It may come as a surprise to many people to learn that the vast majority of prize money won in Esports competition this year has been earned by American players.
According to research conducted by Unikrn, players from the USA had earned $7.28 million in 2020 through the month of July.
Yet they don’t have a network television deal in the country for Esports competition. The top players in the respective Esports disciplines aren’t depicted on trading cards. How can they be a big deal if they aren’t on trading cards?
In fact, we’d be willing to place a significant wager at any of the Vegas online sports betting sites that you can’t even name one prominent U.S.-based Esports star.
As Esports continues to make rapid growth each year by leaps and bounds, what’s it going to take for Americans to embrace the concept and begin following the performances of the country’s leading Esports stars?
Americans comprise the largest portion of the worldwide professional Esports rosters. There are at least four times as many Americans competing in Esports than any other country. The USA comes in at around 14,000 professional players. China, the No. 2 country in terms of participants, is only at 4,000 players.
Some of the most famous Esports teams call the USA home. CLG, Cloud9, Evil Geniuses, EchoFox, Dignitas, FaZe Clan – all of these teams are considered to be legendary in the Esports community.
The USA also plays host to a number of top Esports tournaments.
Counter-Strike is the most popular esports game in the United States. It’s played by pro teams located in the country. America is represented by 140 squads which have gained $5,778,110 in prize money.
Taking into account only individual players from the United States, then the most played game in the country would be StarCraft II. There are 239 people playing this esports genre here on a competitive level, with $1,260,959 gained in rewards.
However, getting these elite athletes more recognition from the mainstream media still remains a challenge in the crowded USA sports media markets.
ESPN Buying Into Esports
ESPN, the self-proclaimed world sports leader, has a dedicated Esports page accessible from the network’s web page.
Besides providing information on upcoming competitions in Esports like Call of Duty, League of Legends and Dota 2, the ESPN predictor enables fans to get assessments on how top Esports players figure to fare in upcoming competitions across the various Esports disciplines. This is a great way to see the best players in the said e-games without the use of cheats or hacks even the ones from trusted companies like Battlelog.
In terms of coverage, ESPN treats Esports as it would any other sport. There are stories on the site about potential destinations for impending free agents. Rosters are listed and there’s a transactions page covering the comings and goings involving player movement on the various teams.
Esports In the Olympics?
Nothing ignites the casual fan’s interest in a sport like an appearance in the Olympics. And an Olympic appearance could be just what the doctor ordered in terms of getting American eyeballs to watch a competitive game of Fortnite or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Americans might not be willing to cross the road to watch a snowboarding competition at any other time of year but put a potential Olympic snowboarding gold medalist in USA colors and suddenly for a brief time, he or she will be bigger than the Beatles.
This could be the ticket to get the American general public to buy into Esports in a big way. Knowing the level of mental and physical preparation to goes into a pro gamers’ efforts to win an their chosen Esport and being aware of these athletes and the sacrifices they make in order to be preparing for major tournaments, there’s no one in their right mind who is going to suggest that the Esports players are first and foremost athletes.
Software giant Intel announced that it will host an Esports tournament in Tokyo during the lead-up to the next Summer Olympics, which are anticipated to be held next year in Japan.
Gamers will be competing in Rocket League and Street Fighter V, with a prize pool of $250k per game. The event will begin with online qualifiers and then a live qualifier event in Poland.