Year on year the Esports industry seemingly grows every year, whether that’s with larger numbers of viewers, bigger prize pools, or even as far as more well known names entering the scene with sponsorships and investment into teams etc. So that begs the question? Why is it so popular and why is it continuing to rise in popularity? Well, there’s only one way to find out, right?
Well, the short answer is kinda grim but here we go, the older generation is dying out and the younger generation coming through is replacing them. The younger generation is massively into video games of course, while the older generations who may have grown alongside video games, may not be as into them, or simply can’t play anymore. When it comes to watching anything competitive, it feels like the older generation always defaults to traditional sports however, which I feel was shown when sports networks were showing Esports during the beginning of Covid lockdown, when all live sports were pretty much put on a hiatus.
NRG were winners of the RLCS Season 8 (The last LAN) Turbopolsa, Jstn. & GarretG Source: Rocket League
All I saw when looking on social media was people in and around my dads age group moaning about it “Why would I want to watch somebody play video games?” “WHAT’S A ROCKET LEAGUE?” etc. As opposed to just, you know, not watching it? OR broadening their horizons. They were genuinely outraged at the fact they were being “force fed” something they didn’t want to watch. Even though no live sport was happening due to Covid and online competition could continue. I for one was very happy to see the likes of BT Sport picking up Rocket League and CS:GO etc. to fill their gaps in entertainment. Not only does that give me MORE Esports to watch, but it also boosts potential viewer numbers for future Esports events and I’m all over that!
One thing I have noticed however, is that more betting companies have been picking up Esports, which is attracting a lot of beginners bettors, people who wouldn’t usually gamble but while trying to use their knowledge to see if they can make a quick buck off something they hold a real passion for, gaming and this to me is where the popularity of Esports comes from, the fact the younger generation have a genuine passion for gaming as well as a large interest in competitive gaming in general.
It’s that passion which made Esports so popular for me, only for specific games however, I grew up playing a lot of First Person Shooters, classics like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor, so when I got my PS3 and started playing Call of Duty 4 online, I enjoyed looking into more competitive ways of playing it, starting with game battles and local tournaments. In my older age however I don’t find myself playing many FPS games outside of Apex Legends and competitive Battle Royales are boring to me, one game I do watch and play consistently however is Rocket League.
RLCS Season 11 returns October 2021 running through July 2022. Source: Rocket League
I’ve watched Rocket League go from a game that launched on Playstation Plus to being a HUGELY popular game for all, THEN be picked up by Epic and moved to a free to play base and that is absolutely awesome. Not only that though, but I’ve watched competitive Rocket League since the days of Flipside Tactics and iBuyPower Cosmic, when names like MarkyDooDaa and Kronovi were dominating the scene, blowing my mind with their crazy finishing, insane air control and fast paced passing play.
As a game and an Esport in general Rocket League has grown massively, it evolves year on year and the meta changes consistently believe it or not. Prize money grows consistently, this season they have added more regions which is fantastic and the skill ceiling of the game is being broken non stop, with more insane mechanics, crazy tactics and game knowledge constantly being discovered. The best part about it is you don’t even need to know how to play Rocket League to find it exciting to watch, I’ve sat and watched the RLCS with my wife and kids and none of them knew what was going on but BOY were they excited for it!
At the end of the day, the video game industry as a whole is huge, it’s still growing day by day and alongside that competitive gaming is also growing and becoming hugely popular, I’m really glad to see my one real hobby being recognised now as opposed to just being “something for nerds”, if only I was born 10 years later maybe I’d be interested in trying to compete! I guess that’s what my kids are for right and if that’s what they want to do you better believe I’ll be supporting them!