There is this new phenomenon that started a spark a couple of years ago and is now onto a full-blown, raging fire. That phenomenon is eSports, or competitive video gaming. Yes, you read that correctly, people competing against one another in a video game and the crazier thing is it sells out sports arenas and theaters to the public to watch the most skilled teams and players battle it out to prove who is number one. As much as I would love to dive deep into what eSports are, this article is not the appropriate outlet.
Today I would like to discuss an even crazier phenomenon that is currently happening in the eSports world. I know what you’re thinking, what can be crazier than people playing and watching other people play video games, but hear me out. In that last year, professional and traditional sports teams have entered the eSports realm, by either buying a team’s spot or adding an eSports branch to their already existing sports program. The trend seems to have started in lower teams in different European Football Leagues, but has quickly caught on among other sports and leagues. Some of the most prominent names being the Philadelphia 76ers, Paris Saint-Germain and most recently AS Roma.
The list doesn’t include pro athletes or owners of professional organizations, that have ties in eSports. For example, Rick Fox (former NBA star, LA Lakers) owns an eSports organization called Echo Fox and Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez (Former MLB Player, NY Yankees), Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal and Jimmy Rollins (Current MLB Player, SF Giants) all have equity stake in NRG eSports. Not to mention Mark Cuban (Shark Tank Personality and Owner of the Dallas Mavericks) invested 7 Million dollars into an eSports Gambling company called Unikrn. I also forgot to mention that ESPN, you know the powerhouse of professional sports, now covers eSports. Don’t believe me? Go to their website and click on the 3 little dots in the navigation bar, right there in the drop-down menu is, yep you guessed it, eSports.
But why? It’s all about the money, the moolah, the dough, making it rain, etc, etc. The team execs are seeing the benefits, the amount of additional revenue and the publicity from investing in an eSports team. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more professional teams follow suit in the coming years. eSports continues to grow every year, selling out stadiums and racking up prize pool people only dream of.