Might be that the critics are right and electronic sports does not resemble traditional sports (at least in any form known to us), but no one can dispute that it is currently one of the fastest growing branches of digital entertainment with both consumers and revenue estimated to grow by 40–50 % year-on-year in the foreseeable future . And these are just the conservative estimates. The prize pools of the largest eSports tournaments have already exceeded 18 m$ and keep rising. The largest streaming (online broadcasting) platform for eSports-related activities, Twitch.tv, just sold for a sliver short of 1 bn$ and last year’s world championships of perhaps the most popular eSports title right now, a multiplayer online battle arena game called League of Legends , garnered 32 million online spectators – at least double the numbers of major league baseball and basketball finals. Incidentally, the 2015 championships finale of the game, to be held in October, will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin before a crowd of 15,000 cash-paying, live spectators. How’s that for a marginal hobby tournament?
In 2017 electronic sports will have over 300 million spectators, making it surpass the viewing figures of NFL and become arguably the most watched sports in the world – and literally all around the world as electronic sports is gaining success not only in Europe and North America but also in Asia and South America. Electronic sports is also gaining traction among formal training institutions : many colleges, high schools and even universities now boast training programs, scholarships and leagues for digital gaming. Players have professional contracts and train according to supervised programs tailored to keep up both their physical and mental capabilities. The competition has become so hard and the stakes so high that some teams have even availed themselves of more questionable measures in order to win, prompting the major eSports associations into adapting anti-doping and sportsmanship rules. It is therefore quite evident that a phenomenon of this size has also attracted a growing amount of legal concern and scrutiny.