Esports and video game competitions have been around for almost as long as video games have.
The esports scene has exploded in the last few decades, yet it is seen by many as a niche industry.
While it’s true that esports don’t reach the same audience as traditional sports, esports do have a massive worldwide audience.
Major competitions draw millions of viewers from across the world via streaming platforms, and esports players are well-compensated.
Some leagues have modeled their system after traditional sports, with teams having a home base with hardcore local fans.
With more and more people tuning every year to watch esports competitions, esports betting has also gone up.
But before you throw your hat in the ring, it may be useful to know what exactly esports are, and how you can participate.
What Are Esports?
Esports is not that different from traditional ball sports; teams or individual competitors play against each other until a winner emerges.
The esports explanation has to be vague because esports is not a monolithic structure. There are dozens of competitive esports leagues, organizations, games, tournaments, and competitions.
Esports leagues are the major ways that esports organize, with some leagues opting for a tournament structure while others choose to have a traditional season competition.
Some esports prefer the tournament structure, which lends itself to moments of intense gameplay and make-it-or-break-it drama. Fans love tournaments because of the fast-paced matches that can end with top teams going home early.
Esport leagues that compete in season-long competitions are less common, but they have also found success because it allows fans to root for teams throughout a whole season.
That season-long commitment creates a narrative around a team that adds more weight to their wins and losses toward the end of a season. Players welcome this format because they can tune in every week.
Some leagues do a bit of both. The Overwatch League, for example, has a season format where teams compete against each other every week.
However, the OWL recently debuted a that was a major hit among players, teams, and fans.
While the OWL won’t change to a tournament-style format, it seems like they’ll add a few more tournaments throughout the season to shake things up.
Another example is the Call of Duty League.
The CDL has a clever format that is half seasonal competition and half tournament. Every week, one of the 12 CDL teams host a tournament in their city where every team participates in a knockout tournament.
The weekly schedule encourages fans to tune in weekly, and the tournaments add that bit of drama and high-stakes play that fans want, mainly because the tournament winner goes home with a fat check.
Seasons play, however, can also be lucrative for bettors if they are knowledgeable about the league and the individual teams.
Both present exciting entertainment opportunities for fans, while also being exciting for potential bettors looking to use their love of video games to make money.
Why You Should Watch Esports
Whether you play a lot of video games or play just a few hours a month, esports is a different way to experience video games, often by watching professional players accomplish impossible feats.
Professional esports players give regular players a glimpse of greatness, and it allows fans to come together and share an experience.
In other words, esports offers an alternative way to enjoy video games beyond personal interaction.
While not all games have the potential to become an esport, there are different genres of esports that accommodate most video game players.
If you don’t play video games, it can be challenging to know which esport you may like since you won’t have any experience with the game.
First-person shooter games are the most mainstream, while MOBAs tend to attract players who appreciate strategy and teamwork.
Fighting games draw massive crowds as well, with watchers rooting for individual players instead of organizations.
Even traditional sports have esports, where players control whole football, basketball, and soccer teams.
Where Can You Watch?
In the days before sites like Twitch, organizations streamed competitions, which typically resulted in latency-plagued, low-resolution streams that were hard to watch.
These days, there are online platforms where gamers can watch esports matches and popular gaming personalities.
Sites like Twitch and Youtube are the most obvious.
However, esports is becoming more mainstream, appearing even on ESPN and other legacy mediums.
Unlike traditional sports, there is no need for a premium cable subscription to watch all the matches. Fans only need an internet connection to join in on the fun.
Twitch is the undisputed king in video game streaming, despite other big-name competitors who are now trying to move into the streaming space.
While Twitch welcomes many different kinds of content, it’s video games that are the driving force behind the business.
The Amazon-owned company is also the best place to watch your favorite esports.
Most major leagues and tournaments choose Twitch because they are an established platform with years of experience.
Also, gamers already know Twitch, which invites fans to comment via the chat feature. That sense of built-in community brings people together — it also drives them apart when bad actors participate in the chat.
Traditional sports fans can’t chat with others via their TV set when watching a game, which is one way that esports distinguishes itself.
In addition, Twitch’s infrastructure is solid, leading to partnerships that push the envelope in regards to streaming technology.
Players could link their game account to their Twitch profile, and they’d receive currency that could be used to buy cosmetic items in the game that would otherwise have cost real money.
When the Overwatch League streamed their games on Twitch, players could acquire in-game currency just from having a twitch account and watching matches.
Finally, Twitch, apart from working on any browser, has excellent apps for desktops and phones. It’s easy to watch all of their content from anywhere.
YouTube is, well, YouTube. Though it’s perhaps the most prominent video platform in the world, YouTube falls behind Twitch.
YouTube is by no means a bad platform to watch esports, it’s just that Twitch tackles every aspect of video game streaming better.
The one great thing about watching esports on YouTube is that content is immediately archived and easy to find.
YouTube has been pouring more money and resources into its esports and the video game side of the platform, resulting in several high-profile moves of Twitch streamers to Youtube.
On the esports front, YouTube signed a multi-year contract with the Overwatch League for the exclusive rights to air the league’s matches.
Fans, who preferred to watch OWL matches on Twitch, were outraged, and viewership of the league fell when it moved to YouTube.
The move hasn’t been particularly smooth, with a rough few weeks at the beginning of the partnership.
The Google-owned video platform also signed a contract with the Call of Duty League, which is owned by the same company that owns the OWL.
The CDL played its inaugural season on YouTube, so there wasn’t much backlash, but most fans would prefer if the games were on Twitch instead.
YouTube seems invested in esports and video game content, so it’s unlikely that they’ll stop investing in the space.
Watching esports may reinvigorate your love of video games or introduce you to the video game world.
Though there are many leagues and esports to choose from, check them all out to find your favorite.
As a bettor, it’s essential to know which teams and players are considered the best since it can make a difference when placing bets.
New updates to a game can change the way the game functions, so it’s important to also stay on top of new updates. Be attentive, be studious, and watch as many matches as you can.
To cap it off, find the best platform for you, whether that be Twitch or YouTube, and enjoy matches from wherever you are.
Major tournaments sometimes make appearances on TV channels such as ESPN, which is a sign that esports is increasingly becoming more mainstream.
Are there any other essential facts about esports I left out? If so, let me know in the comments.