For this year, it is estimated that Esports can reach an audience of almost 500 million people worldwide. In Colombia, the Professional Video Game League organizes the Golden League, the professional championship of League of Legends, one of the most popular video games worldwide. Here’s what you need to know about this growing industry.
Image of the face-to-face final of the Golden League in 2019.
Much more than a hobby, eSports (Esports, as they are popularly known) are a burgeoning industry globally that connects audiences, professional players, and big companies, just as it does with basically any other sport, just that on scales and with broader growth projections.
This is a rapidly expanding universe, which this year could reach a global audience of 495 million people, among occasional viewers and faithful followers of the field. To have a point of reference: the final two years ago of the NBA (the most prestigious basketball championship on the planet) had 25 million viewers; the final of League of Legends (an online video game) reached 99 million people.
Talking about Esports is, by necessity, a conversation that involves League of Legends, one of the biggest video games in the world and probably the most popular among Esports titles: with an audience of 100 million active users and championships , between professionals and amateurs, practically all over the globe.
In this panorama there are also other featured titles, such as Fortnite, Dota, Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Together, they move a global audience that, by 2023, is estimated to reach 646 million people, divided between fans, recurring and almost loyal users, and occasional viewers. For 2018, according to calculations by the Newzoo firm, this audience was 395 million people globally.
Launched in 2009, League of Legends is the hub of a vast worldwide audience, as well as a growing arena for team building and professional hobbies across the globe.
In Colombia, the Professional Video Game League (LVP) manages the development of the League of Legends professional tournament in the country, in which eight teams participate for the 2020 edition, grouping 56 players around 42 days a year, divided into two seasons: opening and closing.
To understand this scenario a little better, the easiest simile to digest is soccer: in the country there are two tournaments a year, which produce champions who, in turn, will play continental competitions and after that some global ones.
The League of Legends universe operates under the same parameters: the Golden League (Colombian tournament that started in 2019) produces winners that compete to qualify for the Latin American League (LLA) and the winners of the latter will compete for titles in world events.
The LVP is the largest Spanish-speaking Esports operator. Competitions such as the Golden League of Colombia or the Superliga Orange of Spain, are held in association with Riot Games, the creative studio of League of Legends and that at this point operates as a sort of FIFA, since it is this company that puts the official seal to the game championships that are held worldwide.
The most active Esports regions in the world are, without major surprises, the United States and China. According to a survey carried out by the portal The E-Sports Observer (TEO, one of the main sources of information on these sports), 60% of the respondents answered that the first market will concentrate the greatest investment opportunities, while by the second, 56% of the respondents voted.
Among those surveyed in this study, Southeast Asia and Latin America are among the regions with the greatest growth potential in the region. For 2018, it was estimated that 12% of global Esports viewers were Latin Americans.
Under TEO’s calculations, Esports will generate profits that will exceed $ 1 billion this year; the figure will grow to $ 2.5 billion by 2025.
In Colombia, two million unique spectators were counted for the LVP events during 2019, according to official figures; In addition, in this same year, it reached 4.2 million views of LVP content. Results from competitions such as the Golden League and the Free Fire Circuit make LVP the Esports operator with the most broadcasts and the largest audience in Colombia.
This year the first fully dedicated space for e-sports in Latin America was inaugurated in Mexico (a stadium, if you will): the HyperX Arena Esports Stadium, which will precisely host the finals of the Latin American league of League of Legends and has capacity to accommodate 100 people and to broadcast, with professional quality, the games online.
For the opening of the arena we had talked with Juan José Moreno, who is in charge of the communications area of Riot Games for Latin America. At the time, Moreno said that having spaces like that helped, precisely, to continue professionalizing a growing industry, to validate it before new audiences: “Think of it as a 17-year-old boy and he tells his parents that he wants to be a professional League player of Legends and there is sure to be a rejection. But this can change when it shows him that his sport is broadcast by the same television network that broadcasts the Champions League games. ” The opening of the arena in Mexico has the support of TV Azteca.