Video game competitions are not new by any stretch of the imagination. In October of 1972 there was a gathering of player at Stanford University around the game Spacewar. The prize was a year subscription to Rolling Stone. In 1980 Atari’s Space Invader Championship had 10,000 players and established gaming as a mainstream hobby. In the 1990’s there was the Cyberathlete Professinal League that played around Counter-Strike, Quake and Warcraft.
Jump ahead to now and the audience and revenue reports say that the global Esports market brought in roughly $325 million in 2015 and is expected to make $493 million this year. The estimated audience was around 226 million people. Its now wonder Blizzard has put so much time and effort into building the Esports market and is pushing the new Overwatch League.
Putting the argument of whether this counts as a sport or the players as athletes aside… this is a fast growing global market that other companies are now trying to get involved with. Last year Blizzard launched Heroes of the Storm and with it came the largest North American game tournament called Heroes of the Dorm. The 2016 version brought in teams from 482 different universities. The finals were held on ESPN and offered up as a prize, full college career tuition.
A documentary was made about the event and the build up to the Heroic Four Finals… Blizzard has released that documentary on-line.