How COVID changed the esports scene

COVID has turned our world upside down, billions of people were hit hard by the pandemic and the world as we know it has changed. It’s not the coolest dystopian scenario we’ve had in mind for the future, and the future is now old man. It seems like every business sector has been hit hard except biopharma, mask producers and esports. Could this be an Illuminati conspiracy in tandem with esports corporations (let’s not say E-corps but, there’s a Mr. Robot reference here) all along, just as Deus Ex predicted in year 2K?

The inevitable rise of the esports

What happens when you lock millions inside their homes? As quarantines and lockdowns happened worldwide, well we did what we do best: entertain ourselves. We all thought at some point that this could be the end of days but instead, it was the beginning of the rise of esports. Covid pandemic has led to a boom in the esports industry, already popular among more online younger generations, it has gained the attention of hundreds of thousands who were stuck inside their homes.

Socially connecting individuals through the comfort of their home

Online gaming has a way of socially connecting individuals without leaving the comfort of their homes. This is where esports came in to fill that social void. In a survey conducted by PwC, 2,000 people revealed that just under half of participants are now playing or watching gaming content each week.

This increases further for younger age groups, with more than two-thirds of under 35s playing or watching gaming content. With more than half of under 35s open to watching gaming or esports”, according to another statistical study, by Statista, Europe overall has seen a total 50 percent increase in the interest of esports, where Spain comes in first with a 70 percent increase from what it was before the pandemic. In the US, once a niche industry, esports now has passed the revenue that the music industry brings.

Traditional sports industry joins the wagon

Traditional sports events were particularly hit hard because of Covid restrictions. NBA to Formula 1, lots of traditional competitions as we know them have shifted their attention to esports too, F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, featuring several current F1 drivers, and NASCAR with its eNASCAR events with the number of viewers peaking 1.3 million.

League of Legends rises its numbers fivefold

The final of League of Legends in 2018 had almost 100 million unique viewers connecting online and past numbers are now dwarfed compared to its covid-era numbers. An audience almost five times the number of what it once was. LCS Commissioner Chris Greeley states “We had a peak viewership of somewhere over 550,000, which were our biggest numbers in four to five years."

The future is now old man

What changed was not just how we normalized the way we “attend” the events but also how the events are being played out. What was once an arena full of fans has now become a battle between hotel rooms. Team members who tested positive for Covid-19 had to play against each other in their rooms just like in the early 2000s LAN parties where gamers got cramped up in a room with no airflow and extreme temperatures caused by body heat and computer fans. Funny to think that some of us have been training for the future without knowing what will hit us in 20-30 years ago back in our parents' houses whilst organizing LAN parties.

credit: JsonC11

Team X10 Crit’s victory over Envy in a VALORANT Tournament is a beautiful sight for us old-timers.

What will happen after COVID?

Seth Schneider of NVIDIA at Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show 2021 said "We suddenly had musicians holding concerts in Fortnite and major sports personalities playing video games on livestreams”. Esports is now meta in real life. Undeniably it has become a mainstream avenue of entertainment for ordinary folks (sorry). Not the cyberpunk future we wanted but the future we need I guess.

Are you an esports fan? If you're reading this, you definitely do. Do not forget to watch the matches of the team you support and place bets on Luckbox.