Revealed: What does it take to become an esports star?
·         Johan Sundstein aka ‘N0tail’ is the top-ranking esports player of 2020 and the highest winner of all time, with a colossal $6.9 million in prize money to his name 

·         The average age of a top-ranking esports player is 24 for male players and 27 for female

·         Popular streaming sites have experienced a 20% increase in the number of hours streamed in lockdown 

Esports have accelerated into the mainstream in recent years, providing many avid gamers with the opportunity to turn their passion into a career. And with prize funds reaching the millions, being on top of your game certainly pays off. So, what does it take to make it big in esports and how has the industry evolved? Intel explored the ins and outs of the growing esports world.

The making of an esports star
·         The most top-ranking male players of 2020 are from China (26%), and the most top-ranking female players are from the USA (42%)

·         Logical thinking, problem-solving, quick reaction times, commitment, and teamwork are the most important skills for a professional esports player

·         Physical health must also be a priority when training for esports, as well as in-game performance

Wonder what an esports superstar looks like? Based on the 100 top-ranking male and female esports players of 2020, the average age is 24 for male players and 27 for females. Some are even as young as 16, demonstrating that progression is very possible at a young age.

To climb the ranks, players must be committed to perfecting their game and putting in the necessary training, both in-game and physically. Healthy eating and a good night’s sleep are also recommended for optimal performance.

Esports host, Frankie Ward says “Esports teams are beginning to bring their routines in line with more traditional sports. Counter-Strike team Astralis, for example, has a coach, sports psychologist, and a physiotherapist. They also have a nutritionist and a sleep doctor that they can access, should they need extra help.”

Aoife Wilson, Head of Video at Eurogamer also stresses the importance of physical health, adding that players should “make physical training a priority alongside in-game training, which can not only help with focus and mindset, but in preventing strain or injuries that can come with sitting at your computer for prolonged periods of time.”

The esports industry in 2020
·         The industry, which is currently worth $1.1 billion in 2020, is projected to be worth $1.8 billion by 2022

·         The top competitive esports games of 2020 are multiplayer battle arena ‘Dota 2’, multiplayer first-person shooter ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’ and battle royale game ‘Fortnite’

·         The top competing countries are the USA, China, and The Republic of Korea with overall winnings in 2019 totaling $41.3 million, $18.5 million, and $16.5 million for the respective nations

While many live 2020 esports events were forced to cancel in response to the coronavirus pandemic, some went ahead in a virtual format. In fact, popular streaming sites such as Twitch and YouTube experienced a 20% increase in the number of hours streamed in lockdown, suggesting gaming provided solace to many throughout quarantine.

The esports industry has grown by epic proportions in recent years. Over the last five years, revenue has tripled from $325M to $1.1 billion and audience size has quadrupled from 120M to 495M. What’s more, the industry is projected to be worth a huge $1.8 billion by 2022.

Streamer Chris Ball aka ‘Sacriel’ says, “as the technical limits on game engines get pushed further and further back with breakthroughs in computing prowess, I think esports and streaming is going to become more mainstream and I look forward to what the new technology brings us.”

How much money is there in esports?
·         Team Liquid holds the title as top-ranking esports team of 2020, having won 1,706 tournaments and $34.9 million in prize money as a team

·         Dota 2 is the most lucrative esports game, with an overall prize pool of $223.3 million

·         Sponsors comprise $456 million of the overall $1.1 billion in esports revenues over the last year

With huge financial prizes up for grabs at prestigious tournaments, top esports players have the potential to take home millions. Johan Sundstein aka ‘N0tail’ is the highest esports winner of all time, having won a total of $6.9 million throughout his esports career.

And like traditional sports professionals, esports players and teams can also secure sponsorship deals from businesses and individuals. Some of the most high-profile sponsorships include Red Bull, BMW, Michael Jordan, and Drake.

Diversity in esports in 2020
·         There are no females in the top 100 esports players in 2020

·         The top-ranking male player of 2020 (Johan Sundstein – $6.9M) has won $6.54 million more than the top-ranking female player (Sasha Hostyn – $358k)

Unfortunately, the esports industry remains a very male-dominated playing field, despite growing numbers of women taking up gaming. Of the 100 top-ranking players of 2020, there were no females on the list, suggesting there’s work to be done to improve diversity and inclusivity in esports.

“Women are still hugely underrepresented in professional gaming and esports, but that’s hardly surprising given that it’s taken time for women to become more visible in the wider industry,” says Aoife Wilson, Head of Video at Eurogamer.

“The answer isn’t simply to hire a lot of women in junior roles and claim the problem is fixed – there needs to be women working in every facet, every sector of the industry. It’s only then that younger generations of women will look at professional gaming and esports as a viable, safe, and welcoming place for them to work and forge a career.”