William Hill To Launch First eSports Service in US

william hillUK bookmaker and online betting giant William Hill made history this past weekend when it started accepting eSports bets at the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.

The sportsbook is operated by the U.S. division of William Hill and it is the first time that wagering on eSports has been offered in the state of Nevada and in the United States.

The bets were taken for the IEM Oakland eSports event held last weekend at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, featuring the highly popular video game League of Legends. The landmark launch happened after William Hill and partner Downtown Grand Las Vegas received approval from the Governor’s Gaming Policy Committee to accept bets for the event.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval said that the approval was a major step in placing Nevada on the path to become the top destination for esports wagering, adding that the fledgling eSports industry in the state would continue to look to include the latest in technology and innovations in the industry.

Amidst the rising popularity of eSports, betting on such games or tournaments has been seen as a natural extension of sports betting. Under current gaming laws, Nevada allows betting on athletic competitions. The chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board believes that eSports betting can be put in the same category as athletic sports and hence only minor regulatory adjustments were required to legalize eSports wagering.

Seth Schorr, Chief Executive Officer of Fifth Street Gaming and Chairman of the Downtown Grand Casino said that the approval was an excellent example of the industry working with the government to achieve a result that will have a positive impact Nevada’s gaming revenue. Schorr stated that he was proud that Downtown Grand Casino would be the first facility to offer legal eSports wagering in the U.S.

Downtown Grand had opened a dedicated lounge for eSports earlier this year and has been holding weekly competitions for games like Street Fighter, Madden, and Mortal Combat. William Hill said that the launch was a measure of the company’s commitment to provide gaming customers with latest innovations.

In a statement Joe Asher William Hill U.S. Chief Executive Officer said

We are excited to partner with Seth Schorr and the Downtown Grand to become the first sports book in America to offer legal wagering on eSports. A lot of work has gone into bringing eSports to the Nevada betting market and we thank the Governor and his Gaming Policy Committee, the Gaming Control Board and Seth for all of their efforts to keep Nevada at the forefront of the gaming industry

Forbes Draws Comparisons Between The Poker And eSports Industries

ForbesThe fast growth of eSports industry across the world is expected to create strong competition for the global poker market and its monies.

Writing for Forbes, Darren Heitner a lawyer and leading expert on sports and entertainment law has highlighted that the expansion of eSports was a real phenomenon, occurring across the world.

Canadian lottery operator Loto-Quebec has launched the first legal gaming platform for eSports, heralding a new phase in its growth.

Unibet Open

Darren Heitner has cited the results of a recent in-depth analysis that evaluated the monies involved, key players and the scope of the two games and found that poker for the time being has an advantage over the eSports market. The primary reason for this is due to the enormous prize pools involved in poker tournaments that eSports currently doesn’t have.

According to the report, the eSports industry is likely to go up by 43 percent in 2016 and be a $463 million industry. On the other hand as a result of online poker’s worldwide popularity its value is likely to reach $40 billion in 2016.

The popularity of eSports can be measured by the rapid increase in the viewership of live eSports events. Almost 40 percent of China’s smartphone owners which numbers around 600 million, have said that they have watched an eSports event. But TV viewership for eSports is still far behind the poker industry as the poker market has a number of established poker programs and live tournaments such as the World Series of Poker (WSOP) which draw a massive fan following all over the world.

Heitner also noted that while eSports has its celebrities such as Peter Dager, they are yet to crossover to the mainstream and reach the high levels of fame and popularity that poker stars such as Doyle Brunson enjoy. He however said that this was largely due to the relative longevity of poker and its history of broadcasts on TV.

In Heitner’s opinion, the ease of access via the internet along with the availability of platforms like Twitch has the potential to bring eSports to the forefront. Twitch in fact brings together fans allowing them to even converse with each other during matches.

The eSports industry continues to grow in population due to a number of options such as the ability to wager on the outcomes of eSports games. Heitner estimates that given these advantages the game will grow fast and witness similar success to that of the poker industry. He believes that it is only a matter of time before the eSports industry hits the coveted $1 billion mark.

Pros & Cons of Becoming a Professional eSports Gamer

become a pro eSports gamerAs the global eSports industry continues to expand and the prize money continues to grow, it is starting to become popular for an avid eSports gamer to make it a viable career option and play eSports for a living.

To become a professional gamer requires hours of dedicated practice just like it is required in any other sport. A player who wants to turn professional and make a living playing eSports must have a love for the game as only then will they be committed to putting in such long hours which are critical to become a pro eSports gamer.

There are many factors to be considered before deciding to choose a career as an eSports gamer as there are a number of pros and cons associated with becoming an eSports professional gamer. We take a look at some of the main pros and cons of becoming an eSports professional gamer and leave you to decide if you want to consider becoming a full time eSports professional gamer.

Pros of Becoming an eSports Professional Gamer

Prize Money: The growth of the eSports industry has brought in a lot of revenue through sponsorships, advertising and streaming opportunities which has helped eSports tournaments to offer more prize money to players. eSport gamers now have the opportunity to make a living from eSports games and the top players make more than 6 figures in USD on an annual basis easily.

Lim "Boxer" Yo HwanLim “Boxer” Yo Hwan started gaming professionally when eSports were still evolving in the first half of 2000’s.

He is regarded as the best Starcraft: Brood Wars player.

His annual income exceeded $300,000 annually during the early 2000’s. Compared to his earnings back then, the prize money awarded in mid 2010’s has jumped exponentially. Dota 2 tournaments are paying out more than a million dollars in individual prizes to winners.

eSports players also have multiple ways of making revenue. They no longer need to depend on winning an eSports tournament to take home a pay-check as they now have the opportunity to earn money by streaming their games. There is a huge eSports audience watching players play on video streaming platforms like Twitch.tv. However the money earned from streaming depends on the amount of followers and viewers watching a channel. So famous eSports players end up making a lot more money and their annual revenue from eSports streaming viewership can be over a million.

Popular eSports teams and gamers also make money by developing and selling merchandise. Their fans are eager to buy merchandise such as shirts, caps and posters. Most of the top eSports gamers develop their own merchandise and user their social media accounts to market their merchandise to their wide base of fans who are more than happy to buy from their favourite eSports players.

While it is easy for the top eSports players to make hundreds of thousands of dollars and even millions from eSports gamers, the lesser known players find it difficult to make a consistent living playing eSports games as the market is getting more competitive by the day.

Decision Making Skills: Most of the major eSports today are extremely complex and fast paced. A study was conducted in which 50 players played the game Sims 2 and 50 players played the game Call of Duty. It was found that players who played the fast paced Call of Duty game made decisions 25% faster than those who played Sims 2. Another study found that playing strategic and role playing video games helped teens and young people make better decisions, improved their problem solving abilities and increased their academic grades.

Social Interaction: Contrary to popular stereotype that people who play video games live in isolation, a study has found that gamers are more social than non gamers and are also more adept at multi-tasking. Video games can be a great way to improve your social life. You are either playing games with your friends at home or you are playing games online with players. eSports has turned into a global phenomenon and allows gamers to compete with players from all over the world. Professional gaming is a great way to meet, converse and build friendship with people from all over the world and to learn about various cultures and backgrounds. There are a number of professional eSports teams that comprise of members from around the world.

Another great way to meet more like minded people is when players set up a Local Area Network (LAN) before a tournament. LAN brings together players, living locally and participating in the same tournament to compete and become better before the tournament. In a sense they are simulating the actual tournament in a local setting and lots of long term friendships are formed during such interactions.

Global Fame: With so many viewers watching the games and tournaments, there are numerous sponsors lining up to sign eSports gamers and offer financial sponsorship that allows one to earn a living and live a comfortable life. When a sponsor signs an eSports gamer, they also take on the responsibility of promoting that player and giving them numerous opportunities and a platform to gain global fame.

mason cobbOne of the best Call of Duty players, Mason Cobb experienced fame at a young age and had the opportunity to travel extensively, meet famous people and see his face plastered on billboards and packages.

The more well known and famous an eSports gamer becomes, the easier it becomes for him or her to make a living.

Global Travel: eSports tournaments are being held all over the world and professional gamers have the opportunity to visit different countries when they participate in these tournaments. Premier Dota 2 tournaments are held in countries like China, Germany, Philippines and the US. League of Legends tournaments are held in countries like Singapore, Brazil, China and America. Apart from tournaments there are many gaming festivals that take place, such as the Dreamhack festival which takes place in Sweden. In such festivals, tournaments of various games are held along with live concerts, expos and digital arts competitions. Thus becoming a professional eGamer is a great way to travel the world.

Improved Hand Eye Coordination: Research has indicated that gaming improves hand eye coordination. Studies have shown that a gamer has better hand eye coordination over a non-gamer when both are put in unfamiliar situations. eSports gamers are reported to be able to grasp and respond faster in such situations as well. Such improved hand eye coordination can benefit a gamer in numerous situations and also be life changing as in averting an accident while driving a car.


Investment Of Time: It is no secret that professional gamers spend considerable amounts of time practising and honing their skills, learning new ways to strategize with their teammates. A typical eSports player gets up late in the morning and starts a session around noon which could be streaming eSports lessons with their viewers on popular streaming platforms or practising by themselves. This usually winds up around 4 pm after which they start playing eGames till midnight. They grab a quick bite and get back to live streams till early in the morning before they call it a night. The intense training schedules can cause neglect of close family and friends.

Some games can be single player games, and spending long hours practising and playing these games can lead to social isolation. Another issue that professional gamers face is the short career span in eSports. Professional players perform at their peak till their mid to late 20’s and this age factor also weighs down upon them, which makes them work even harder. It has been noticed that older players, even though they have the experience, have slower reflexes and decision making abilities.

Battling Health Issues: Sitting for too long can lead to a host of health issues, including eye problems and back problems. Practicing continuously also limits a player’s outdoor activities which can make the player obese due to a lack of movement and exercise. The constant stress on gamers’ thumbs and wrists can lead to strain injuries to the muscles and the nerves in both hands. There are other health issues like carpal tunnel syndrome and tennis elbows caused by extensive gaming. Carpal tunnel syndrome puts pressure on the wrist and the median resulting in numbness and severe pain. nerve in the wrist causing pain and numbness while a tennis elbow will cause the elbow to become extremely sensitive and sore. Gamers also battle trigger fingers which give cause a permanent bent shape to fingers. This is one injury that is becoming increasingly common amongst gamers.

Another serious issue is the rampant use of energy drinks which contain stimulants like caffeine and sugar, which gamers consume regularly to remain alert. Taking excessive amounts of such drinks can cause a host of diseases including high sugar and game time jitteriness. Gamers should exercise regularly and maintain a healthy balance between gaming and spending time with family and loved ones to ensure that they do not get trapped into the a stressed filled life

eSports Vs Daily Fantasy Sports

Daily Fantasy Sports: Overview

daily fantasy sportsDaily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are a shortened version of fantasy sports in which players pick a team of professional athletes to compete in a competition or a league usually under a salary cap.

The players earn money and points based on the actual statistical performance of the athletes in their team. Unlike normal fantasy sports which are season long, the contests in DFS are short in duration, lasting from one day for some sports to a maximum of  two or three days for other sports. Players play with real money.

Athletes are assigned monetary values based on their real world appeal. Players draft athletes into their team but cannot exceed their salary cap when selecting their choice of players. Even though each draft is independent, two players can have the exact same team.

Payments are cleared immediately at the end of the contest. Companies offering DFS charge a fee for players to play and also earn money from commissions based on player earnings.

Daily Fantasy Sports: Betting Formats

There are different formats of play offered by DFS companies. There is a “Double-up” or “50/50” in which players earn double their entry fees amount if they place within the top 50% of all participants. Head to head competitions pits two players against each other, usually of their choice. Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) have tiered payouts depending on finishing in different percentiles or ranks. There are other formats also offered like Triple/Quadruple/Quintuple Up’s and Sit-N-Go’s.

DFS is a relatively new phenomenon having started five years back but has gained strong momentum during the last two and a half years. The popularity of DFS is mostly seen in America and Canada though similar versions are offered in other countries. DFS exists for a variety of games including Baseball, Golf, American Football, Hockey and Football.

Top Daily Fantasy Sports Providers

The market is currently dominated by two main companies which account for 95% of the total transactions that take place. FanDuel is a spinoff of Scotland based prediction market game Hubdub and was launched in July 2009. Boston based DraftKings was launched in February 2012. Seeing the immense potential of DFS, both these companies received the backing of venture capitalists and are now valued at more than $1 billion. Even big sports leagues such as the Major League Baseball have invested in DraftKings. Both these DFS companies are promoting themselves aggressively to gain a wider customer base. DraftKings signed a deal with ESPN in early 2016 worth $250 million which will allow the company to advertise on the ESPN networks.

There are other companies which have ventured into DFS including Fantasy Aces and Yahoo Sports, though they are much smaller in size when compared to DraftKings and FanDuel.

Is The DFS Industry Similar To Casino Games?

The DFS industry is currently facing a number of challenges and lawsuits especially in America. One such dispute is whether DFS constitutes gambling which is based on chance or is it a sport based on skills. People who consider DFS as gambling argue that players are essentially making bets based on various statistical outputs of a player’s performance. Further bets are also made on a player’s chances of performing well, since even the best of athletes may have off days.

They argue that when chance comes into the equation then it constitutes gambling. On the other hand, DFS proponents consider it as a game of pure skill as decisions are made based on knowledge of the sport as well as a players performance at that particular time and also due to the fact that the selection of these players is limited to salary caps.

DFS Providers Facing Litigation In The U.S

The DFS market in America is monitored by the respective states and recently a number of states including New York, Nevada, Texas and Idaho banned DFS operators from offering paid for cash games as they deemed that the DFS industry violated the state’s laws on online gambling. These states have stated that DFS games are not games of skill or sports and hence DFS operators must obtain a gambling license if they want to provide paid for cash games in their respective states. The ban on the DFS industry has now forced a number of other states to turn the scanner on the DFS industry and DFS providers could soon be banned in a number of other states before the end of this year.

In Canada, DFS has still not fallen under the category of gambling even though legal experts agree that DFS is a game of both skill and chance and therefore constitutes as gambling.

Are DFS Games Based on Chance or Skill?

A second reason why DFS is under scrutiny is because of the skill levels of certain DFS players, or DFS pros as they are called which are so high that winning against them is nearly impossible. Data shows that these DFS pros constitute 1.3% of all players but pay 40% of entry fees and have won 91% of the total profits. The data also reveals that 5% of the players are those that pay 36% of the entry fees, paying on average $3,600. Of this amount, they lose $1100. Stats  also reveal that 80% of all the players that play, bet a small amount, generally under $50 and always loose half of this amount. Chances are that players who loose frequently will stop playing when they realize that they will always loose.

A scandal broke out in 2015 when it was alleged that employees working for the two companies, FanDuel and DraftKings made profits from inside information. One employee of DraftKing had used inside information to make $350,000 on a FanDuel contest. Both companies have now barred their employees from participating in DFS.

While a number of countries and states across the globe have taken steps to ban the DFS industry due to the fact that DFS games constitute gambling and violate their gaming law, DFS players have taken to using proxies to bypass security features and access DFS games. DFS providers are now faced with the challenge of upgrading their software to ensure that this does not happen or else they could end up facing more lawsuits.

DFS Market Opportunities in Europe

While DFS has faced challenges in the United States, the industry as a whole has flourished as the global market for DFS games has continued to grow significantly. One of the biggest markets for DFS games is in Europe. FanDuel and DraftKings have yet to enter the European market mainly due to the on-going legal issues that the two companies are facing in the US. Should these two DFS giants enter the European market, it would significantly boost the European DFS industry as gambling continues to be very popular in the EU.

The gambling market in the UK is estimated to be around 1.2 billion pounds. Even though fantasy sports like season long soccer leagues are offered in Europe, the largest being the English Premier League, there are no major European operators currently offering DFS. Therefore an exciting opportunity exists for a major provider to setup a DFS base in Europe and gain a strong foothold in the EU.

Difference Between Daily Fantasy Sports And eSports Formats

Both DFS and eSports are projected to grow exponentially in the next few years. There are quite a few differences between the two. The biggest difference is in the mode through which revenue is earned. DFS companies earn money when players pay to play and also through commissions earned on the prize money. In eSports, money is earned through advertisements streaming the game on video platforms and through selling in-game content.

It is argued that DFS could be considered gambling since victory is based on both skills and chance. eSports on the other hand requires skill to win and the element of chance is removed. Players spend hours honing their skills in the eSports industry and their performance is directly related to how well they play.  However in DFS games, a player depends on his fantasy athlete’s performance that he selected via a salary cap.

One of the reasons why the DFS industry is facing so much scrutiny is because of the failure of DFS games in communicating with its target audience. It now appears that both DraftKings and FanDuel were so focussed on earning revenue that they forgot to educate their audience about why DFS is a game of skill.

eSports Industry Should Enforce Better Policies

eSports currently does not face any threat of being termed as gambling but eSports companies would do themselves good by learning from the mistakes of the DFS industry. Effort should be made to educate audiences on all aspects of the eSports industry, especially highlighting facts as to why it is not a form of gambling.

Issues like fair play and having  a zero tolerance policy for cheating should also be enforced so that the industry remains as scandal free as possible. Some of the issues that need addressing including eSport players not being allowed to use artificial means to improve their performances. Players should be prevented from altering their statistics which represents how good they are and eSports platform should be transparent and follow best practices related to matters of finance and technology.

The DFS industry has recognized the potential of the eSports industry and is slowly offering DFS based on popular eSports games. It was only in September 2015 that FanDuel acquired DFS service AlphaDraft and DraftKings started offering contests for the 2015 League of Legends World Championships.

How To Become A Professional eSports Gamer

become a pro eSports gamerThe eSports industry has come a long way since its early beginnings and has now turned into a global sport that has made it a viable career option for a lot of gamers, especially those that are good at playing.

The prize money is increasing in tournaments as some tournaments are now awarding more than a million dollars in individual prize money. To become a professional gamer one has to:

Pick A Game And Practice Diligently

Becoming a professional gamer requires a lot of dedication and takes up a lot of time. To become a professional gamer the first step is to decide what game you want to become an expert in and spending enough time to learn everything you can about the game. Practice comes only when you start to play the game and the more time you spend playing it, the better you will end up becoming.

Gamers should play the game against skilled and more talented players. Services like Xbox live allow you to play against such players. Gamers should strive to study the best players and learn different tactics and strategies involved in their game. Professional players have a very strict and regimented schedule in which they practice for at least 6-8 hours each day especially during the gaming season.

It is also essential that a gamer practices smartly by working on their weaknesses and by not trying to advance their game too much by focusing on too many details.

Tyler eSports player Tyler “Teepee” Polchow is a great example of a player who was diligent with his preparation. He was part of the team which won the Call of Duty World Championships in 2014 and would practice with his team for more than 8 hours every day.

Stay Motivated

Keeping a goal in mind, be it winning a major tournament or winning a particular amount of money is essential. By setting a specific goal, a gamer will not feel burnt out and there will be a stronger desire to excel. One should also strive to have a life outside of gaming. This will give the gamer much needed respite from the hours of practices that they pour into eGames.

Many gamers in their quest to stay professional and become an expert, often alienate their family by spending hours playing eGames and not investing time in their personal relationships. It is important for eGamers to strike a right balance and invest in their personal relationships as it helps them focus better when their personal lives are in a good space.

Diego "Quas" RuizTeam Liquid player Diego “Quas” Ruiz says that he and his team spend a minimum of 50 hours per week practising.

Meal time is usually spent reviewing and strategizing.

Some players including him take time out to chat with friends and family members which gives him a much needed break.

Others in his team do not do that. For him practice sessions are more about quality rather than quantity.

Join A Team Or A Gaming Community  

Practising by yourself will only take you so far. Once a gamer starts getting better, it is essential that the gamer joins a community. Taking inputs from others and having discussions on strategies are some ways that a community will benefit a player’s game. Almost all professional gamers are part of a community. One should learn the rules of the community before joining.

Since most eSports are team games, building your own team or joining a team becomes essential once you start playing well. Communities can be a great way to find strong eGames and help build a team.

Play As Many Tournaments As You Can

Competing in tournaments is a great way to determine how good you are. Start with local tournaments. As you become better at competitions, you should progress to bigger tournaments. The top of the line tournaments are the pro-circuit events. There are many tournaments played all year round. Winning at competitions not only earns you respect but also earns you money.

This is also a good way to get noticed for possible sponsorship. The sponsors then provide you with all the required facilities to compete, including a place to practice and bear your travel expenses when you compete in tournaments. Generally these sponsors also pay you, though the amount paid varies from sponsor to sponsor.

Aleksey "White-Ra" KrupnykAleksey “White-Ra” Krupnyk, from the Ukraine spent a lot of his free time playing games on computers in the 1990’s.

Since he did not have a computer at home, he joined a PC club.

As he got better he started beating other club members. He then graduated to beating members from other clubs and ultimately started competing online with players from South Korea. He said joining a team is essential to make it to the top.

Once he came onboard a team, he was paid $24,000 a year, not including prize money he won, and was also flown to different parts of the world to compete in big tournaments.

Stay Physically Fit

Gamers are realizing the importance of being physically fit. They realize that being physically fit and health conscious will keep them mentally sharp and focussed. Games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive or Smite or League of Legends are long drawn out games and playing these games in competitive environments such as a major tournament can lead to fatigue, which then causes mistakes and misplays.

Stimulants like caffeine can do more harm than good. They can give you jitters when you need to be really focused. It is best to keep one’s energy levels high by eating better, getting enough sleep and performing light exercises.

Mike "Flamesword" ChavesMike “Flamesword” Chaves who plays for the team OpTic Gaming, is one such gamer who realises the benefits of being physically fit.

In statement, Chaves said

Sitting down all day is terrible for the body, yet that’s what I do for a living. So exercise is crucial for the mind, for the body, and for feeling relaxed. I’ve seen my greatest success since I started really working out and keeping fit a few years ago

He was referring to the four world championships he has won since he started exercising, compared to the zero he had won before that. While travelling, he has designed four minute, high intensity workouts which can be performed in the hotel itself to offset the negatives of sitting and playing eight hours straight in a competition. These four minute workouts have also become popular on you tube.

Flamesword’s dedication to physical fitness has started impacting his team mates in a positive way. One of his team mates Marcus “MBoZe” Blanks was 360 pounds but has dropped down to 280 pounds, thanks to a fitness regime laid out by Flamesword and also to strict dieting. According to MBoZe becoming fitter has helped him become more alert and focused.

So if you are interested in pursuing a career in eSports gaming, following the above steps is a great way to prepare for becoming a professional eSports gamer.

The Rise of Women Gamers

Rise of Women GamersSurveys show that even though women are active gamers their number falls disproportionately low when it comes to their participation in eSports.

In eSports the fan base continues to be approximately 90% male dominated, whereas in the larger gaming community women make up 45%-50% of the target audience.

In a survey of three tournaments that were held during a period of one year, eSports production company WellPlayed found that of the total participants, 2040 participants were male and only 69 participants or approximately 3% were females. The disparity in eSports is huge but things have been improving in recent times as more female players have shown an interest in eSports.

AnyKey, an organization that promotes diversity in eSports conducted its own research during the Intel Extreme Masters Tournament where players compete in Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) and League of Legends (League) games. Their researchers found that of all the people attending, CSGO had 8% women in attendance whereas League had 15% women in attendance.

Sexism Does Exist In The eSports Industry

eSports in some societies is considered masculine therefore men are more often encouraged to pursue these sports. Even though the barrier for women in eSports is comparatively less when compared to other traditional sports, female players are subjected to harassment by their male counterparts. Women players are not taken seriously by their male counterparts and tend to get judged more by their physical appearance. Women players who overachieve are labelled as frauds or cheaters. The general perspective is that if a team with women players looses, the loss is blamed on the women, and if the team wins, the victory is credited to the male players.

Studies have shown that men who perform poorly tend to harass female players more. These men are often submissive in front of better skilled male players. They feel less threatened by male players and it would not be wrong to assume that these players feel a lot more threatened by female players.

Marketing Incentives Favour Male Players

Specific marketing campaigns by companies are another reason in creating this imbalance. The core audience for eSports is mostly male between the ages of 21 to 34, and the size of this audience is growing year on year. It is this target audience that marketing agencies are focusing on. For eSports marketing agencies, the benefits and gains that they can derive by targeting a female audience would be extremely limited and as a result these companies do not have the incentive to expand their target market.

Remuneration Disparity Hurting Female Players

Katherine "Mystik" GunnThere is a huge pay disparity in the eSports industry as well. eSportsearnings.com lists money made by eSports players and clearly reveals a huge disparity between the earnings of male players and female players.

Amongst female eSports players, the site lists Katherine Gunn, who goes by the player id Mystik, as the number one female player with the highest overall earnings of $122,000.

Amongst the male players, the highest earning player was Peter”ppd” Dager, whose overall earnings was more than $2 million. In fact, as can be seen on the site the top 284 male players earned more than what Katherine Gunn earned.

The New Rise of Women Gamers

Seo "ToSsGirL" Ji-soo The silver lining is that the number of female eSports players is slowly increasing and their market is expanding at a steady pace. Korean player Seo “ToSsGirL” Ji-soo maintained a 100% victory record in all of the female only tournaments that she participated in.

Her other achievement was that she was at one time the only woman to compete in the Korean professional gaming scene.

Another female player who goes by the name of Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn has won a major gaming tournament which was open to all i.e. she competed successfully against men.

Women Gamers Collaborating To Make A Bigger Impact

Stephanie "missharvey" HarveyNow new development in the eSports industry is that women are now uniting and forming women only teams. Stephanie “missharvey” Harvey founded CLG Red, an eSports team which provides tough competition to high-caliber male teams.

Like their male counterparts, female teams also have intense training sessions where they hone their skills, strategise and learn tricks and techniques by watching other teams from around the world.

Tournaments that were traditionally open only to males are now changing their acceptance criteria. A tournament held in Finland where participants compete to qualify for the International eSports Federation World Championships, which was open only to male players, changed their acceptance criteria and created two categories; one event was created which was a female only event and another event was created which was open to everyone.

Increase In Industry Promotions Targeting Female Players

Now eSport companies have made an attempt to try and increase the participation of women in eSports. French eSports company Oxent is one such company. The company is providing an opportunity to women by holding a number of women only tournaments for games like Counter Strike. They also hosted a special League of Legends tournament for women with prize money fixed at $25,000. The company received applications from dozens of teams, from which it selected the top teams, who then participate for the grand prize. Other gaming companies such as Counter-Strike, Dead or Alive 4 and StarCraft II have started their own female only tournaments.

Female Players Taking On More Responsibility

Tammy "furryfish" TangOne of the best tools for more women players and women only tournaments is by launching specifically targeted promotions and through education. Women players themselves are now taking the initiative upon themselves to use similar strategies to promote eSports and bring in more female gamers.

Tammy “furryfish” Tang, from the all female team Dota-2 runs the Female Dota 2 website which connects teams to potential gamers and educates potential gamers with all aspects and nuances of the gaming industry.

The High School Starleague supports students in the US in setting up gaming clubs. Girls make up approximately 7% of the membership and this number is rising. There is also effort to promote the game in the general community through which female involvement is expected to rise.

Organizations like AnyKey advance the cause of diversity in eSports. The organization is currently focussing on increasing participation of female players in the sport by providing a better platform for women gamers and by providing resources to female gamers to allow them to compete.

Bringing In More eSports Female Players

It is hard for women to compete effectively in the eSports world today. In an ideal world, there would be no difference between male and female players and the sport would be integrated completely. There would be no separate women only tournaments or women only teams. Rather mixed teams and women only teams will compete with male only teams.

To attract more women, game designers should focus on the female audience when designing their games. The eSports worlds needs female champions who put in top performances and win on a regular basis so that they can become role models and promote the eSports globally. This will also open up marketing and sponsorship outlets for women in the industry.

In order to increase diversity in the eSports industry and bring in a bigger female player and fan base, efforts have to be made by key stakeholders such as eSports organizations, associations, marketers and players.

How The Media Has Helped The Growth of eSports

eSports Media BroadcasteSports has had a meteoric rise in terms of player participation; viewership and prize money involved in the game, which has resulted in the industry providing stiff competition to online casino and online poker industry.

Though traditional media has still not really caught the eSports bug, online video streaming and social media platforms have played a huge role in promoting and growing the eSports industry.

The Power Of Online Video Streaming Media

Online viewership of eSports tournaments has been the biggest reason for the growth of this industry. Whereas traditional platforms are available locally, online platforms can handle large-scale live audiences on a global scale. These platforms have the ability to aggregate audiences from all over the world and provide a scale which traditional platforms are unable to achieve. Some of the popular and upcoming video streaming platforms that had made an impact in the eSports industry are:

Twitch.tv: This video streaming platform is relatively very young in terms of its establishment but is the most popular and powerful eSports video streaming platform as of now. The platform was introduced in 2011 with a focus on the broadcast of eSports and online gambling. Within a couple of years the company recorded around 45 million unique viewers. By 2015 this number had jumped to 100 million viewers. The company was bought by Amazon in 2014 for $970 million. Twitch.tv’s value proposition is that anyone can setup a stream, be it individual players or game publishers or companies hosting tournaments.

The company earns money through advertisements that are displayed while streaming of these live gaming events. The scale of video streaming is massive and at its peak load the platform can broadcast 1.5 million streams. The company has formed strong partnerships with advertisers who pay money for their advertisements to be displayed before a global audience during a live stream.

Mlg.tv: Major League Gaming, which hosts eSports tournaments was launched in 2014 and has its own game streaming platform called Mlg.tv. This platform offers premium content only and makes surfing the channel easier. The company differentiates from Twitch.tv by streaming content of a player who either has a large fan following or belongs to a professional team. This way the company attracts consumers who are more dedicated and loyalists.

In the first quarter of inception, the platform saw a 1367% growth in viewership. Another reason for the platform’s growth is the exclusivity contracts that Mlg is signing with video game publishers to stream their games and tournaments like it did with Call of Duty makers Activision. Like Twitch.tv, Mlg.tv also earns money for itself and for the streamers through advertisements. By focusing on premium content, which limits the number of streams broadcasted, the company can also work with their partners to enhance the product by adding beneficial features and removing unwanted features.

Azubu.tv: This is the latest video streaming entrant on the block. This platform was launched in 2011 but will now re-launch an upgraded video streaming platform after it secured a $34 million investment from venture capitalists. The platform, like Mlg.tv will be broadcasting premium content and earning money through advertisements. The company is entering into partnership agreements with game publishers for exclusive rights to broadcast their games. To manage these partnerships, the company has hired ‘eSports Managers’ who are veterans in the eSports world. The question remains whether the company will be able to succeed against Twitch and Mlg as they have a significant portion of the market share already.

Leveraging Social Media Platforms To Promote eSports

Twitter & Facebook:

Social Media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are extremely important tools for eSports promotions. Many teams and individual players have joined these platforms and have attracted a huge number of followers. The larger the fan following in social media, the easier it becomes for companies to sell their merchandise and for eSports games to attract sponsorships. The additional money generated via these social media channels helps to provide better infrastructure for both the teams and the players.

Twitter has launched a gaming hub dedicated exclusively to gaming. Here people can talk about a new game, an eSports gamer, discuss the latest in eSports news and tournaments or follow their favourite eSports games. Eventually this hub can also hold question and answer sessions with people from the gaming community including players, developers and studios.

Snapchat & Instagram

Other popular platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram are also gaining popularity and acceptance in the eSports community. These platforms are adding huge value to the eSports brands and gaining a large number of eSports followers each month. Snapchat is a mobile application that is used to share photos, videos and texts where messages destruct within 10 second. The platform is also being tried out by gamers to see the response when they stream events.


Platforms like Periscope are also slowly being used to broadcast live streams or have videos conversations. Unlike Snapchat where messages are available for upto 10 seconds maximum, broadcasts in Periscope are available for 24 hours. People can join a broadcast and perform different actions like liking it (similar to Facebook), or commenting on it, or sharing it. Twitter recently purchased Periscope and has plans to expand and growth the platform in a huge way in the coming months.

Exclusive eSports Platforms

A number of new platforms dedicated exclusively to eSports have also been launched of late. Platforms like player.me which was developed by gamers allows community stakeholders such as players, groups and companies to discover, share and collaborate with their counterparts.

Another platform called Blab.im allows four people to video chat simultaneously while making the entire video chat available to an audience in real time.

Traditional Media Slowly Paying Attention To eSports

Traditional media outlets such as TV channels and sports reporting companies have been largely absent in their coverage of eSports. Traditional media is finding it hard to come to terms with the concept of eSports as a sport. In the past, the president of ESPN publicly stated that eSports is not a game but a tournament. Another ESPN anchor publicly stated that he would quit his job if he had to cover an eSports tournament.

Media Companies Now Getting Involved with eSports

However things are slowly changing as the eSports industry continues to grow in popularity. Traditional media outlets are forced to recognize the potential of the eSports industry and the viewership it has garnered across the globe. ESPN has now set up an eSports page on its website. The company has also decided to cover popular tournaments like the Heroes of Storm and The International tournaments.

Turner Broadcasting will form a league on Counter Strike: Global Offensive which will be aired on Friday nights for 20 weeks in 2016. In Oct 2015, the BBC broadcasted the quarterfinals of the League of Legends World Championship. Another media company, Modern Times Group, based out of Sweden has realized the potential of eSports and purchased a 74% ownership stake in ESL’s parent company, Turtle Entertainment GmbH. The company also purchased full ownership of DreamHack, the largest live gaming event on the planet.

Mutually Beneficial Partnership

Opinion is still divided on whether traditional media should cover eSports. Traditional loyalists oppose it and that is one of the reasons for the delay in getting traditional media to embrace the eSports industry. Even though eSports has risen tremendously without tradition media’s support, engagement from traditional media will bring the sport more worldwide acceptance and publicity.

Traditional media stands to benefit from its coverage of the eSports industry as it is bound to attract a younger viewership across a global scale while eSports stakeholders will benefit from the extra coverage of traditional media outlets resulting in more sponsorships, bigger tournaments, higher prize money and larger audiences.

The Role Of Design and Distribution in eSports

esportsWith the advances in technology and the rising popularity of eSports, a lot of focus is now being put into the holistic development of eSports games.

Both designers and developers of eSports games are now catering to and incorporating the needs of all the major and diverse stakeholders in the eSports industry, including the players themselves and the spectators who watch the game through different distribution channels.

eSports: The Importance Of Gaming Design

With the growth of the eSports industry, eSports design companies are now placing a huge emphasis on designing games that cater to an international audience. The designers are now incorporating tones, themes and genres to appeal to diverse clients from all over the world. For example, in case of SMITE, the game is incorporating Greek, Mayan and Chinese Mythology as its tone. eSports companies now have the ability to offer these games to a global audience via technologies such as cloud computing and gain a global market share. Hence designers are always looking for ways design new eSports games that have a global mass appeal so that they become popular quickly and bring in significant revenue for their employers.

Some of the biggest and most popular gaming companies are now focusing on designing and providing content that the user/player is demanding. This is done by reading and analysing data and metrics and making changes to the content according to the results of the analysis. Dedicated internal teams and cells within the company monitor and parse the server data before going on to incorporate this information into their eSports games. Rather than coming out with planned sequels, companies are now delivering smaller updates.

eSports Designers: Real Time Feedback & CrowdFunding

Twitch is an online video streaming platform that is focused primarily on video games including streaming of eSports tournaments and shows related to the game. The homepage displays content based on the current viewership. It is now boasting a membership of 120 million viewers in a month. The growing popularity of Twitch in the eSports community has made it important for developers to focus on how these games appear to viewers and incorporate a more enjoyable design for their viewers.

The eSports industry is currently moving towards the crowdfunding model, where small design studios are seeking financial security before committing to a new project. These design studios are streaming development online. They are also releasing previews and beta sites for fans to buy the games and give feedback on the design of the games. The feedback is then incorporated in the game before the official release.

Leveraging Real Time Feedback

One big advantage of this strategy is that the users themselves become the biggest proponents of the games. For example a company called Vlambeer streams its development online. It has 12,000 registered users who are watching the stream. These users have also paid a subscription fee. The revenue generated from this business model is significant and the interaction and the feedback with the audience are invaluable.

Another eSports design company called Matcherino is also using crowdfunding and innovative technology to provide a platform where spectators crowdfund the match they want to see and players competing can decide on whether they want to play that particular game. The demand for such platforms is tremendous with fans having raised pool prizes of $1000. Some fans spend hundreds of dollars to match opponents.

eSports Design Studios: Office Space Rentals

There are a number of smaller design studios who ventured into the eSports industry and ran into financial constraints. As a means of cost cutting, these studios are now renting office space in offices of established eSports developers and sponsors. There are also dedicated offices which offer cheap and affordable space for these developers to setup offices in, allowing them to keep their overhead to a minimum. This is a common occurrence in places like London where design studios like Bristol Games Hub, Arch Creatives and Playhubs have been established. Apart from providing a subsidised office space, the developers from different studios can interact with each other and share designs and ideas.

Virtual reality and Augmented Reality is the next big thing in the world of gaming. Big developers like Google and Microsoft have come out with their own Virtual Reality headsets and are also backing companies who make these headsets.

eSports: Innovative Distribution Strategies

Free 2 Play: Free 2 Play is a popular model which attracts new customers by allowing them to play for free without any commitment. People do not have to pay anything to access these eSports games and play. They pay to customize the game according to their needs and purchase items through transactions that are made while playing the game itself. For example the basic version of League of Legends (LoL) is offered free and the enhancements and rewards offered can be bought for less than $10 each.

For a popular game like League of Legends these small transactions translate to huge earnings because the number of players playing LoL is in the millions. With so many video games offered in the market, Free 2 Play gives a level competing field to game developers, both big and small. The best content sells through this model.

The Free 2 Play business model is gaining acceptance across all platforms including mobile, computers and video game consoles like Playstation and XBox. The pricing flexibility also benefits the customers who can then make purchases depending on their individual level of involvement.

eSports: Games as a Service

eSports and digitalization go hand in hand. eSports that are accessed digitally have multiple benefits when compared to traditional games that are bought in a retail outlet and were played mostly by single users. Digitally delivered games allow multi-users to play and tend to be more popular these days. Teams which are made of multiple players can also be easily formed and these teams can then go on to compete against multiple teams.

Traditional games relied on big releases which denoted the end of the product life cycle. In eSports technology, updates are small and are delivered instantly. Users can pause the game according to their wish and then return back to the game and play once again from where they left off.

Moving away from free streaming: Video streaming portals such as YouTube and Twitch are now making a lot of money through their streaming services which are offered free of cost to users. Game companies are devising ways to monetise this streaming service for themselves. Revenue sharing programs with users are now being introduced. For example, Major League Gaming has added subscriptions to its sport streams.

Move to control Intellectual Property: Video Game publishers are now focusing on managing their own tournaments, taking control away from independent organizers like gaming leagues. Riot Games, the developers of popular eSports games such as the League of Legends, Activision-Blizzard, the developers of World of Warcrafts and Call of Duty and Valve, the developer of the highly popular Dota 2 are three such companies who have taken on the responsibility of organizing and promoting their own eSports tournaments as it is far more profitable than outsourcing it to a eSports organizer.

Television Channels: While television is still the biggest global distribution, it has taken awhile for eSports to gain sufficient popularity to be picked up by television channels. These days eSports have a strong global following and popular television channels such as ESPN and the BBC have started broadcasting tournaments albeit in their secondary channels. Pay per View events, which are very popular in traditional sports is another yet, another distribution strategy that might work especially for the top eSports tournaments.

Guidelines Protecting eSports Players

ethics in eSportsEthics in eSports applies to businesses sponsoring games and competitions and to individuals and teams who compete.

Like conventional sports, eSports is also facing multiple ethical challenges and dilemmas when it comes to performances in the field.

When two players from the same team are pitted against each other in a competition, then a potential conflict of interest occurs when one player does not put in his or her best effort and allows the player to win.

Manipulating The Playing Field

The looser in such a case puts his team above himself. This situation was encountered in the 2013 MLG tournament when two team members, Paulo “CatZ” Vizcarra and his teammate Sam “Kane” Morrissette were pitted against each other and CatZ decided to forfeit his match and allow Kane to advance. CatZ’s loss was for his team’s cause. There were disagreements and arguments amongst the public about the decision, but CatZ’s withdrawal was open to public knowledge and within the tournament rules.

Another ethical conflict arises when two team members are competing against each other and one player who has already advanced to the next round plays below his full ability, thereby allowing his team mate to also win and advance to the next round. In the 2014 GSL Season 3 Eo “soO” Yoon Su who many considered the best player in the world was paired off with his team mate Lee “INnoVation” Shin Hyung.

soO had already reached the next round and there were fears that he might underperform and let INnoVation move to the next round. Unlike in CatZ’s case, it would be difficult to prove that the loser deliberately played below par and lost for his teammates cause.

The Role Of Performance Enhancing Drugs

There is rampant use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED) in the world of eSports which poses another serious ethical challenge. The use of drugs like Adderall and Ritalin which are used to treat issues of the Central Nervous System and alter chemical composition in the brain are now being used by players to attain more self-control and achieve more focus.

Then there are drugs like beta-blocker propranolol which block the release of adrenaline in a person during pressure games causing him or her to remain calm under moments of pressure while performing. Selegiline, a drug used to treat Parkinson’s, is used as a PED because it improves a player’s mood and helps with motivation. It has been noticed that players pop these pills an hour before the competition. Though use of these drugs is unregulated in the eSports industry and many can be obtained legally it still creates an uneven playing field.

It makes spectators wonder whether the most qualified person won or not. Apart from the serious side effects that these drugs pose, there is a possibility of escalation in the usage of these drugs such that players start taking a higher dosage than the recommended allowance thereby causing severe injury to themselves.

The Impact Of Match Fixing

Match fixing issues in which a player takes money to underperform and lose is another threat that the eSports world is facing. Recently eSports betting site Pinnacle Sports accused a player for having thrown his match. The player accused, Kan “San” Cho Won was playing against Park “Dark” Ryung Woo. According to the company the bets placed on the match indicated a certain pattern that the match had been rigged. Even though Dark was favoured to win, the company saw some unusually large bets in favour of Dark, which raised suspicion.

To ensure fairness and integrity, the company cancelled all the bets that were made on the match. Again, unless there is hard evidence proving that the match was indeed rigged, it would be extremely difficult to prove otherwise. In this case also, San issued a statement denying any wrong doing attributing the loss to reduced practice time and poor health.

Match Fixing Could Hurt The Popularity of eSports

There have been other instances of match fixing in eSports. A serious match fixing scandal broke out in Korea where players were approached by online betting agencies to throw away games in return for monetary gains. This news was confirmed in May 2010 by Korean news websites and was widely reported all over the world. The consequences from this match fixing allegation resulted in the ban of eleven players along with fines and penalties.

Such instances of match fixing leads to distrust and disappointment in eSports and leaves the public with a feeling of betrayal. It also leads to a loss in reputation of the sport in general and limits the growth of the sport, especially a nascent sport like eSports.

Compromising Business Ethics

Businesses which sponsor players and tournaments and are associated with the eSports industry in general should stress to its stakeholders the importance of ethical conduct. The brand image of the company might take a big hit if any of the stakeholders involve themselves in unethical behaviour. This will have a cascading effect and demoralize staff and management leading to unnecessary finger pointing and loss in productivity. And it might also lead to monetary consequences through loss in revenue from selling merchandise or the inability to procure financing from potential investors.

The Rules & Governance Of eSports

Currently there is no single overarching centralised governing body in eSports. There are various organizations which host and operate eSports tournaments like the ESports League (ESL) and Major League Gaming (MLG). Similarly gaming companies also organize their own professional tournaments.

Some countries have setup national associations for eSports. The Korea e-Sports Association (KeSPA) was setup to manage eSports in Korea. Similarly the United Kingdom eSports Association was setup to govern eSports in the United Kingdom though it later filed for bankruptcy since it owned large sums of money to players and companies.

International eSports Federation

The International eSports Federation (IeSF) was setup in 2008 and is based in Korea. Today it has 42 nations as its members. The association is working to unify the eSports world and to bring all aspects of eSports under the purview of uniform standards. The association is also promoting the eSports Industry by holding tournaments and is also trying to grow its membership by increasing the number of member nations.

In a significant development, IeSF has also released it Anti-Doping Regulations to ensure ethical and fair-play in the sport.

World eSports Council

The World eSports Council (WeSC) has recently been assembled,

as a Professional eSports Association with an objective to unite top business leaders in forming the WeSC eSports Sanctioning Committee; an overarching global governing body for eSports

This committee was established in late 2015 and will be launched on 15 May 2016. The objective of this committee is to bring stability to the industry by providing a platform for the industry to hold discussions to make rules and regulations which will govern and unify the industry.

UK Government Backs An Olympic style eSports Tournament

eGameseSports have witnessed a significant growth in popularity during the last few years.

The number of players playing and competing professionally, the number of viewers watching these games and the overall prize pools awarded have all increased substantially.

A number of countries have taken note of this growth and have started to actively work in promoting this nascent sport. The governments in countries like South Korea, the United Kingdom and Sweden have taken efforts to encourage eSports as they believe the global market for the industry has enormous potential and they would like to establish themselves as leaders in the industry.

Recently the British Government announced a special eSports event will be held and will be similar to the Olympics. This tournament is called eGames and is being touted as the Video games Olympics. A new International eGames Committee (IEGC) has been setup which will run the tournament and the tournament will be backed by the UK government. The International Olympic Committee will help in organizing the event.

The IEGC is a not for profit agency and has been setup to positively shape the future of competitive gaming. The IEGC will setup an International Advisory Board which will assist the IEGC in running the eGames. The International Advisory Board will focus on instilling good governance, responsible gaming and to make the tournament more inclusive and diverse.

The IEGC will also setup an Advisory Board in each country, which will oversee the respective country’s eGames Association and eSports Team. The advisory board members will consist of a mix of individuals coming from eSports, Sports and media industries.

The event will be a biannual event and will played on those years when the Summer and Winter Olympics are held. The eGames will be held in the same country that is hosting the Olympics. This event will start with eSports tournaments. For example, the immensely popular Dota 2 International tournament is being held from 8 to 13 August in Seattle and the Rio games are being held from 5 to 21 August. Therefore some of the organizers believe that these eGames should be held during a time frame where there is no clash of dates. This will be necessary to ensure a good and successful first ever eGames event.

Another concern is on the quality of the teams selected to represent their countries. In general, the top eSports teams around the world comprise of players from different countries. The eGames format will require these teams to disband and then form new teams made up of the same nationalities and will definitely reduce the quality of the teams and ultimately also reduce the quality of the competition.

While concerns remain, the majority in the eSports community welcome the concept of an eSports Olympics and have encouraged the initiative taken by the U.K government. In the past also there have been efforts made to get more recognition for eSports as an Olympics sports. In January 2015 the Korean eSport Association (KeSPA) was able to get an affiliation with the Korean Olympic Committee. This recognition was the first step towards receiving an endorsement from the International Olympics Committee which determines inclusion and exclusion of sports into the Olympics.

Pat the NES Punk

Another effort has been made in the form of the World Cyber Games (WCG), an international eSports event, which is held in line of the Olympics. Nations participate and send teams which compete for national pride. In this tournament the winners receive gold, silver and bronze medals. Similar to the Olympics, the tournament begins with an opening ceremony. But unlike the eGames, the WCG had companies like Samsung as sponsors which invested enough money to ensure that players apart from winning medals, walk away with financial prizes as well.

The U.K continues to push and promote the eSports industry and tournaments like the eGames. The UK is expected to benefit immensely from this decision as it already has a large eGaming population and the Olympic style eGames event will help to increase the size of its market significantly.