Over the last decade, a significant cultural shift has occurred in the entertainment industry. Esports, the organized and competitive form of video gaming, has gone from a fringe interest to a global sensation, captivating millions of fans and bringing in billions of dollars in revenue. This rapid rise has not only transformed gaming from a casual hobby to a legitimate profession but has also firmly established itself in mainstream culture, challenging traditional sports and revolutionizing the entertainment industry as a whole.
Esports, short for electronic sports, has evolved into a flourishing industry encompassing competitive gaming, live events, sponsorships, media coverage, and an ever-growing fan base. As technology advances, so does the potential for esports to redefine what it means to be a spectator and participant in the world of sports and entertainment. With a structure that mirrors traditional sports leagues, including professional teams, star players, and devoted fan communities, esports has become an influential force, making a significant impact on the gaming world and broader society.
For this roundtable, European Gaming spoke to Kevin des Lauriers, CEO at J3STER, and Kirill Nekrasov, Product Officer at BETBY to delve deeper into the rise of esports, examining the factors behind its explosive growth, the influence it wields across various industries and the exciting possibilities that lie on the horizon. By understanding the transformative power of esports and the remarkable journey it has undertaken thus far, we gain insights into a phenomenon that continues to reshape entertainment, challenge societal norms, and captivate a generation of enthusiasts.
How is the rise of esports changing the way people interact with games?
KDL: Globally, we’re seeing a big increase in arenas being built specifically to draw in fans of esports. We’re also seeing a rise in LAN events across the world, with competitive and even casual players now putting together teams in order to get involved. Smaller sponsors are putting on more tournaments, and there seems to be a plethora of new leagues being created for any and every game imaginable – not just the usual titles, such as Warzone and League of Legends.
KN: There is a vast increase in viewers who passionately follow certain teams and particular disciplines within esports, whether that be soccer, ebasketball or any other sport that they like. This engagement ultimately acts as the spark for viewers to become participants, following in the footsteps of their favourite esports players, getting involved at an amateur level and engaging with the esports that they enjoy most.
Influencers are often the faces of esports. What impact do these figures have on the industry?
KDL: In the industry, we’re in an interesting spot where influencers currently have a lot of power. Prominent players can discover and highlight exploits in games, effectively pushing game publishers to release patches and fixes more frequently. These publishers are also clamouring to release new features to keep these influencers happy and engaged, otherwise they risk them moving on to the next big thing.
There are armies of community managers working with game publishers, ready to provide influencers with gifts such as giveaway items for their fans, card packs, in-game content such as skins and more. Winning these influencers over is a surefire way to garner a positive reception in the esports sphere.
KN: In many industries, influencers are becoming more high-profile, garnering trust amongst audiences and shaping trends. These people within the esports industry are no different, whether they are players who were already in the public eye, or streamers who have amassed an organic following. However, the impact of these figures can both be positive and negative.
If influencers enter the world of esports solely to generate quick success and garner hype, without having an esports background or a noticeable passion, then this can have a negative impact on the long-term development of the industry. If they do not enjoy the content, or understand the complexities and depth of esports, passionate fans will see through this attempt to engage with them and be turned away.
This can reduce the quality of new entrants. Some may also use their popularity to promote products or events that do not align with the values and needs of the esports community. This can also create a negative perception among fans.
Following that, what is the main appeal for both players and influencers to get involved in esports?
KDL: Most influencers are pros (or ex-pros), which effectively makes this relationship analogous to the classic sports commentators. They educate us on how good these “new players” are, and what we can strive to become – or simply admire from afar.
However, pro esports players arguably aren’t as well-known today as the players we grew up with in classic sports. Some influencers host watch parties of big esports events, helping their fans to understand a little bit more about the teams and their players, which opens it up further for newcomers to get involved.
KN: Doing something you love and are passionate about, and competing at a competitive level cannot be underestimated. Entering esports, whether as a participant or influencer, should be a long-term commitment rather than just a temporary one. The esports community is incredibly passionate and this is a key selling point to getting involved, to be surrounded by like-minded people who care about the industry.
Being fully committed can bring a long-term career, and being able to participate in professional competitions, and potentially creating your own brand and personality that generates a following.
In your own opinion, how do you think you’re pushing innovation within the esports industry?
KDL: On paper, J3STER is everything that Twitch influencers and viewers can wish for – community, engagement and monetization. We focus on creating lines for each influencer based on their match data, with the odds generated being unique to that influencer and their community.
Our mission is to increase the influencer’s ability to monetize without requiring any further work. J3STER does all of the work through seamless API integrations. Influencers can sign up through their Twitch account, connect their game data through our publisher API connections, and then send the link out to their viewers. This process can be completed in less than one minute.
For viewers, they have an alternative to tipping through Twitch streams, as each bet placed through J3STER gives the viewer the opportunity to tip the streamer directly. Of course, when there’s a bet on the line, each viewer is much more engaged in the outcome of the influencer’s match.
KN: BETBY has been actively innovating the esports industry since its inception. We started our journey in esports with the Betby.Games project, which is a unique opportunity for bettors to wager on the most popular esports disciplines, providing 24/7 availability, and minimising human error.
Something which is a big bonus to our brand is our trading department, with many being esports fans themselves. Because of this, they are actively searching for new and unique markets and tournaments for our brand to be involved with, and expanding our offering. BETBY was the first company to offer its customers markets on the Pokémon UNITE Championship, Team Fortress 2 and Trackmania.
Of the latest product releases, it is worth highlighting our Betbuilder, which allows you to make combo bets within a single match, and which has already gained recognition among esports fans thanks to the exciting nature of these types of bets.
What are your predictions for the future of esports?
KDL: The eyes on esports have now reached the point where marketers simply cannot resist or oppose it any longer. I believe that, within the next five years, we’ll have more people tune in to watch a major esports competition than will tune into the Superbowl.
It’s also absolutely plausible that esports will very soon have the same energy behind it that the World Cup has – but this will require influencers with the necessary reach and power. Also, which game will headline? Will it be League of Legends, one of the biggest and longest-standing esports games, or perhaps Counter-Strike? Call of Duty is also another contender, as its recent huge rise in popularity is notable.
If the legions of gamers and influencers within the esports industry cannot decide on a headlining game – in order to give esports an ‘identity’ – everything will continue to be grouped under the umbrella of ‘esports’, which could diminish its potential. Evolution is necessary, and I believe it’ll happen very quickly.
KN: The esports industry will certainly continue to grow and become even more professional. In the context of betting, this will mean a transition to a more professional relationship between market participants, whether it is obtaining broadcast rights or using data.
For spectators and fans of esports, the events will become more exciting as participation increases. We are also seeing a strong development in production standards from tournament to tournament, and this is really incredible to see. In addition, I personally expect an active expansion of esports on mobile devices which will widen the audience and will also help the emergence of a couple of exciting new disciplines in the industry.
The Esports Awards Reveals Pro & On-Air Talent Finalists
The Esports Awards, the most prestigious night in the esports calendar, is excited to unveil the finalists for this year’s Pro, On-Air Talent, and Journalism categories which include the likes of Fnatic, Amjad “AngryBird” Al-Shalabi, and Yinsu Collins with voting now live. This year’s Esports Awards, taking place across the 29th and 30th of November, will be hosted by the most innovative and technologically advanced nightclub in Las Vegas, Zouk.
The finalists were announced live across the Esports Awards broadcast platforms, including their Twitch.tv channel by American Esports Host Daniel “dGon” Gonzales, Rocket League Caster and Content Creator Elyse “Herculyse” Herrera, Esports Caster Phil “EEVisu” Visu, and Esports Hosting royalty James “Dash” Patterson.
The Esports Awards will also host PWR UP Las Vegas, held at the luxurious Resorts World Las Vegas. PWR UP Las Vegas is the ultimate esports, tech, and gaming conference. Headlining the event is the groundbreaking Esports Awards Open, a golf tournament blending networking and entertainment with top-tier industry executives and celebrities. PWR UP Las Vegas promises to be an electrifying event that defines the future of esports, tech and gaming, powering up passion within the industry.
The full Pro, On-Air Talent and Journalism finalists are as follows:
Esports Team of the Year
- Team Vitality – CS:GO
- Team Vitality – Rocket League
- Fnatic – VALORANT
- Evil Geniuses – VALORANT
- New York Subliners – Call of Duty
- JD Gaming – League of Legends
- w7m Esports – Rainbow Six Siege
- Echo – ML:BB
- Gaimin Gladiators – DOTA
- TSM – Apex Legends
Esports Organisation of the Year
- Team Vitality
- Team Liquid
- G2 Esports
- Gen.G Esports
- Karmine Corp
- Moist Esports
- 100 Thieves
- Optic Gaming
Esports Coach of the Year
- Danny “Zonic” Sørensen
- Victor “Ferra” Francal
- Christine “Potter” Chi
- Ehsan “DREAL” Javed
- Igor “igoorctg” Santos
- Renzo “Renzo” Oemrawsingh
- Jan “Swani” Müller
- Aske “Cy-” Larsen
- Yoon “Homme” Sung-young
Esports Breakthrough Player of the Year
- Alexis “Zen” Bernier
- Max “Demon1” Mazanov
- Thomas “Scrappy” Ernst
- Kim “D0NGHAK” Min-sung
- Kim “Peyz” Su-hwan
- Anders “Vejrgang” Vejrgang
- Martin “Yike” Sundelin
Esports PC Player of the Year
- Nikola “NiKo” Kovač
- Cho “Maru” Seong-ju
- Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut
- Quinn “Quinn” Callahan
- Nemanja “Hunter” Kovač
- Zhuo “Knight” Ding
- Emir “Alfajer” Beder
- Max “Demon1” Mazanov
- Phillip “ImperialHal” Dosen
- Jung “Chovy” Ji-hun
Esports Controller Player of the Year
- Alexis “Zen” Bernier
- Paco “HyDra” Rusiewiez
- Zain “Zain” Naghmi
- Matthew “KiSMET” Tinsley
- Mashita “acola” Hayato
- Amjad “AngryBird” Al-Shalabi
- Finlay “Rise” Ferguson
- Jack “ApparentlyJack” Benton
- Arslan “Arslan Ash” Siddique
- Phillip “ImperialHal” Dosen
Esports Mobile Player of the Year
- Mohamed “Mohamed Light” Tarek
- Frederic “Bennyqt” Gonzales
- Gaku “Gaku” Mukai
- Erik “Joker” Granström
- Burenbayar “TOP” Altangerel
- Tensai “Tensai”
- Peng “Fly” Yunfei
Esports Colour Caster of the Year
- Marc “Caedrel” Robert Lamont
- Dan “Gaskin” Gaskin
- Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson
- John “JohnnyBoi_i” MacDonald
- Mohan “Launders” Govindasamy
- Thomas “Chance” Ashworth
- Ioannis “Fogged” Loucas
- Dominik “Lacoste” Stipić
- Chad “Spunj” Burchill
- Michael “Hypoc” Robins
Esports Desk Analyst of the Year
- Mimi “aEvilCat” Wermcrantz
- Tyler “Tbates” Bates
- Barento “Raz” Mohammed
- Alyssa “Allycxt” Parker
- Anthony “NAMELESS” Wheeler
- Mira “Ephey” Riad
- Alex “Mauisnake” Ellenberg
- Kale “Genome” Morton
- Mathieu “Maniac” Quiquerez
Esports Host of the Year
- Alex “GoldenBoy” Mendez
- Eefje “Sjokz” Depoortere
- Freya “Freya” Spiers
- Sean “Stax” Stackhouse
- Caleb “WavePunk” Simmons
- Yinsu “Yinsu” Collins
- Chris Puckett
- Jorien “Sheever” van der Heijden
- Lottie Van-Praag
- Ana Xisdê
- James “Dash” Patterson
Esports Play by Play Caster of the Year
- Steven “Tasty Steve” Scott
- Alex “Machine” Richardson
- Brennon “Bren” Hook
- Mark “Onset” Hatcher
- Conner “Scrawny” Girvan
- Brandon Smith
- Callum “Shogun” Keir
- Clayton “Captain Flowers” Raines
- Mitch “Uber” Leslie
- Bruno “BrunoClash” Veiga Lopes
- Miles Ross
- Lauren “Pansy” Scott
Esports Journalist of the Year
- Richard Lewis
- Dominic Sacco
- Kevin Hitt
- Alexander Lee
- James Fudge
- Mikhail Klimentov
- Antonio Yuste
- Cecilia D’Anastasio
- Alejandro Gomis
“I’m continually awestruck by the incredible talent present in the esports industry. It’s an absolute joy to gather everyone and create a space where we can acknowledge, celebrate, and foster growth. I’m eagerly anticipating the upcoming night of fun and camaraderie we’ll share in Las Vegas this November.” Michael Ashford, CEO, Esports Awards
The Esports Awards 2023 campaign key dates:
- 13th – 20th November: Turbo voting period–votes are worth double
- 20th November: Voting closes on all categories but 3
- 25th November: Voting closes for Esports PC Player, Esports Organisation and Esports Team of the Year
- 27th & 28th November: Inaugural Scholars
- 29th & 30th November: Esports Awards 2023
The 2023 Esports Awards is brought to you in partnership with Xfinity, Oakley, Amazon Music, Sizzle Creative, and 5GRV.
HP Inc. and edX Launch Free Professional Certificate Program in Esports Management, Game Design, and Programming
edX, a leading global online learning platform from 2U Inc., and global technology leader HP Inc. announced a new online Professional Certificate program in Esports Management, Game Design, and Programming to bring cutting-edge skills to learners globally.
Available in English and Arabic (with more languages to follow later this year), the new Professional Certificate program includes over 60 curated modules designed to prepare learners for jobs in the gaming, media, and information and communication technology (ICT) sectors. HP is covering the full cost of enrollment in the certificate track for all learners. Enrollment is open at edX.org.
“Working with edX reflects our commitment to supporting learners worldwide by providing access to free educational content in the field of gaming. We are taking a vital step in democratizing gaming education, ensuring that individuals have the opportunities to gain the skills they need to pursue careers in gaming and adjacent industries,” Mayank Dhingra, senior education business leader at HP, said.
As demand for gaming professionals rises, the Professional Certificate program offers a diverse curriculum across game design, game programming, and esports management. Courses encompass both technical skills, such as coding and testing, as well as essential business skills including marketing, storytelling, and content creation. Throughout the program, learners will have access to video modules, each ending with an assessment, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Learners who successfully complete each course in the Professional Certificate program will also receive a certificate of achievement for the program free of charge.
“With the launch of its first program on edX, HP joins hundreds of universities and institutions in the edX global partner network committed to expanding access to affordable, cutting-edge education in the world’s most in-demand fields. This collaboration enables HP to reach millions of aspiring learners and professionals, fostering skill development and career advancement in the gaming industry,” said Andrew Hermalyn, president of partnerships at 2U, said.
GGTech Entertaiment Appoints Cristina Carranza as Head of Global Sales
GGTech Entertainment has appointed Cristina Carranza as the new Head of Global Sales.
After almost ten years at Amazon and Twitch, Cristina Carranza arrives to reinforce the international team led by Eduardo García, who recently joined the company as Chief Product Officer.
Her professional achievements include the launch of Twitch Ads in Spain and the pilot development of global gaming programmes such as Amazon GAMERGY and Amazon UNIVERSITY Esports. With her international experience, Cristina Carranza arrives with the aim of boosting the company’s global growth and developing cross-border sales relationships.
“I have been working with GGTech for more than four years and I have fallen in love with their company culture, the great human quality of their team and their vision of what they want GGTech to become, making it the world leading company for entertainment, gaming, and esports. I am proud to be part of this project, developing the global sales and business strategy,” Cristina Carranza said.
“The digital entertainment industry, the streaming world and the ‘gaming boom’ are some of the drivers that generate this great business opportunity for which GGTech is ideally positioned, the challenge now lies in transferring this vision to other regions and sharing the brand’s products and services to the most passionate fans of the video gaming world,” Carranza added.
The addition of Cristina Carranza will provide GGTech Entertainment with the vision and skills of a professional with an enviable track record, backed by her 10 years of experience in the digital, e-commerce, entertainment and gaming sectors, developing international business for both retail and advertisers.
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