How the esports industry maintains player base amid pandemic


Despite major in-person esports championships being cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, streaming websites such as Twitch, YouTube and Smashcast have continued the traditional of online game tournaments.

The most popular competitive games played in these tournaments include but are not limited to Counterstrike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Dota 2, Overwatch, and Fortnite. To find a list of tournament schedules, a viewer can either go on to an individual game’s website and search for upcoming events, or search for live events on a streaming site.

Even major companies such as Facebook have introduced tools supporting the esports industry, such as the recent release of the “Tournaments” program that can be found on Facebook’s gaming page.

“The product provides major aid for gamers looking to create and join free-for-all competitions, with features such as registration, seeding, brackets, leaderboards, and livestreaming,” said Sophie Caraan in her article for HypeBeast.

Mainstream engagement in the esports industry has had an exponential growth as more players are investing in game-streaming platforms and tournaments, transforming it into the billion-dollar industry we see today.

One esports gaming league, Super League Gaming, has had a growth of 20% for new registered users in the month of March, this number pales in comparison to the 6-7% growth the league fostered before the outbreak of COVID-19.

Gaming leagues such as this are advertised as giving players a sense of community and belonging instead of going through the game solo.

“If your son or daughter is going to be gaming, don’t you want them to be doing it with a team structure?” said Ann Hand, CEO of Super League Gaming, in an article by Komo News.

Some individual video games are also concentrating their focus on amateur players growing their skills to play as a professional on a league, such as the new game, Valorant.

“Our primary focus early on will be forming partnerships with players, content creators, tournament organizers and developers – unlocking them to help us build the Valorant ecosystem,” said Whalen Rozelle in an article by ESPN.

On April 7th, the Beta release of Valorant broke streaming records on Twitch for most hours watched in a single game category with 34 million with a peak concurrent viewership of 1.7 million.

Despite the great efforts to transition from in-person tournaments to at-home tournaments, many players are still finding it hard to find the same enthusiasm in the new platform. Just as physical sports fans feel the energy and excitement of attending a game with roaring crowds, esports fans are missing the energy of the crowd cheering on their favorite teams working together on stage.

“Streaming events simply do not have the same hype as in-person tournaments,” said Dalton Williams, Saddleback student. “Just as sports fans root for their favorite players, the gaming community has with their favorite players.”

But those in quarantine have no forgotten the importance of online interaction during these difficult times.

“Gaming has served as a distraction for many of us, and often times it’s the best way for us to talk to our friends and hang out with them in some way while this quarantine is going on,” said Zachary Martin, Saddleback student and avid esports player.