It’s funny to think about the esports market back in 2019 when it was recognised as a slightly quirky side-piece to real-event sports. At the time, traditional sports didn’t see the need to associate with it, but cue 2020 and 2021, and the world of esports really took off.
In 2022, the esports market was valued at $1.4 billion – nearly a 50% increase in just two years – and by 2030, that market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 21.5% to $6.75 billion.
But this is undoubtedly a rapid and almost spontaneous rise, so you can forgive the world of traditional sports for being slow on the memo.
The Slow – And Then Rapid Fast – Rise Of Esports
In many ways, we should have seen this coming. eSports’ closest online counterpart, the iGaming market, had a similar rise to fame. Back in 2007, it was thought that online casinos were going to die out pretty quickly, with the New York Times even stating that they wouldn’t survive past 2010. But then the first iPhone came along, and the industry gained countless more players across the world, with the market growing by the billions over the next decade. Today, there are thousands of online casinos in operation, with a wide range of casino games that cater to millions of players worldwide.
The same might eventually be true for eSports. Over the last few years, it has shot to stardom, with more and more players and viewers getting involved in the action. While it started off as a simple game, today there are multiple leagues involved in the industry, with the biggest being the ePremier League, the eBundesliga, and the eLa Liga. This has been a great success, with the 2023 ePremier League matches accumulating 237,000 hours watched, with the most-watched event reaching 38,400 viewers.
The Introduction Of Serie A
With the success of esports continuing to climb, the 2022/23 season of Serie A has become both traditional and digital. Infront Italy’s partnership with Serie A has been going strong since 2008, and with Stefano Deantoni’s – marketing director of Infront – innovative view on the future of the sport, he felt like it was time to propose an esports tournament that covered Serie A, the Italian Championship, the Italian Super Cup, and the Italian Cup. According to him, this is a way to “involve the youngest by offering them something that relates to them”.
Although this eSerie A tournament was first proposed in 2020, the 2023 edition of the tournament is its official launch, with face-to-face moments for players, and heavier club participation. The tournament has a first phase in which any gamer can play, and this is then streamlined down to the best of Italy’s amateur gamers.
Rather than play out mainly on Twitch, the organisers have also introduced a “roadshow” to different territories in the hope that the competition can physically reach new supporters, and with a final event where those fans can buy tickets to watch.
How Big Could This Get?
As mentioned before, the market of esports is expected to grow by several billion over the next seven years, and with eSerie A now firmly involved, the community behind this digital alternative could reach unprecedented heights.
For Deantoni, there is no doubt that this is a seismic cultural shift, rather than a blip that will be over before it really gets started.
If anybody needed any evidence of that, you would only need to look at the viewing figures for ePremier League. It’s worth noting that the highest audience came not in the final – which would have received a lot of buzz and marketing – but during a match between Liverpool and Leeds in the first round of playoffs.
This suggests that the rivalry between Leeds and Liverpool in the traditional tournament has carried over into the esports variation. In other words, the people who are investing their time into esports are fans, rather than just gamers getting involved in the hype.
This suggests a definite longevity to the tournament, and with Serie A now fully integrated into the extravaganza, even more fans are bound to be jumping on the train.