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The Ever-Changing World Of Esports

The Ever-Changing World Of Esports

The Ever-Changing World Of Esports

What Is Esports?

Esports, short for "electronic sports", is a competitive approach to video gaming, organised in tournaments, leagues and championships. Instead of a traditional match, gamers compete in the form of “duels” as an individual or as part of a team. The various competitions (local, national or international) take place either on the internet (online) or during physical gatherings (offline), and are organised and regulated either by the communities of players, by associations or companies that specialise in esports events, or by the game publishers themselves.


The Esports Ecosytem

Contrary to popular belief, esports is not just "sports simulation" video games that mimic real sports activities, such as soccer (Pro Evolution Soccer or FIFA), basketball (NBA 2K), or American football (Madden NFL). Neither is it confined to video games on motion-detecting consoles such as the Nintendo Wii, Kinect for Xbox 360 or the PlayStation Move.

Like sport, which is divided into a multitude of sporting activities, esports is divided into a wide variety of video games types. Besides sports, real-time strategy (RTS), fighting, and collecting cards, there is an ever-growing landscape of genres. And in the same way that sporting activities are divided into disciplines, video games are also sometimes divided into specialties: fast shooting games, tactical, class-based, etc.


The Growth Of Gaming

Not all esports games that have competitive communities enjoy the same visibility. Some of the most high-profile titles, such as League of Legends, DotA 2, Hearthstone or Counter-Strike, have received a lot of media attention. This might be because of their high number of users or broadcast audiences, the prize money on offer or the spectacular aspects of elite competition, or the organisational and financial support of their publisher.

At the same time, however, there is a large majority of games whose competitive scenes evolve in relative confidentiality, bringing together smaller communities (depending on the country), while their media coverage is marginal or even non-existent. Esports therefore offers a particularly challenging environment to engage with. 


Esports A Sport?

Esports gamers, fans and academics would argue that, far from being contradictory, the two contemporary practices of sport and esports can be complementary. This opinion, which has seen significant growth in recent years, is what the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) are reacting to with the Esports Forum. Recent statements on esports by IOC President Thomas Bach and Paris 2024 Olympic Games Committee President Tony Estanguet led the IOC to consider, at the sixth Olympic Summit on 28 October 2017, the recognition of esports as a sport, provided that esports is in line with the Olympic values and that it establishes an international organisation guaranteeing compliance with the rules and regulations of the Olympic Movement (i.e. a federation). The first official meeting between the leading figures of both the Olympic Movement and the esports ecosystem, which will take place during the Esports Forum in Lausanne on 20-21 July 2018, marks a critical time in the future of sport as a whole, as both parties look to explore potential opportunities for further engagement.


Esports Is Turning Pro

Since 2015, it has become increasingly commonplace for professional sports teams to invest in their own esports teams. More than 250 clubs around the world have their own esports team, whether they come from soccer, basketball, American football, handball, ice hockey or Australian football. Some professional sports leagues have also developed their esports equivalents, while many sports personalities - still active or retired - invest financially in esports structures or associate their image with esports. More symbolically, the major media traditionally associated with sport have been offering esports content for a couple of years, either by broadcasting competitions or by creating specialised esports programmes, and some of the largest international esports events are now filling sports arenas and stadiums.


Continued Exploration

Many questions remain relating to the esports ecosystem, including optimisation of elite players, prevention of injury and the detection of future talents, as well as the sustainability of the sport.

In view of these challenges, esports is not so much a revolution as a logical evolution of the cultural and sporting activities of our time, but now, like all new sports, must look at the objectives of creating a sustainable framework and responsible practice. Esports can undoubtedly learn from its traditional counterparts in these areas, and the developing relationship with the IOC and GAISF can only help to transition esports from niche activity to mainstream sport.


The Hosts & Federations Summit is an event dedicated to leaders in the sports industry who want to connect with other influential decision-makers and influencers directly. Learn more >

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