The world is now experiencing one of the biggest shifts ever seen in the entertainment scene – gaming and esports – a hobby once considered to be a threat to youngsters, is now on the verge of becoming a billion-dollar industry, one that is capable of providing economic growth to almost anyone, if they decide so.

It may come as a surprise to many that the esports scene has become a solid foundation for dedicated and passionate individuals around the world to make a decent living. After all, the idea of making thousands of dollars by playing a video game is still new to some.

What has become increasingly clear is that the growth of the industry is real and palpable. High-paying investors like Turner Broadcasting and Youtube have already become a part of the scene by acquiring the broadcast rights of some of the most watched competitions; increasing the accessibility via streaming only serves to increase the audience.

Significant contributions

With worldwide events and a fanbase that is reported to be exploding by the minute, what are the chances of esports providing something of substance to national economies? What has it already done to the global landscape?

Back in 2011, the Professional League of Video (LVP) was born in Spain – a bold, new take on what was an undiscovered market at the time. Starting first as a modest chain of tournaments, their approach became a sensation, with a consistently growing number of fans going to their competition. Nowadays, over 40,000 people are part of their Orange Superleague’s Gamergy.

Sponsors, advertisers and fans alike are drawn to the event year after year. And, as it seems, the popularity it garnered allowed for the creation of an ecosystem of competitions from different platforms that now have a packed calendar of activities throughout the country.

These examples serve as a reminder of the hidden potential an industry like esports has. The alliances between private sponsors and esports organizations help boost local economies and can even generate new environments for certain demographics to participate.

What’s in it for the esports players?

Although numbers seem to provide evidence that a strong and stable industry has been established, many still doubt if there are in fact any benefits for those involved in it on an individual level. Are players actually able to make a living out of this?

Yes, they are. In fact, some of their earnings can reach numbers close to a million dollars, if not more.

Being a successful player comes with its perks, as Singaporean sensation iceiceice can attest. Daryl Koh Pei Xiang – known as ‘iceiceice’ to the rest of the gaming community – has turned into one of the most relevant esports athletes of his generation, a title very few can claim.

Starting his career as a teenager playing Starcraft II, he quickly rose to stardom in the professional field after he was runner-up at the Blizzard SEA Invitational. From there on, iceiceice has been able to maintain a steady stream of championship titles ever since his move to Dota 2. He’s best known as one of the few players to have created a team of his own: Team Faceless.

Although Team Faceless was not able to achieve much success in the international circuit and was quickly disbanded, iceiceice remains as one of the highest earning players in the scene, with over $1.2 million in earnings to date in his career.

Just like his, success stories are heard all over the world – some even getting attention from mainstream media and the traditional sports scene.

And now, esports seem to be establishing a strong presence in the real world, with countries like South Korea and the United Kingdom requesting it to be considered a sports competition for the 2024 Paris Olympics. A move that, if approved, would certainly strengthen the industry’s image.

Education as the final frontier

As with any discipline, the amount of time spent practicing is crucial to the development of any player’s career. Some territories have taken notice of this and made it their responsibility to create environments in which players are given the chance to practice on a daily basis, so they can achieve better results.

This is where the ecosystem has allowed for the creation of spaces in which an educational opportunity can be put forward.

In Madrid, Movistar Riders has stepped ahead of the game with the creation of a specialized center for their players. Training rooms, a small arena for performances, and even a fully-equipped team of professional coaches – including a psychologist – are part of this revolutionary establishment that aims to become the go-to training center for esports in Europe.

Organizations are now taking into account the psychological aspect of the game, which can be translated into how other countries can look at these models and maybe implement a strategy to increase the participation of young people in an activity that seems to be both profitable and personally satisfying.

The numbers state it; the success stories confirm it; the increase in investments consolidate it. There is a change in the way people are perceiving video games now, which in itself allows for the creation of new platforms that would be in a country’s best interest if they so desire.

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