Level 1: The Overview
The world of esports can seem like a niche community to those on the outside of it, however the reality is a stark contrast to the way some mainstream outlets view it. Esports is officially a billion dollar enterprise and, at its current rate, is set to catch up with traditional sport by 2040. With millions of viewers across the world and significant corporate and public investment into the esports space, what is the future of this emerging industry?
Sports Simulators, First-Person Shooters and Fantasy Arenas, the three main genres dominating competitive, spectator-heavy eSports tournaments. FIFA, Madden, CS:GO, Fortnite, LoL, StarCraft and other AAA titles generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sponsorships and pay top competitive players millions in winnings.
The sheer size and monetary value of esports was demonstrated when the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund announced they were entering the esports game, launching the Savvy Gaming Group and acquiring e-sports giants ESL and FACEIT for a whopping $1.5 billion. Aspiring viewers can now even study esports in academia with the University of Portsmouth offering an undergraduate degree of Esports Coaching and Performance.
Level 2: With Money Comes Pressure
With the growth of the industry, the competition for places on professional teams and to simply be a professional esports athlete is extremely tough. This, linked with the world’s biggest tournaments being held in sold out arenas in front of hundreds of thousands, means the pressure athletes are under can feel immense. Due to this, and with players using a console or PC for hours on end everyday training to be the best, a lot of support that the athletes get is mental rather than performance based, unlike in traditional sports.
Level 3: You’ve Unlocked Performance Analysis
Furthermore, only the best and most well-funded teams have analysts to complement their coaches and athletes, whereas other organisations will have a coach in an all-encompassing role, inhibiting their ability to dedicate time to analysis whereas in traditional sports most clubs have several analysts with varying specialities. Among some there is still a somewhat old-fashioned view that talent is innate within athletes rather than something that can be nurtured and developed through strategy and analysis.
One reason that esports is behind the curve on performance analysis is availability of data. Within mainstream traditional sports, teams can capture data using one or a combination of several external data providers. Within esports PandaScore are an example of a company who provide data to broadcasters and gambling sites to inform betting odds using artificial intelligence. Teams are able to pay for this data at different prices depending on if they want post-match data or live data fed to them in real time.
The Final Boss
However, as with any sport, or any data source for that matter, the statistics that are available to a team are only useful if they can be interpreted and fed back to players and coaches in a way that they understand. It is therefore important that esports, due to teams using coaches can often be ex-players who won’t have access to dedicated performance analysts when they were playing, look to traditional sports and the methods of performance analysis used within them to help improve strategy, harness talent and also prepare for specific oppositions in order to have the best chance of success.