Daryl Adair, associate professor of sports management at the University of Technology Sydney, says the current situation offers the industry good potential for growth.
“Esports are already in the digital space,” he says.
“Their challenge is to reach mainstream sports fans who have little knowledge of what Esports offer.
“There is the prospect for greater exposure among the uninitiated and, in some cases, a growth in customers.”
Problems such as bugs, lags and connectivity issues mean it’s unlikely that Esports will replace real-life sports.
However, in the meantime, popular games such as Dota 2, an online battle arena game, have been offering big prize pools – as high as $42 million for Dota 2’s “The International” (TI) championships.
The prize money excludes player contracts with teams.
Recently, one player with the League of Legends (LoL) game, known as “Faker”, turned down a $14 million contract with a Chinese team for an undisclosed sum and part-ownership to stay on with Korean team SK Telecom T1.
Esports will be part of the Tokyo 2021 Olympics as an exhibition sport, featuring popular games such as Street Fighter V.
However, the industry has not been immune to Covid-19-related disruptions, with major events with live spectators, such as TI, being cancelled or postponed.
“This has compromised the hybrid nature of Esports competitions, which rely on a combination of virtual and visible fandom,” says Adair.