Can Esports Maintain the Momentum?

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ID 134233489 © Vladimirs Poplavskis | Dreamstime.com

Can esports keep making inroads into mainstream culture when traditional sports return? That is the million-dollar question that every gamer, videogame design company, and sponsor is asking right now as news reports continue to emerge that the genre has become widely watched and wagered on since the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the coronavirus made its way to western nations, the sports world has been at a standstill with the biggest leagues and competitions paused or cancelled altogether. Esports has benefitted from the pause of traditional sports with bookies and fans turning to the genre to fill the void.

Traditional sports won’t be down and out for long, and speculation is growing over the return of the German top-flight football league in May. There is the likelihood that esports could shrink back into the shadows when traditional sports returns, but hope is high that it can keep its new place in the mainstream.

Sportsbooks look to esports to fill the void

Esports survival during the coronavirus outbreak has been in large part thanks to tournaments and gaming occurring online. Players do not have to meet in arenas to compete allowing them to play from the comfort of their own homes. It has allowed sportsbooks to offer betting markets to punters who would never have wagered on an esports competition previously.

Scrolling through Bet365’s website, the soccer section is littered with esoccer matches throughout the day. The sportsbook is offering betting odds on games like never before hoping that traditional football punters will wager on the e-version of the game.

Although leading sportsbooks are attempting to use esports to fill the betting void, it doesn’t mean traditional sports fans are placing bets on esports competitions, matches, and tournaments. If traditional sports fans are not betting on esports, it doesn’t mean the genre hasn’t entered the mainstream. It just means esports hasn’t attracted the traditional sports punter, yet.

Who is the modern esports fan?

According to Loot.bet, a platform that specialises in esports betting, some very unique characteristics of the people who bet on esports have been found. The website’s research found that 94% of esports bettors are male and 78% of all bettors fall between the ages of 18 and 25. Those bettors fall into the Gen Z generation showing that esports is certainly skewed to a young demographic.

The website also profiled the average Western European esports bettor, which is quite interesting.

  • Male
  • 24-years-old
  • Junior manager or novice specialist
  • Not married/single
  • No kids

Perhaps the most interesting aspect Loot.bet found was that 64% of esports bettors do not wager on traditional sports. It can be extrapolated that there is no overlap with those 64% of bettors on watching traditional sports.

So, does this research mean it will be difficult for esports to crack the mainstream once traditional sports returns? If traditional sports fans or bettors were won over, then there will be some that stick around. However, it is likely that the genre will see its typical fanbase remain with only an incremental gain. Esports is still growing and with a young audience, it isn’t a bad thing that traditional sports fans don’t hang around.

Drew Farmer
Drew’s work has appeared on a variety of sports and travel websites. He is also a published author having written the sports/travel book Soccer Travels. A keen gamer now also trying his hand at writing about Esports!