What is esports? Everything you need to know, explained

What is esports? Everything you need to know, explained
Riot Games / Hugo Hu

There’s a lot to understand in the world of esports. On the surface, it might look as simple as a set of video game players competing against each other. But draw back the curtains and there’s a whole industry to discover.

What is esports?

Esports is competitive video gaming that’s played in an official or structured setting. It’s a newer form of spectator sport where, instead of traditional games like football or baseball, the backdrop is blockbuster video game titles like League of Legends, Call of Duty, and more. Event and league operators arrange tournaments on a regular basis to pit the best gaming teams—or individuals—against each other to test their mettle. Through online broadcasts, this has garnered a large following of people who enjoy seeing their favorite games played at the highest level possible.

Is the esports industry big?

Yes, it is, but some people expect it to reach even greater heights. In fact, data company Newzoo predicts that esports will generate nearly $1.38 billion of revenue in 2022.

Not only is it a billion dollar industry, but the world’s largest esports organizations, which field the teams of gamers that compete in tournaments, also come with jaw-dropping valuations.

Los Angeles-based Team Liquid raised $35 million in May 2022 on a valuation of $415 million. While Team Liquid does have additional revenue streams in a network of websites and a content production studio, this is the valuation of just one organization. There are dozens more.

So yeah, esports is pretty big.

How do people make money in esports?

We could write a whole article on this question, but the short answer is to think of the esports industry as being similar to sports.

  • Players: earn a monthly salary from their team, a percentage of prize winnings, brand endorsements, and ad revenue from their own streams or YouTube content.
  • Teams: earn money from sponsors, revenue share with leagues, and apparel.
  • Leagues: earn money from sponsors, team buy-in fees, and rights deals with livestreaming and content platforms.

Why do people watch esports?

For the same reason that people watch sport. When someone has mastered a video game to the same level of Ronaldo with soccer, or Michael Jordan with basketball, they’re electric to watch.

A common criticism you’ll hear from people following this is: ‘But why would you watch someone playing a game when you could just play it yourself?’

Once more, the answer is the same as to why people would rather watch sport than play it. It’s easier, more effortless entertainment, and the people you’re watching can play to a much higher standard than you.

Where can I watch esports?

Esports, for the most part, lives on livestreaming platforms. The largest of these are Twitch and YouTube Gaming.

On Twitch, there’s a dedicated esports directory where you can find matches that are live right now, or browse through some of the popular esports titles to find a stream you want to watch.

On YouTube Gaming, you’ll find more VODs (videos on demand) than on Twitch but fewer live esports competitions.

Where can I find upcoming matches and tournaments?

The most thorough esports database is Liquipedia. Check out its homepage to see if it has a section on your favorite esports title.

Can I get a job in esports?

You can! You’ve actually come to the perfect place. Hitmarker is the leading job platform for the games industry and esports is where we established our roots.

Click here for our full list of esports vacancies. Remember that most back-office jobs in esports require a very similar skillset to any other industry: an accountant still needs to know accounting, and a marketer still needs to know marketing, so don’t talk yourself out of applying if you’re new to the industry.

Just read our article on transitioning from an outside industry into games to avoid making the common mistakes we see.

How do you spell esports?

Is it esports, Esports, or eSports? The preference can vary in different parts of the world. Those in Brazil, for example, will often say ‘eSports’.

But in Europe and North America, it’ll nearly always be ‘Esports’ or ‘esports’. We treat it the same as any other word, so capitalize it at the start of a new sentence, and don’t capitalize it in the middle of a sentence. Simple!

Are any celebrities involved in esports?

You bet! Check out this list of famous figures who’ve invested in an esports company:

  • Drake (100 Thieves)
  • Jennifer Lopez (NRG)
  • Michael B Jordan (NYXL)
  • Michael Jordan (AXiomatic Gaming)
  • Post Malone (Envy Gaming)
  • Shaquille O'Neal (NRG)
  • Sylvia Rhone (FaZe Clan)
  • Will Smith (Gen.G)

These are just a few of the broader questions that exist to help you get an understanding of esports. To continue learning about the industry, it’s a good idea to build a LinkedIn and/or Twitter presence to connect with relevant professionals. We’d also recommend attending an in-person esports event if any pop up near you.

Beyond that, find what game(s) you enjoy watching, see if any teams appeal to you in particular, and enjoy everything that the world of esports has to offer.