The global esports industry was one of those industries that remained resilient to the pandemic last year and in 2021 has an even stronger calendar of events.
Showing the boost for the sector in 2020, fresh data shows there was a massive 83% increase in the number of gaming hours watched on the Twitch platform.
For the whole of the year, some 17bn hours were watched on the Amazon-owned platform, according to the year-end report from streaming analytics company StreamElements and Arsenal.gg.
Twitch saw a new record one-month figure in December of 1.7bn hours, while Facebook Gaming also enjoyed a record month with 388mln hours watched.
For those following professional esports for fun and those that bet on these competitions, there will be plenty of action in the coming months.
In recent days, ESL Gaming, the world’s largest esports company, announced that it will be running all-new pro circuit leagues for the Dota 2 multiplayer online battle arena game.
READ: Esports will not replace real-world sport, but its growth could still be a boon for both markets
The Dota Pro Circuit (DPC) kicks off on January 18 and these leagues will precede the Dota 2 Majors (the first starting on March 25 and the second on June 2) and the big event of The International 10, which will return in September after a year off.
Other events in coming weeks include League of Legends in Europe (LEC), China (LPL) and Korea (LCK) starting on January 22, the Call of Duty League starting on February 11 and CS:GO IEM Katowice, a key event, starting on February 16. Later in the year, big events to look out for include CSGO Major and the League of Legends Worlds both in October.
There will also be new ways to follow pro esports leagues, with YouTube having gained exclusive broadcast rights to Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty and Overwatch Leagues, while Sport One burgeoning esports content business has agreed a deal to create an esports channel on Facebook, and ESL and DreamHack have agreed for Blake Broadcasting to broadcast its esports tournaments in the US, Canada, and Asia, but excluding China.
AIM-listed Gfinity PLC (LON:GFIN), newly profitable, has recently announced that it has been selected to deliver the second season of the F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix series, which last year doubled its live stream view to 11.4mln across all digital platforms and has been selected again to run the ePremier League.
The Virtual Grands Prix will also return this year for a three-race competition, starting on January 31, and the F1 Esports Series China Championship will see a second winner crowned in next week’s grand final in Shanghai, with the Challenger Series continuing for eight rounds until April, before the F1 Esports Series Pro Championship returns in the autumn.
Also on AIM, Guild Esports PLC’s (LON:GILD) teams will be competing in championships for Rocket League and FIFA, along with the company’s new team specialising in Valorant, a new multiplayer tactical shooter game.
Guild has also said it will continue to add teams in new games this year and moving forwards.
Freshly floated in Toronto, the Isle of Man-based company is looking to build on its 500% increase in turnover last year with a new CFO and a wider recruitment drive to bulk-up marketing capacity for its Luckbox operating arm in 2021.
“This year is all about scale for us,” said Real Luck boss Quentin Martin this week, in particular ramping up customer acquisition efforts.
Also in North America is Esports Entertainment Group Inc (NASDAQ:GMBL), another licensed online gambling company with a specific focus on esports wagering and 18-plus gaming.
It recently announced a multi-year partnership with the Philadelphia Eagles which will see it serve as the first esports tournament provider for an NFL club, with the Eagles also becoming a shareholder in the company.