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Esports: The Future of Sporting

The future of sports is with technology that is Esports, a fusion of electronics and virtual reality, with traditional and electronic games/sports. 

Just like going to the stadium to watch your favourite sport, we are already at the doorstep of walking into virtual rooms or game lounges to watch our favourite sport(s) without ever leaving our homes. COVID has given esports a unique opportunity to showcase itself, with real-life stars competing alongside pro gamers in MotorSports. The current premiership league games in Europe and the world over are being played in empty stadiums.

 As supporters are watching these games in their homes on TV sets and online, this puts into perspective the reality of Esports. It’s just a matter of time when people start comparing the real league games to the electronic version.

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One reason why Esports are here to stay is that as an inquisitive species humans haven’t conquered the last frontier Space yet. Everything that’s being done in the tech world by SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galatic and the Xprice is in preparation of the LONG voyage. In 20 or 50 years do not be surprised to see calls for the LONG VOYAGE or a trip to Mars. These companies are racing to make space travel and tourism an everyday thing. 

Source: Google images.

A glimpse of how Esports will be a part of human life 50 years from now. Imagine football 100 years ago, that is where Esports is now. Esports will replace traditional sports when people are on LONG interplanetary space voyages. You can’t play football or tennis in space, it’s imaginable however, the investment to build that infrastructure will be massive, it will take years, Esports will simply fill the space sporting gap.

History is being written and a massive movement is happening now. Organizations like Esports Zimbabwe, Comexposed Zimbabwe are opening doors. Asia is already far ahead with an Esports Association and an organized infrastructure around Esports. It is the Mecca of Esports. 

This might be the opportunity you have been waiting for? In this article, you will realize that esports are your opportunity to own a soccer team or create your own Esports League. Perhaps it’s time you actively invested in video games and let your kids binge play those games online – they might surprise you. 

We are living in fascinating times.

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You probably know that the internet has a disruptive aspect on traditional business models. Most business models are vulnerable to the disruptive nature of the internet. It’s the nature of this world.  It’s dynamic and constantly changing: Change is the only constant.

A list of industries disrupted by the internet

Let’s look at the industries that have been disrupted by internet technology.

  • The telecommunication industry: the internet made the landline redundant. In 1950 whoever imagined and thought that every person would walk around with a portable communication device it was like magic.
  • Traditional broadcast television: the internet is delivering more content to the viewer through companies like YouTube and Netflix than ZBC could ever imagine. It’s just a matter of time before these traditional television broadcasters move over to the internet.
  • The hospitality industry: AirBnB and Booking Holdings Inc. among other internet  companies are now a nightmare for most hotels which are either shaping up or shipping out;
  • The vehicle industry- Uber and Lyft have turned this industry upside down pushing the TAXI business model out and about to replace drivers with self-driving cars.
  • Newspapers: There was a time when it was a tradition to buy a newspaper daily, that tradition is dead, the internet is providing up to date and live widespread coverage of world events directly to the consumer and people are coming up with their newsletters for specific niches. 
  • Photography: Kodak’s research and development brought about the digital photography technology in the 70s despite the fact; it lacked the foresight to see the disruptive impact as well as the potential of the new technology. When it figured it, it was too late the company lost its market share in the photography and videography industries.

The challenge with internet-based business models or anything that rides on the internet and technology wave is that they have an exponential growth curve which is disruptive. The problem with the disruptive curve is that people will not see what’s happening for like 5-10 years they will only notice the real change and impact when it has already happened and the new normal is setting in. 

Source: McKinsey & Company

Look at the vinyl and radio cassettes these items were in use for decades and a favourite. When the internet and technology met in the early 90s there was a disaster these love items disappear. The tape disappeared overnight following the introduction of the CD and DVD which also had a short life span as the digital (storage) age wave passed. 

The disruptive aspect of the internet and technology in traditional sports is yet to manifest in its real form, that doesn’t mean it’s not happening it will happen or its already happening as we see with the fusion of sports, technology ( internet, streaming and virtual reality)

Currently, we have traditional dominant sports like soccer, tennis, cricket, and basketball. These sports require massive investments in infrastructure and very soon someone is going to change that through esports. Online poker players can now play their favourite poker games on VR via Casino VR Poker.

Esports manifested in modern human life with the onset of the CORONA VIRUS lockdowns which led to racing engines around the globe shutting down. The lockdowns gave simulators around the world an unexpected window of opportunity to display the reality of esports. When the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled on the last minute simulators around the world like Veloce Esports and Torque took the opportunity and set up an “all-star” event featuring both real-world drivers, including F1 stars Lando Norris and Max Verstappen.

Esports 101: What are Esports and why are they such a big deal? 

Esports are new and confusing for first-timers. Well, they are not new. The first Esports games were played in 1972 for the game SpaceWar, the winners won a one-year subscription of the Rolling Stone Magazine.

“What games are played? Do they have a League(s)” Many games are played and they do have Leagues? 

If you recently heard someone mention that they have or are creating a “Fantasy League” and you thought, “What is that? I’ll explain what Esports are and why they are such a big deal (a massive and big industry you didn’t know existed). Plus, I’ll even tell you how you can get a piece of this cake.

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What Are Esports? 

Esports is a term shortened from the phrase “Electronic Sports”

Esports describes the world of competitive, organised video gaming. Competitors from different leagues or teams face off in the same games that are popular with at-home gamers: Fortnite, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Overwatch and Madden NFL, to name a few.

It’s important to differentiate between an Esports Player and a Casual Gamer; let’s say an esports player plays in a professional league or tournament more like PSL while the Casual Gamer is more like a casual soccer player (maboozer). 

Esports are essentially the professionalisation of the casual gaming world. 

Big brands and names that are putting money into esports: 

  • Michael Jordan led a group of investors that put in $USD26 million in a competitive gaming company called aXionatic Gaming which owns the popular esports organic Team Liquid.

Jordan called esporting “the fast-growing international industry.”

  • Drake Invested an undisclosed amount of money in the esports organizations, 100 Thieves.
  • Sean “Diddy” Combs was an angel investor in a funding round for Play VS.
  • Manchester United got into a bidding war over an Esports Team called Fanatic Overwatch.
  • F1, Formula E, Indycar, Nascar launched virtual championships.

Esports come in a wide variety of games:

  • Fortnite, 
  • League of Legends,
  • FIFA
  • Need For Speed 
  • Counter-Strike, 
  • Call of Duty, 
  • Overwatch and Madden NFL

The most popular games have leagues and tournaments.

Why Is Esports Such A Big Deal?

Esports is growing at a staggering rate with near billion-dollar revenues in 2019. Esporting as a profession and career choice has exploded over the last few years. It is changing the way content is consumed. Esports players are raking in millions just as in professional sporting like football, tennis etc. 

There are several reasons for the explosion of the Esports:

  • Not everyone likes traditional and contact physical sport
  • COVID-19
  • The internet together with advanced streaming technology made it possible for internet-based gaming communities to flourish.
  • Online business is BOOMING.
  • Virtual reality

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Source: Newzoo 2019 Esports Market Reports

There is serious money moving into Esports. If you want to make a name in this field you have to start investing now. As of today, you can create your team and compete at a global level.  

And the better you play, the more likely you are to make millions.

Challenges and Opportunities.

The greatest challenge to the development of Esports in Zimbabwe is our government’s reaction time to issues that have a potentially massive impact on people’s lives. In addition to that are the high costs of data, low internet speeds and limited network coverage. Esports and or online gaming require stable and blazing fast connection speeds of at least 15mbps for an excellent gaming experience.

Data costs to the ordinary people in Zimbabwe are still ridiculously high when compared to our regional partners. South Africa is already leading as it is embracing technology at every chance and has affordable data rates.

They are plenty of opportunities just as in the traditional sporting arena are: 

  1. Presenters, reporters, commenters.
  2. Gamming suppliers
  3. Professional Players
  4. Owning a club or team
  5. Esports betting houses
  6. Gaming Lounges

So now that you understand why it’s such a big deal, let’s do a deep dive on Esports using the most popular sport in the country football/soccer.

The Esports universe is vast. We are using soccer to give a perspective of what is possible so that we can pick and probably unpack the reality of the future.

So just as in traditional sports Esports associations like FIFA and ZIFA are being formed. Gaming organizations are managing leagues and tournaments. What does it mean for you if you are a FIFA EA, Fortnite or Overwatch fun or player and you want to go pro?

  • Go professional join a team 
  • Organize a tournament or league
  • Become a team owner
  • Create an association for Zimbabwe Esports players.
  • Report on Leagues and tournaments
  • Create a YouTube channel 

Esports Zimbabwe is one of the first esports start-ups in Zimbabwe and has managed to organize a couple of tournaments, it’s barely scratching the surface as compared to South African start-ups.

In my next article, I will go into the various business models presented by Esports and how you can tap into them.

About author

This the guest article was written for Techzim by Noel Rupanga Rupanga is an NGO Finance and development specialist and internet technology enthusiast, he writes in his personal capacity.

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2 thoughts on “Esports: The Future of Sporting

  1. The author doesn’t seem to understand eSports drawing some hard parallels to in-person sporting activities. eSports only share the competitive aspect of traditional sport, it is not a virtualisation of in-person sport.

    A person doesn’t play eSports because they don’t like physical contact in traditional sport. To begin with, this loosely applies only to games based on traditional sport. Even in that case, the mechanics are different as you play every position, something not possible in real life. And what of Call of Duty, is it played to shun physical contact in real war?

    Space endeavours have no influence on eSport whatsoever, in all likelihood cosmonauts will come up with their own space sporting activities, if the need arises. It is a creativity we have as humans, if someone has a ball in space, a sport will be born.

    And what’s with the unexplained click bait for graduates throughout the article.

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