eSports are huge right now and they are only bound to get bigger. As the gamers around the world increase in number, so does the interest in professional play. eSports are being broadcasted on major TV networks, they’re attracting sponsors from all industries, and viewership rivals that of traditional sports.
With all that in mind, it is only natural that all sorts of rumors and speculations about the eSports scene are popping up left, right, and center. After all, professional gamers are modern-day celebrities and the industry itself is evolving so fast that one can never know when the next change might happen.
Cheating allegations, budgets, future team rosters, internal rivalries, and player salaries are always on the eSports enthusiasts’ minds. And with eSports having more scandals per capita than most other sports, fans started to assume that everyone has a secret of some kind.
All those speculations and uncertainty gave birth to quite a lot of myths about the industry, both completely unwarranted and perfectly reasonable. So, without further ado, let us dive into the majestic world of eSports and some of its most common legends. Spoiler alert: some of them will actually turn out to be true, as shocking as it may be.
20 Myth: Winning Tournaments Means Profits
A common misconception is that tournament winnings are more than enough to have the players set for life. After all, with prize pools in the millions and first places awarding a team anywhere between $50,000 and well over $1,000,000, that’s more than enough money to live comfortably for a few years, right? Well, not really. In fact, it turns out that the best teams cover only about 15% of their expenses from tournament winnings, according to Anton “Sneg1” Cherepennikov, owner of Virtus.pro and SK Gaming. Running an eSports organization is not cheap and we will keep exploring why in the next entries.
19 Fact: The eSports Market Is Valued At $1 Billion
As we already established, there is a lot of money in eSports. Prize pools, however, are just a minor piece of the puzzle. There are also sponsorship deals, broadcasting rights, salaries, and all kinds of advertising. All of these keep adding to the value of the market and if Statista’s projections prove true (and they usually do), the revenue from eSports will reach over $1.65 billion in the next three years. A quarter of that is attributed to the Asian scene, with North America and Europe following closely. That’s a lot of money for a market that didn’t really exist just ten years ago.
18 Myth: Retired Pros Have Nothing To Do
First of all, let’s get the obvious out of the way - pro eSports athletes don’t always do just that. Some of them actually have degrees or are working on graduating while they play. So, for them, the eSports scene might not be the only industry moving forward. That being said, those dedicated to the game also have plenty of options after retirement. Pro players often become coaches, casters, or join the business side of the sport. And with the industry continuing its growth, more jobs are becoming available every day. So, if you want to get involved in the market, but not as a player, now would be the best time to do so.
17 Fact: eSports Audience Is Bigger Than Baseball's
Admittedly, baseball is not very popular outside the US and Japan. But still, it is an established sport that has been around for many decades. And eSports have already far surpassed it in terms of unique viewers. Last year’s Major League Baseball World Series was watched by 18.9 million unique viewers on US TV, while IEM Katowice 2017 hit 46 million unique viewers. Of course, eSports are far more accessible and Statista’s data covers the entire world. And still, this is one impressive achievement. We wouldn’t be surprised if eSports manage to beat other conventional sports in the near future. It still has a long way to go before it becomes as popular as football, though.
16 Myth: eSports Are For Schoolchildren
When most people hear of eSports, they think that they are only being watched by children. After all, who else would be interested in watching a bunch of grownups play video games for a living? However, the mindset of the non-gamer works in a much different way than ours, doesn’t it? And with average hardcore gamers nowadays being around or over their thirties, it is naive to assume that eSports viewers would be any different. According to Anton “Sneg1” Cherepennikov, who based his claim on historical data, only about 30% of eSports viewers are actually below the age of 18.
15 Fact: The Push For The Olympics Is Real
Lots and lots of professionals in the eSports industry are pushing for eSports to go Olympic. After all, if golf can be an Olympic sport, then why would eSports be different? They both rely mostly on hand-eye coordination and mental prowess. The push has been so severe that the International Olympic Committee is actually considering it. eSports could be featured as a demonstration event in the Paris Olympics in 2024. However, there are some barriers that have yet to be crossed before video games can make it to the Olympics. The level of violence portrayed in some eSports, for example, is a major one, according to the IOC president, Thomas Bach.
14 Myth: eSports Are Not A Real Sport
In case we didn’t drive this point with the previous entry, let us be direct about it. eSports are a real sport. They require a lot of physical and mental prowess. And in case you are wondering about the physical part, then you obviously haven’t tried pulling off an ace in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with an AWP. The reflexes required are at an inhuman level. This is recognized by people outside the eSports industry as well. International Olympic Committee member Patrick Baumann had this to say:
“At this point saying, ‘Could it be a sport?’ is naive. At this point, it is a sport.”
13 Fact: Cheating In Pro Matches Is A Real Problem
The problem with eSports is that most of the action happens in the virtual space. And while the physical plane of existence has its hard-set limits, cheating in-game is far easier. Players are usually given SSDs and a limited Internet connection the setup room before a match, so they can install their respective drivers and settings. Then, they bring the SSD on stage and plug it into the PC they will use. This allows some players to install cheats as well, with one of the most notable cases being the CS:GO pro KQLY, who got caught installing cheats through the Steam Workshop itself. And he is far from the only example.
12 Myth: You Need To Be Young To Be A Pro
Now, it is a fact that most professional eSports athletes are in their mid-20s. And it is true that younger players do happen to have faster reflexes. But this is true in just about any sport. However, while most other sports almost require professionals to be young and physically fit, eSports are not that strict when it comes to such requirements. There are plenty of players, especially in the Counter-Strike scene, that are in their thirties and are still active. Edward, Zeus, pashaBiceps, and Dosia are just some of the latest pros to hit 30. The average age of the pros is mostly contributed to the relative immaturity of the industry itself, rather than a drop in performance over a certain age.
11 Fact: Women Are Just As Involved In eSports
When it comes to eSports and video games in general, there is a common misconception that they are mostly for men. While this stereotype has slowly been fading when it comes to casual play, it still exists for eSports. This is mostly helped by the fact that there aren’t many female pros in major events. However, a recent study shows that 22% of women are involved in eSports, as opposed to 18% of men. However, women prefer to watch events, instead of competing in them, as they are drawn towards the enjoyment of the sport and the social aspect of the viewing experience. This also explains why most pro athletes are men.
10 Fact: Traditional Sports Stars Are Also Involved
In case we haven’t said it enough times already, eSports are big. Very big. Therefore, it only makes sense that traditional sports stars and organizations are taking notice. There are already several professional athletes that have bought or started their own eSports teams. What’s more, the NBA recently set a precedent with the creation of the NBA 2K League, a whole new eSport, which also involved 17 teams of the regular NBA. A draft was held in March, where each of the teams selected 6 players that are currently competing in the first ever official NBA 2K League. They even have traditional basketball coaches guiding the teams.
9 Myth: Players Need To Win To Be Paid
In the recent past (maybe 10 or so years ago), very few players were actually pros at the level they are right now. Games were not as evolved as they are currently and most tournament winners, at least in the US and Europe, were hobbyists and not professionals. This is no longer the case, though, and as with any other sport, eSports athletes do not need to win a tournament in order to make money. In fact, they are full-time employees with base salaries. Also, most of the winnings actually go towards covering the organization’s everyday expenses and not in the players’ pockets.
8 Myth: Player Salaries Are The Biggest Expense
While we’re on the subject of players salaries, some of you might have known about them. And you might have thought that they are the biggest expense for eSports organizations. However, you would be wrong. In fact, even for the top teams, with the highest-paid players, player salaries do not exceed 40% of the overall expenses. The rest goes for travel, accommodation, visas, and various other bills and requirements like various taxes and office rent, for example. And with the top talent being paid five figures a month, you can do the maths on how much the rest can cost.
7 Fact: Mobile Games Can Also Be eSports
Hardcore gamers often dismiss mobile games as casual, of no importance whatsoever, and not worthy of any attention. However, there are mobile games right now that are not only part of eSports already, but they can also prove to be somewhat profitable. Not as profitable as Dota 2, League of Legends, or CS:GO, but profitable nonetheless. Vainglory, a mobile MOBA that keeps growing in popularity in Asia, is a great example. Organizations like Team SoloMid, Cloud9, SK Gaming, Fnatic, and mousesports have already made some cash from it and the prize pools and the number of tournaments keep increasing. That being said, why Clash Royale is an eSport is beyond me.
6 Fact: CoD And World Of Tanks Are eSports
Pretty much any video game with enough major tournaments per year can be considered an eSport, I guess. This seems to ring true for titles, notorious for their bad rep, such as Call of Duty and such that are somewhat too realistic for the taste of some, like World of Tanks. And, according to Statista, they have a huge number of players too. Call of Duty boasts just over 28 million players as of August 2017, which places it second, behind League of Legends, while World of Tanks sits at 12.3. Of course, this includes the casual everyday players too, but there are professional tournaments out there. There are also such for Rocket League, FIFA, Quake, and Halo. CS:GO has the most competing pros, though - almost 10,000.
5 Myth: Managers Pick The Player Roster
While all managers are there to actually manage the team, and this does include the player roster, according to Sneg1, they don’t always have the final say on who gets to actually be on the team. In fact, according to him, the players’ opinions are 60-70% of the decision-making process. And, come to think about it, it does make sense. After all, they are the ones that will play with a potential new teammate and they are the ones that have to deal with the occasional toxicity of some players. Chemistry and communication are extremely important in team-based games, so if players do not get along, then they shouldn’t be on the same team.
4 Fact: Match Throwing Is A Problem
Just like any other competitive sport, people do place wagers on the outcome. And in the world of eSports, just like in any other competitive field, those involved in the games are not allowed to participate in such activities. However, sometimes people get greedy and they do wager on their own games, just to purposely throw them afterward. This happens in eSports too. In 2015, 12 South Korean citizens, three of which active StarCraft 2 players or coaches, were arrested for throwing a handful of matches. Many more arrests and bans were carried out, especially in the CS:GO side of things. Hopefully, as the industry continues to grow and mature, such cases will slowly fade away.
3 Myth: Large Tournament Organizers Cover All Team Expenses
When a team gets invited to a major tournament, fans often assume that they get all of their expenses for accommodation, visas, food, and whatnot covered by the organizers. Unfortunately, that is not the case. And with so many players showing up for some of the biggest tournaments, it wouldn’t be viable financially, considering everything else the organizers have to pay for. This is where prize money and sponsors come in. According to Sneg1, teams would be lucky to receive even a 50% reimbursement months after the event has concluded, so the organizations pretty much have to pay for everything themselves.
2 Fact: Half Of The Audience Are Not Active Players
One would assume that if you want to watch an eSports event, you are also actively playing that game. It actually turns out that such assumptions would be incorrect, though. Recent statistics show that approximately 40% of the people that watch eSports events are not active players themselves. This is yet another proof that eSports can compete with traditional iterations. After all, just because you watch Formula 1 races, it doesn’t mean that you are on the karting track every weekend, competing in your local tournaments, right? And with the industry growing in popularity every year, that number is bound to increase.
1 Myth: eSports Organizations Are Rolling In Cash
Prize money, especially in the Dota 2 scene amount to millions of dollars every year. The International 2017 had a prize pool of over $24 million. That is six zeroes. The winners, Team Liquid, brought home nearly half of that. And yet, often prize money fail to keep a team in the green. If Sneg1 is to be believed (and we have no reason to doubt him), only the best organizations that manage to win several majors in a year are profitable. The rest would consider themselves lucky if they manage to break even, despite all the merch and sponsorship deals.