With millions of viewers across the world and million-pound prize pools in the top tournaments, esports is growing fast. But just how big is it, and what about esports in Britain?
Esports has enjoyed phenomenal growth in recent years buoyed by the success of big games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch and Dota 2, as well as streaming platforms like Twitch, which allow fans to spectate live.
Twitch pulls in an average of 30m viewers every day,with over 7m unique streamers going live each month.
Here are our top ten stats that show just how big esports has become:
1. There are currently about 222.9m esports enthusiasts in the entire world (Newzoo).
2. Out of the entire world population of 7.79bn people, around 1.9bn (23%) are aware of what esports is (Newzoo).
3. The entire esports audience sat at 495m at the end of 2020, with over half of those only being occasional viewers (Newzoo).
4. The world’s largest esports tournament prize pool is the Dota 2 International, with its available winnings sitting at $30m in 2019 (Valve)
5. Mobile esports has spiked in countries like Southeast Asia, India, and Brazil in 2020, expanding its market dramatically. (Newzoo)
6. The League of Legends World Championships 2020 brought in a record breaking 139m hours in viewership, and peaked at around 3.8m viewers. (DotEsports)
7. In 2020 alone, there was $623.9m worth of sponsorship investments made into esports, which has risen by 17.2% in 2019. (Newzoo)
8. Live esports events brought in around 1209.6m viewers across 25 titles, with League of Legends topping the list. (Newzoo)
9. Whilst esports is continuing to grow bigger each year, physical sports are still quite far ahead in revenue. The European football market is estimated to be worth about £25.1bn in 2020. (Deloitte)
10. The esports industry is expected to generate revenues of over $1556.7m globally by 2023. (Newzoo)
How big is esports in Britain?
While these numbers are impressive, most of them are worldwide. So what about the British esports scene in particular?
According to UKIE data, the esports sector of the UK has grown about 8.5% a year between 2016 and 2019, with it only expected to go up from here.
As well as this, esports provided over 1,200 jobs across the UK in 2019 alone, spread across management, content creators as well as players.
Moreover, it has been calculated that just one global esports event (held in the UK) can generate the equivalent of 238 full-time jobs, as well as £12m in value for the esports sector.
Esports fans across the UK generally follow large global tournaments – some of which are even being held in the UK. For example, the ESL One Birmingham Dota 2 finals, the Call of Duty World league at the Copperbox Stadium – both of which were very well-attended.
At the grassroots level, it’s a different story. The biggest local tournaments include UKLC (League of Legends), and the Rainbow Six Siege UK/NI Leagues.
These usually have prize pools around £10,000 to £20,000 in size – a long way from the million-pound pools that the biggest global tournaments offer.
Britain has produced several professional gamers, however, some of whom are now playing for some of the top teams in Europe.
Overall, esports has become one of the most exciting industries in the world. The future is uncertain on just how big it is going to get, but the only way is up.