When I first read about the rise of e-sports on NJgames, I laughed it off. The whole concept made no sense to me: people paying good money to watch others play games. And gamers getting paid to play said games. For a self-confessed nerd like me, this made no sense whatsoever. Why watch someone play instead of playing yourself?

Which only proves how out of tune I’m getting as I get older, I guess. Don’t believe me? Let’s start with my friend, Alex, whose 5-year-old’s favorite YouTube channel is that of a boy playing with his toys.

And let’s continue with some astonishing facts, like the $25 million prize offered by the most recent massive video game tournament, The International Dota 2 Championships (2018). Or the $360 million made by teams thanks to sponsorships and the 335 million viewers watching e-sports, only 40% of whom have actually ever played the game. Individual earnings can go as high up as $4 million; team ones up to $24 million, earned by Team Liquid across a staggering 1,403 tournaments.

Traditional sports are still the most popular when it comes to sports betting. E-sport isn’t doing that bad, though: in 2016, $5.5 billion dollars was wagered on major Esports titles. It’s estimated that this number will grow to a whopping $12.9 billion by 2021.

The most shocking fact, however, is that the International Olympic Committee is discussing introducing e-sports as a demonstration sport in 2024. Despite opposition, the 2022 Asian Games decided to opt-in e-sports as one of the competitive sports.

Who’s laughing now?

The rise of e-sports | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books