Esports is rapidly growing and gaining popularity faster than any other sports game ever before. It has the same definition as every other sport, a competitive game between two or more teams or players, depending on the game. But the real question is, can Esports compete with traditional sports?
The highest ever watched Esports event was Free Fire World Series 2021 in Singapore. The tournament attracted 5,41 million views from all over the world. If we try to compare it with the most popular sports tournament, which is Football World Cup, it is incomparable. Audits show that a record of 3,572 billion people watched the World Cup tournament in 2018. It means that more than half of the world joined together to watch that tournament. In addition to that, if we single out one match, the finals, a match between France and Croatia, it attracted more than 1.12 billion people. This is something that can never happen in an Esports tournament.
It’s clear that Esports still isn’t even close to traditional sports in terms of popularity. We just can’t compare it.
In terms of the prize pool, football is once again the winner against every other sport. The biggest prize pool in sports is $1.3 billion USD. It is the whole prize pool of a football competition UEFA Champions League, and every team that makes a group stage alone takes home a minimum of $17,74 million USD. They are able to add to that with every additional win or draw in the group stage. Every win adds $3 million USD to that, while the draw adds $1 million USD. The same goes for every additional match; only the prizes are bigger. In the end, both winner and runner-up end up with roughly $90 million USD.
On the other side, the biggest Esports tournament ever, in terms of the prize pool, was Dota 2 The International 2021. The total prize pool of this tournament was just above $40 million USD. The prize pool distribution is completely different than it is in football. The winner took 45% of everything and went home with $18,2 million USD.
Considering that every big football team consists of 11 first squad players, 12 substitute players on the bench, and at least 10 in reserve, it adds up to a total of more than 30 players. On the other side, Esports Dota 2 teams consist of 5 players plus 1 or 2 in reserve. It means that winners of both tournaments got roughly 3$ million USD per player. Therefore, even though UEFA Champions League’s prize pool is above $1 billion USD, the winners did not earn more than Esports players just from that single tournament.
Of course, we are not saying that Esports is even close to football, but at least we found something we can compare. Football players still earn more from their salaries, deals, and sponsorships.
If we can’t compare it to football, is there something we can compare it to? Let’s take tennis, for example. The biggest tennis tournament is US Open, and the winner takes home roughly $2,25 million USD. From what we saw before, Dota 2 players got around $3 million USD each which is more. So, Esports can indeed be compared with some traditional sports, at least in terms of the prize pool.
Everything today revolves around money. Both sports and Esports are no different. As it usually is, the highest amount of money is in gambling. Sports betting has been around for hundreds of years. It began with horses in the 18th century and worked its way to become one of the biggest industries of the 21st century. The current global market share of sports betting is $75,75 billion USD.
On the opposite side, Esports is relatively new, and Esports betting has been around for only one decade. However, its global share has already reached $13,3 billion USD. If it continues to grow at this pace, it is only a matter of time for it to catch up with regular sports.
There are certainly some points of contact between Esports and regular sports. Objectively speaking, Esports just can’t compete with sports as a whole. However, some Esports games can indeed compete with some sports. The most popular Esports game already surpassed more than 50% of sports games like Volleyball, Handball, Badminton