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The Explosive Growth of eSports: Is the UK Falling Behind?

The internet was ablaze barely a month ago as a 16-year old teenager won a cool $3 million in the solo Fortnite World Cup finals.  Perhaps for the first time in our generation, parents were finally beginning to understand that gaming can be more than a hobby; for some very talented and dedicated individuals, it’s a high-profile career.

For those of us who are passionate about gaming, it was no surprise – we’ve seen eSports grow exponentially in the past decade. You just need to look at the League of Legends World Championship to understand how popular eSports has become. The first final could barely attract an audience the size of a school stadium but today’s finals barely fit into the largest sports stadiums, leaving thousands without a chance to buy a ticket.

How fast is the industry growing?

The numbers prove it – the industry is growing like crazy. By 2022, eSports revenue is expected to grow to £ 1.46 billion while today it stands at a whopping £ 832 million. Revenue is split between various channels including advertising, sponsorship, merchandise, tickets, game publishing fees and media rights.

This is directly proportional to then number of viewers. In 2019, there were 454 million viewers, and China alone accounts for over 75 million of them! eSports viewership is surpassing that of all the most popular sports across the world. In 2016, millions more spectators watched LoL than the NBA and the Super Bowl.


Beyond the finals, there are also billions of hours of streaming via Twitch and YouTube. In 2018, 1.266 billion hours were streamed from the top 25 games alone. The League of Legends World Championship and the Overwatch League beat spectator records with 53.8 million and 79.5 million hours of spectating respectively.

Who earns from eSports growth?

eSports players span the globe but a few countries have established themselves as power players in the eSports arena. China is beating all with £ 52 million in earnings, while USA and Korea follow behind.

In Europe, the top players are from Sweden, Denmark and Germany who together have earned less revenue than the other top three. The UK doesn’t come close, so there’s a lot of catching up to do!

Interestingly, in the UK, football teams such as Manchester City and West Ham have recognized the potential and growth of eSports and have invested in the industry, teams and players. The Premier League has even launched the “ePremier League,” a competitive gaming tournament played on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The UK is working to catch up with the gaming industry. There are currently 2,261 gaming companies that have made their home in the UK, of which 62% have been founded in the past 9 years. London alone hosts 614 of them.

In 2019, the UK eSports audience is expected to reach 8 million people, particularly millennials who represent 63% of the market.

Prize pools in the millions

If you were impressed by the $3 million Fornite prize pool, consider the Dota 2 prize from 2018: an insane $22 million! That beats the prize pool for UEFA Champions League Final, the Wimbledon and NBA Championships.

The best-paid player is the German Dota2 player KuroKy, who has received $4.2 million in prize money so far. Considering how large prize pools are becoming, this win will probably be dwarfed in the next few years.

eSports gaming is growing like crazy across the world and in the UK. As computers are more accessible, internet connections are faster, and games offer absolutely free-to-play experiences, the gaming and eSports industry is evolving to become massive. Now is the time for the UK to take advantage of the wave and ride it toward success.

Want to see more stats and insights on gaming in the UK? Here is the full infographic.

eSports - Entering center stage

eSports – an Infographic by hotukdeals

What do you think?

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