For most sports, they are facing some kind of drop-off in attendance and viewing figures. It would seem for mainstream sports that trying to appeal to a younger generation is proving a challenge. This can even be seen in events like the Olympics who are including more sports associated with youth in order to raise its profile.
So where are these young kiddies hiding? Well, just a few days ago you could find swathes of them at New York’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. The reason? They were there for the Fortnite World Cup final. If it seems almost sacrilegious to associate the term “world cup” with a video game then you probably need to get to the program. This spectacle contained all the elements to warrant the moniker.
The 3-day tournament ended with a 16year-old winner taking home the 3 million dollar first prize. Imagine winning that at 16. The entire tournament had a prize pool of $30 million making it the highest-paid contest in eSports history. (although it could be bested by this year’s DOTA 2 tournament).
Fortnite changing the game
Fortnite has really helped to make waves. The game in its own right is a massive critical and commercial success its free to play business model has proved shrewd making Epic games billions in revenue from microtransactions. With games like this pressing forward with events of this calibre, the conversation should no longer be, is eSports the future of sports, but, what are other sports going to do in order to not get left behind.
Scale of the contest
To give you some idea of the scale of the tournament let’s do a comparison with the recent Cricket world cup. That was contested by 11 nations, each squad had 15 players. Meaning roughly 165 competitors. Fortnite’s player base is about 250 million strong and from that almost 40 million took part in the qualifying phase to try and make it to the recent final 200. Want to know the average age of a finalist? Just 16 years old. That’s where your young players are at!
Because of the format and because everybody had to qualify in the same way it led to some huge upsets. There were several notable gamers who didn’t even qualify for the finals. Take, for instance, pro-player Ninja, the streaming sensation had to settle for a place in the pro-am tournament instead. On the Brightside, he still has cool hair.
The 3-day tournament had something different for every day. It kicked off with the pro-am tournament on Friday, pitting celebrities with pro-gamers. Then on Saturday, there was the doubles contest before rounding off events with the more prestigious singles event on Sunday.
The event streamed live on several platforms, including YouTube and was presented in the way that you would expect a physical sport to be presented. The matches received commentary. There were polished infographics for the gamers. This event effectively showed the world that eSports has arrived.
So on the back of such an exceptional and prestigious tournament what does the future hold for eSports? Well, there is increasing clamour to include eSports in the Olympics in the future and with the Olympic committee recently including events like surfing there is obviously a drive to bring in younger viewers.
eSports clearly has no shortage of followers. 40 million young people entering a single tournament for a single game emphasises just how much clout electronic sports has at the moment. So with that in mind perhaps it isn’t a case of eSports lobbying to be in the Olympics but more the case that the Olympics need eSports to help solidify its future.