eSports Rising: The Future of Competitive Video Gaming

Header 3D rendering of a gaming console in an eSports gaming arena.

The world of sports entertainment is changing fast, and eSports is shaking everything up. The global eSports market was valued at just over $1.08 billion in 2021, almost 50% up on the previous year. This is only the beginning, because eSports is continuing to grow and evolve, amassing more interest as it does so.

Other activities related to eSports are also growing very fast. Broadcasting of eSports has become a very lucrative market too – it’s estimated that, by 2024, there’ll be 577.2 million viewers of eSports worldwide. As you might imagine, eSports betting is taking off at the same time. This is unsurprising considering the multimillion-dollar championships frequently hosted for eSports including the Dota, League of Legends, Counter-Strike and Overwatch. In fact, Borgata Online was the first to offer online sports betting for League of Legends back in 2019.

This makes eSports a very interesting phenomenon to track, whether it’s from an entertainment perspective or to understand the sports betting odds for this up-and-coming market. Let’s take a look at what eSports is today and where it could be headed.

What is eSports?

The term “eSports” essentially describes competitive video gaming when it’s treated as a professional sport. The streaming platform Twitch has more than 100 million monthly active users now, all of whom watch people play games. If you’re new to eSports, you might ask why anyone would want to do that. After all, how much fun can it be to watch someone else play a game?

All sports fans enjoy the experience of being entertained by spectating other people playing their favorite sports. Gamers are the same – they enjoy watching other people play the game that they’re passionate about because that’s what they like to play. It’s the same enthusiasm that drives online sports betting.

The most popular eSports games

Professional eSports video gamer playing an FPS or MMO game on a computer and streaming online.

If you’re interested in how sports betting lines are calculated for eSports, you’ll need some insight into the most popular eSports genres such as Battle Royale, Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, and First Person Shooter games.

What are BR games?

Battle Royale (BR) games pit large numbers of players against each other in a contest of exploration, survival and combat. The battle zone keeps shrinking, forcing players closer to each other. This speeds up the action and heightens the intensity as players adapt their play style to the situation. The suspense is intense as fans wait to find out which two remaining players or teams will ultimately fight to the death. BR games like Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), and Apex Legends are the most played and viewed eSports in the world.

What are MOBA games?

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) is currently a very popular eSports genre, as far as tournaments and online revenue are concerned. Players plan and strategize together in a bid to take on other teams and achieve objectives that boost their experience and power. The two top MOBA titles are League of Legends (LoL) and Defense of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2). They’re responsible for attracting millions of viewers, as well as millions of dollars in eSports earnings. It’s going to be very interesting to see how they will influence online sports betting.

What are FPS games?

Then there are First Person Shooter (FPS) games – the original moneymakers on the eSports scene. FPS tournaments are all about killing opponents or achieving objectives first. FPS fans enjoy watching the action through the eyes of the player’s character. The most popular FPS titles at the moment are Valorant, Call of Duty (CoD), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and Rainbow Six Siege (R6S).

Streaming drives eSports earnings

Illustration of an eSports winner standing on a neon-lit stage, holding a trophy while surrounded by confetti.

The growth of eSports has coincided with a surge in the number of people using streaming platforms globally. It’s especially big in Asian countries such as China and South Korea. What’s different about streaming platforms compared to television is that they’re interactive. Streaming platforms are more immersive, and offer more opportunities for engagement – whether it’s to hit a like button, make a comment, or drop a well-timed emoji into the chat thread. 

Trend researchers in the eSports field expect that games will increasingly adapt to take advantage of streaming. MOBA games including Clash Royale were the first to adopt interactive features, with the result that the games have a much longer life cycle.

Streaming platforms are also driving eSports earnings strongly, according to eSports news. The streamer known as Ninja has more than 50 million followers across his different channels, which earns him more than $10 million a year. With eSports earnings already bigger than traditional sports markets such as WWE, it’s possible they’ll even close in on the NBA one day. If they do, then eSports betting is sure to follow suit.

Taking eSports games to the Olympics

Two eSports teams competing for a trophy in a neon-lit room.

Will eSports reach the Olympics? Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before it does in some shape or form. The 2018 Asian Games already added eSports as a demonstration discipline. This suggests that state-sponsored training programs will be necessary to develop eSports talent, in the same way that China’s Project 119 successfully identified and recruited athletes to boost the country’s chances of success at the Beijing Olympics. 

Olympic status for eSports would make the games even more competitive. It’s widely predicted that players will hone their skills against artificial intelligence (AI) – specifically, multiplayer bots. AI opponents can be built to match the habits of players at the skill level of the player’s choosing. Bots can also imitate the way other professional players move. This would allow for realistic pre-match training.

AI could also provide a training function itself. Bots could be built to substitute for coaches during practice sessions and deliver specific criticisms as and when required. The AI would analyze the players’ environment, opponents, and play style for instant in-game feedback. This kind of analysis isn’t feasible at present, but state-of-the-art CPUs are being developed to run these advanced AI programs.

Training venues are also something to look out for. In China, for instance, eSports earnings have grown so quickly that they’re opening up gaming hotels for younger gamers to develop their skills. It’s a trend that’s expected to grow, especially as universities are starting to offer eSports scholarships that demand high-level gaming skills.

eSports meets VR

Virtual reality (VR) technology has great potential for both viewing and playing eSports. Developers have been calling VR the future of gaming for years, but no VR game has yet achieved the success of Fortnite or CS:GO. A VR equivalent of the Dota 2 International is a mouth-watering prospect, but it’s likely to be some years away.

Spectators, though, could benefit from VR soon. An eSports tournament could easily set up a virtual arena where people could use gadgets such as Google Cardboard to participate on their mobile devices. It’s hard to imagine a more immersive experience. Given sufficient viewer numbers, Facebook might even look into creating VIP VR lounges. Who knows where this industry is headed! The only thing certain is that eSports is inevitably going to get bigger and better.

Discover what online sports betting at Borgata Online’s about

Before you get too excited, while eSports is indeed a global phenomenon, eSports betting isn’t at the same level as competitive sports betting yet. Nevertheless, virtual sportsbook and casino Borgata Online offers a huge array of casino games and sports betting lines right here in the present.  Sign up to enjoy casino games and sports betting online wherever you are, either via browser or our mobile app.