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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.