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The unstoppable rise of esports

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The unstoppable rise of esports
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Chances are if you told someone 15-20 years ago that competitive gaming would become big business in the near future, they’d have told you that you’re crazy. However, in the words of Bob Dylan, “the times they are a-changin'”. Whilst largely the preserve of amateurs at the turn of the millennium, esports has become a true sporting behemoth in an incredibly short space of time. With gripping tournaments, such as The International and The League of Legends World Championship, as well as a plethora of skilled competitors duking it out to bag huge cash prizes, it’s little wonder that esports’ popularity is constantly on the up.

Prime to make the big bucks!

Just to give you an idea of exactly how much of a big deal esports is nowadays, in 2021 the global esports market was valued at just over $1.08 billion, which is even more remarkable, given that this figure represents a whopping 50% increase on last year. Such exponential growth shows no signs of stopping any time soon either, as esports’ global market revenue is projected to reach the dizzy heights of $1.62 billion in 2024.

At present, Asia and North America are the largest esports markets, with China alone accounting for almost 20% of the entire market.

Who’s tuning in?

With so much money flowing around, this begs the question: who is actually watching esports? Well, quite a few people. As of 2021, 474 million people from around the world are tuning in to get their esports fix, and this figure is set to rise even further in the near future. According to current estimates, it’s said that esports will be attracting 577 million viewers from all corners of the world by 2024.

Just to give you a concrete example of how esports’ viewership is growing, ESportsBattle events (including e-football, CS:GO, e-basketball and e-ice hockey) are now getting 6m more viewers a month this year than in 2020 (24m in 2020 and 30m in 2021). Of all the Esports Battles disciplines, CS:GO events have seen the most substantial upturn in viewers since the start of the year, with such events attracting 384k more viewers in August than in December of last year. Moreover, CS:GO matches garnered 280k more views in August than in June (400k in August compared to 120k in June).

From gaming to betting

Of course, with the money floating around and so many fans tuning in, it goes without saying that esports is making its presence felt in the world of betting, and sportsbooks are champing at the bit to get a slice of the action. Consequently, esports has already become one of the five most popular disciplines among European and Asian punters, and is even one of the top two most popular disciplines on some sites, with more and more bets being placed on esports events by the day.

For example, the total number of bets on all ESportsBattles events rose by a whopping 99.9% between December and August 2021. The number of bets placed on ESportsBattle CS:GO events rose by 70.6% between February 2021 and August 2021 and the numbers of bets on e-football events saw a 93.1% between December 2020 and August 2021. What’s more, with 24/7 tournaments, as well as more than 15,000 matches per month, such rapid growth is only set to continue.

eSports

Mercedes’ Jarno Opmeer in pole position to retain World Championship crown in three-way title race for 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship

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Mercedes’ Jarno Opmeer in pole position to retain World Championship crown in three-way title race for 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship
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Reigning champion Jarno Opmeer will go into going the Grand Final of the 2021 F1 Esports Series Pro Championship presented by Aramco leading the Drivers’ Championship, ahead of Lucas Blakeley and Frede Rasmussen, after this week’s thrilling Event 3. Just as the real-life Constructors’ Championship is finely poised, Mercedes and Red Bull are neck and neck in the Teams’ title fight, after the latest trio of races.

Event 3 began with drivers taking to Portimao, for the first time in Pro Championships history, to battle the ‘rollercoaster’ circuit, with its huge undulations and fast straights. Blakeley had a front row seat from off, starting P1 on the grid and dominating the field throughout, racing clear of the chasing pack and only relinquishing the lead when he came into pit, as he continued to show his championship credentials. Rasmussen showed why he is also a strong contender for the crown, with an impressive performance on the alternative strategy, as he made his way through the field on the soft tyres towards the end to pick up an important second place finish for both his own title ambitions, and Red Bull’s. Fabrizio Donoso turned a great qualifying session, starting P4, into a second podium finish of the year for Alpine, rounding off the top three.

Mercedes were able to hit back as attentions turned to Zandvoort, as Dani Moreno took his maiden victory in the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship, ahead of Rasmussen, who scored his second P2 finish in a row. The pair had tussled for the lead throughout, as Rasmussen took the lead on Lap 1, but it was Moreno who prevailed late on taking P1 in the latter stages of the race, and withstanding the pressure from the following group. Blakeley secured another podium finish, his fifth of the year, with third place and Bari Boroumand continued his fine form in his debut season with McLaren, having secured pole in Zandvoort, and finishing just outside the podium places in P4.

Opmeer, who finished P7 and P6 in the previous races respectively, fought back with a huge victory at the Circuit of the Americas to reclaim top spot in the Drivers’ Championship, and make it back-to-back wins for Mercedes. Rasmussen made it a hat-trick of personal podiums in Event 3, with a P2 finish, putting him only eight points back from Opmeer in the standings. Nicolas Longuet secured his first podium since Round 1, whilst title contender Blakeley managed P6, adding crucial points to his tally and just five points off Opmeer.

It is still all to play for as we look towards this year’s Grand Final, which will take place on 15-16 December, and will feature races at Imola and Mexico, before the final race in Brazil, which has played host to many title deciders during the illustrious history of F1.

Drivers are continuing to race remotely from their homes or team facilities, as they did in the 2020 season, but the hugely popular competition continues to broadcast from the Gfinity Esports Arena in London. Following the same Event format as recent campaigns, teams battle it out on the official F1 2021 video game, developed by Codemasters, with the live shows are streamed online via official channels of Formula 1 on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch and Huya, as well as broadcast on television via select international broadcast partners.

F1 Esports events have achieved over 40 million views across TV and digital, in the last 18 months, and this popularity led to a record number of people attempting to be a part of this year’s Pro Exhibition, with almost half a million taking part in qualification. Qualification for next year’s competition is now open through a challenge in the official F1 2021 video game, with the second event live until 30th November.

 

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eSports

GTRACING Enters into Partnership with Manchester City

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Manchester City has signed a new partnership with one of the leading brands of gaming chairs, GTRACING. The partnership will see GTRACING become the Official Gaming Chair Partner of Manchester City’s esports operation and players.

Manchester City’s esports players and GTRACING will collaborate on various content and fan engagement activations throughout the partnership, in addition to the brand featuring across a number of Club digital assets. The parties will also release a line of co-branded gaming chairs.

“We’re delighted to welcome GTRACING as a partner of Manchester City Football Club’s Esports team today. As a Club, we are dedicated to providing authentic esports experiences for our fans and I am pleased that GTRACING will be joining us on this journey as we continue to find new ways to engage with our fans within this space,” Gavin Johnson, City Football Group’s Media Director, said.

“The integration of traditional sports and esports is the inevitable development of the times, and it is also the core growth project of GTRACING. We are very glad to be able to provide fans with a unique competitive experience through this innovative partnership with Manchester City. Gaming chairs are very important to the esports experience. GTRACING will be committed to focusing on optimizing product innovation to fully meet user needs,” GTRACING founder Aaron Wu said.

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Global Esports Federation Announces Creative Group Helmed by Global Cohort of Creative Directors

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At a time of dynamic creative expressions across genres and multimedia platforms, the Global Esports Federation announces the GEF Creative Group, leading the way for inclusive experiences that connect esports, arts, culture, and entertainment.

Helmed by a line-up of acclaimed creative professionals from the world’s creative community, the GEF Creative Group will provide a forum to shape the GEF’s thinking and initiatives in the creative realm.

The cohort of Creative Directors includes Beatrice Chia-Richmond (Singapore), Chad Knight (US), Catherine Ugwu MBE (UK) and Levent Erden (Turkey).

“Esports is a natural marriage of technology, stunning visuals, competition, all great ingredients for an immersive and entertaining show. Working as Creative Director on the Singapore 2021 Global Esports Games ceremonies has also enabled hyper-connections with the vast global community of the GEF, and this has been particularly exciting,” Beatrice Chia-Richmond said.

“I’m honored to be appointed to the GEF Creative Group, to be among creatives who champion inclusivity and honor the traditions and diversity of players and athletes. I’m excited to be a part of the future of esports, in which technology fosters the intersection of mental and physical agility,” Chad Knight said.

“Having led creative teams on every continent on earth for the Olympic movement, nations, communities and global brands and projects, I am excited to bring that network and expertise to the dynamic esports community across the planet, into the metaverse, and beyond,” expressed Catherine Ugwu MBE.

“Creativity lies at the heart of humankind. Our ability to look inward and show the world the enormous potential of the powerful creative community of esports acts as a beacon for young people. Connecting people, cultures, and places through innovative technology and entertainment is a great opportunity that the Global Esports Federation brings to life,” Levent Erden said.

Paul J. Foster, CEO of the GEF, expressed his excitement on establishing the GEF Creative Group that will inform and guide the connection between gamers and creatives as the collective metaverse takes flight. With less than a month to the Singapore 2021 Global Esports Games, the Creative Group has been active in supporting the direction for GEG2021 as the GEF’s flagship event comes to life.

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