Professional video game entertainment and competitions have been on the rise for a couple of years now and the sports industry is starting to notice.
The cross between e-sports and sports is meshing further as multimillion-dollar game and sports organizations are teaming up to bring in fans from both sides, reaching more audiences than ever before.
In the past year there has been a rise of 17 e-sports teams from the NBA like the Golden State Warriors, Miami Heat and the Detroit Pistons. These companies have formed e-sports teams across several games like NBA 2K18 and League of Legends.
The New York Yankees announced in October 2017 that they would be entering a partnership with Vision Esports, who own the majority share in the Echo Fox e-sports team and Twin Galaxies, the video game record tracking company.
Even celebrities known for their involvement in sports are getting involved in e-sports. Drake became a partner of the e-sports organization 100 Thieves, who are backed by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Drake broke into the e-sports world when he played Fortnite with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins while streaming on the platform Twitch. They broke the world record for the most concurrent viewers on a Twitch live stream at the time with 600,000 people watching at the peak of the broadcast.
Fortnite is one of the newest players to enter the e-sports arena. Epic Games released their hit free-to-play game in July of 2017, taking the world by storm shortly after.
Making over $300 million in May of 2018 from in game character skins and “battle passes,” which enable extra challenges to unlock more skins, they have a formula that shot them to the top of the gaming world.
In June 2018, Fortnite teamed up with FIFA to release a set of skins for the Soccer World Cup featuring all 32 teams’ jerseys.
Later in a November 2018 update, Fortnite and the National Football League partnered to release five NFL branded skins in the game that could be customized to all 32 teams from the league.
Epic Games is not sleeping on all this success, committing $500 million in cash prizes for the first year of professional competitions in Fortnite.
Players like Turner “Tfue” Tenney have made several million dollars in the last year through the Summer and Fall Skirmishes held by Epic Games.
Minnesota Twins pitcher Trevor May has also found success in Fortnite, putting in 16-hour days into gaming during his offseason. May has over 240,000 followers on Twitch and is consistently seen playing with high ranking streamers like Tim “TheTatman” Betar.
Betar is known as a Fortnite player but signed a deal with the NFL in 2018 to stream Thursday Night Football on Twitch while he commentates the game.
Twitch enabled an extension for their app and website that allows viewers to predict and vote on success rates of certain plays and a leaderboard is established of voters who answer correctly.
Fifteen years ago, people who played video games and people who played sports typically felt alienated by the other party.
By crossing these boundaries and coming together, both groups are realizing they just like to watch people who are great at something.
We can all appreciate the skill and dedication it takes to reach professional levels in e-sports and sports.
By coming together, we are just ensuring the people and industries we love get to keep on entertaining us.