Professional players, organised leagues, world events, millions of fans… Video games started as a hobby practised in the living room with a console, but today it is a professional industry that operates in a similar way to the most popular sports competitions. We tell you everything you need to know to understand eSports.

eSports are competitions that take place in the world of video games and are gaining more and more ground in the entertainment industry. The traditional way in which participants gather around a console to play their favourite game has evolved over time into a professional activity, organised and able to bring thousands of competitors together in a single event – whether online or in person – and attract millions of spectators.

In 2021, eSports’ global turnover exceeded $1 billion, according to estimates by Newzoo, a video game consultant, and the market is expected to continue to grow, with Asia and the United States as leaders in this sector, while in Europe, countries such as Spain are among those with the largest penetration of this industry.

What are eSports?

It is worth noting that the name eSports comes from the combination of two English words: the ‘e’, which refers to electronic, and ‘sports’, so they are also commonly given names such as electronic sports or cybersports. The competitors are known as ‘gamers.

eSports are organised in leagues and their competitions are structured in a similar way to those of football, basketball, tennis or any other sport. Depending on the video game, it can be played individually or in teams; participants train daily to compete in events, and to win the titles and money in prizes awarded by the games’ developers or by sponsors.

Such is the importance that eSports have achieved at present, that there are professional players who dedicate themselves exclusively to preparing and competing, and they receive a salary for this. There are also teams with coaches, psychologists, physical trainers and experts from different areas to improve the performance of their gamers.

As in conventional sports, electronic sports have developed a huge logistical system and invested in innovation to attract the attention of viewers. For example, digital platforms such as Twitch that broadcast tournaments, specialised media covering news in the sector, and brands that sponsor teams and players are all components of this entertainment industry.

Which video games are considered eSports?

It should be noted that not all video games are considered eSports, as they need to have certain characteristics. While video games are understood to be all games that can be played on a screen (game consoles, computers, smartphones, tablets, etc.), to be part of the eSports category, they must meet the following criteria:

  • Be designed for two or more participants to play against each other.
  • Have clear rules and identical conditions for all competitors, so that the winning player does so on the basis of his/her own skill.
  • Have an organised league and hold official competitions.
  • Involve a large enough number of players to attract the interest of viewers and the media.

Taking into account the above conditions, video games such as Fortnite, League of Legends, FIFA, Call of Duty, Rainbow Six and StarCraft are considered eSports.

What is the most widely played eSport?

Due to the variety of devices on which eSports can be played, in addition to the large number of developers and platforms that offer them, it can be difficult to establish precisely which eSport is the most played in the world. What is clear, taking into account aspects such as the download figures, the number of viewers at events and the searches for information on Google, is the undisputed popularity of two of them:

  • Fortnite. This is a third-person video game and the main theme is survival. It was launched in 2017 and has since won over professional and amateur players, as well as millions of fans. The Fortnite World Cup is held each year and, though it was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the health crisis, in 2019 it awarded $100 million in prizes and the final reached an audience of more than two million.
  • League of Legends. Commonly found with the acronym ‘LoL’, it is an action and strategy game created in 2009 in which participants must protect their base and destroy their opponent's. It also has its world tournament, which in 2021 reached an audience of more than 73 million viewers in total. It is one of the eSports with the most annual tournaments: over 2,500.

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