL has also roped in iQOO as its exclusive title sponsor, marking the first time that an Esports organization in the country secured a high-profile title sponsorship with a mobile manufacturer that extends beyond individual tournaments.

Animesh dons several hats as an entrepreneur, an ex-pro gamer, a monster energy Esports athlete, a gaming & luxury lifestyle content creator, and a pioneer in the Indian Gaming Industry. He has a deep understanding of the industry and is dedicated to shaping the Esports and gaming industry in India. He has partnered with other industry front runners like Nodwin Gaming & LOCO to make substantial strides in advancing gaming & Esports in India.

His Company, 8Bit Creatives is equally making remarkable milestones in the business of content creation and brand collaborations around gaming and esports. With some of India’s top gaming talents in their line-up and backed with experience and exposure of collaborating and curating campaigns with 100+ top-notch brands like Netflix, Coca-cola, Reliance Digital, Mx Players, OnePlus, Realme Narzo, Flipkart, Airtel, and many others; 8Bit Creatives boasts of managing popular and renowned gaming content creators and influencers- Mortal, Scout, Mavi, Snax, Thug, Payal, Kaashvi, 8bit Goldy, 8bit Sid to name a few.

 

  1. Naman Mathur aka Mortal, Co-Founder of S8UL

Naman Mathur, popularly known as Mortal, is a prominent figure in the Indian Esports community and the Co-Founder and CMO of S8UL Esports. Known for his exceptional gaming skills and influential presence, Naman has been instrumental in shaping the landscape of Indian Esports. His achievements both as an Esports athlete and a gaming creator have earned him global recognition, cementing him as the face of Indian Esports.

Naman holds the distinction of being the only Indian Esports athlete nominated four times in the prestigious global Esports Awards. The 26-year-old clinched the runner-up in the ‘Esports Personality of the Year’ category in consecutive years in 2022 and 2023, following his previous nomination for the ‘Streamer of the Year’ category in 2020 and 2021 where he secured the second position on both occasions.

As an Esports athlete, the Mumbai-born gamer has won notable tournaments including the BMPS Season 1 (2022), PUBG: Mobile Club Open, and PUBG Mobile India Series (2019) while also representing India on the international stage. Acknowledged for his exceptional gaming content, Naman was honored with the ‘Best Gaming Influencer’ at the Impact Digital Influencer Awards last year.

With an impressive following of 7 million subscribers on YouTube and over 5.3 million followers on Instagram, Naman’s influence transcends his gaming prowess, as he has played a pivotal role in elevating the status of Indian Esports on a global scale.

 

  1. Payal Dhare aka PayalGaming, India’s leading female gamer who is part of 8Bit Creatives

Payal Dhare, hailing from the small city of Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh, defied societal stereotypes from an early age and embarked on a journey as a gamer. It all began when her cousin brothers introduced her to the world of video games.

While Payal’s father provided unwavering support, her mother initially shared the concerns for her future. However, Payal’s determination and passion gradually changed her mother’s perspective. As a result, her mother now stands as a proud supporter of Payal’s achievements.

Payal commenced her career as a hardcore content creator. Although her first video on YouTube did not feature gameplay, it served as a significant starting point for her. Unlike aspiring lifestyle influencers, Payal’s primary focus was to connect with her audience through gaming. She aimed to have fun while playing games and involve more people in the process. Payal believed that competitiveness was not always necessary when engaging in video games.

By breaking stereotypes and pursuing her passion, Payal Dhare has become an inspiration for aspiring gamers, content creators, and individuals seeking to challenge societal norms. With over 3.1 million followers on Instagram and 3.69 million subscribers on YouTube, her journey exemplifies the importance of following one’s dreams, even in the face of adversity.

 

  1. Tirth Mehta, Bronze medal winner in Hearthstone at Asian Games 2018

Tirth Mehta, a 28-year-old lad from the sleepy town of Bhuj in Gujarat’s Kutch district won the bronze medal in Hearthstone — a popular online digital collectible card game — at the Esports demonstration event at the 2018 Asian Games. Hearthstone, developed and published by American video game company, Blizzard Entertainment, has garnered huge interest among online gamers from across Asia, including Japan, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, besides India. The game is a combination of chess and poker, requiring players to have core skills in maths and probability.

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