How Competitive Gaming Is Becoming a Mainstream Sport


The international Dota 2 championships in 2023 had a prize pool of about 3.38 million dollars, reflecting how much effort has been put into making esports competitions sustainable in the long term, not just high-stakes events with large payouts. The event attracted worldwide attention, with strong view engagement and a level of enthusiasm that only esports can achieve. Although the prize money on offer this year was modest compared with previous events, the championship once more showed off its bustling community and fierce competitions, hallmarks of competitive multiplayer games. With esports gaining acceptance as a mainstream form of entertainment, it now has fans who are as passionate about it as any traditional sport. In this article, we look at how competitive gaming has changed over the years and the future of esports. 

Growth of Esports

From small arcade battles to major world tournaments such as the World Cyber Games, esports has changed dramatically in the past 40 years. The journey began with 1970s computer games like Space Invaders, with esports’ major break coming in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the internet bubble ushered in real-time online games and the first large-scale online electronic sports competitions. During this period, major competitions like The International and the League of Legends World Championship came into existence – today they boast multi-million dollar prize pools with tens or hundreds of thousands of fans watching at a time.

The past decade was a turning point for esports, with professional leagues and organizations developing increasingly standardized tournament formats. As a result, corporate sponsors began to invest in esports at every level. As esports grows wider and deeper, things like dedicated gaming arenas for people interested in competitive playing, as well as active college programs, have become more common, highlighting that esports isn’t just a fad but an industry with real financial clout.

Over time, the definition of esports has expanded to include games like poker. As online casinos have made inroads in the digital space, more and more people are logging onto platforms like PokerStars from their computers and mobile devices to play the world’s most famous card game. To really excel at poker, they must study, which includes memorizing the different hand rankings and learning to read their opponents. While there is still some debate about whether poker should be considered an esport, many would agree it has a lot in common with the video games that have come to define professional gaming. 

Esports and Traditional Sports: Parallels and Differences

Esports shares a number of basic similarities with traditional sports that have led to it being increasingly recognized as a full-fledged sporting industry. In esports, just like in traditional sports, there are professional teams with players who participate in an organized system backed by support staff, which include coaches, analysts, and strategists. In addition, sponsorships play an important role through branding and endorsements. Both esports and traditional sports have dedicated training facilities that they often use to develop next-generation talent and current professionals. These facilities allow players to refine their skills and prepare for competitions. 

Even with all of these similarities, there are some significant differences. The most obvious is that esports emphasize electronic competition rather than the physical focus of traditional sports. Traditional sports are physical and often restricted to particular locations; esports are digital and can be practiced and watched worldwide without any restrictions. While esports teams often practice together like traditional sports teams, they don’t have to. They can connect via the internet for training, something that’s almost impossible in conventional sports. Esports professionals also focus on reaching their audience directly via streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube. In contrast with traditional sports, professional players are restricted by the deals their teams have with major broadcasters. This digital reality makes it easier for esports to reach broad audiences without worrying about geographical barriers. Esports also tend to accept innovation more quickly than traditional sports, with technology constantly pushing them to achieve new goals.