What is Esports?
Esports consists of the competitive side of videogames, wherein players and teams compete against each other in organised competitions. Esports tournaments range from casual events to amateur and professional level of play, with live streaming and broadcasting having seen the activity surge in popularity, exposure and professionalism.
Whilst most video-games do not lend themselves to being played competitively, the development of an esports title requires an even more specific set of circumstances, including the size of the player base, viewership, the existence of organised leagues and large prize pools and in-built competitive game design, rulesets strategic depth and a high-skill ceiling. Esports consists of a multitude of videogame titles with several different categories. Amongst the most popular esports titles, one may find League of Legends and Dota 2, two examples of the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre, Counter-Strike and Valorant, two tactical shooter games, whilst other genres include real time strategy, battle royale, sports and racing simulators fighting and card games amongst others.
As esports is played over the internet, esports benefits greatly from the fact that the interface transcends borders. At any time of the day, people from around the globe can be competing against each other, and it is very common to have multi-national teams competing at most events. Furthermore, since broadcasting of esports tournaments largely occurs over streaming websites such as Twitch and Youtube as opposed to television, content is easily accessible, and distributed equitably around the world. Total esports viewership is expected to reach 646 million by 2023, doubling viewership in 2017.
What is the Connection between Esports and Sports?
Esports has developed a professional scene, with professional leagues, players and team brands, with sponsors and investors who are both endemic and non-endemic to the industry. Many traditional sports leagues and teams are now turning to esports to target a younger audience. FIFA, UEFA, Formula 1, the NBA and the Olympics have all organised their own esports championships, involving traditional sports teams such as Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and AC Milan.
Like any other competitive activity, success in esports requires skill, study, quick reactions, accuracy, strategy and teamwork. Whilst the activity does not have the same physical requirements of physical sports, physical and mental wellbeing plays a very important part.
Status of Esports in Malta
Esports is quickly developing as both a popular activity amongst Malta’s youth, as well as an economic niche for the country, fulfilling the sub-sectors of sports tourism as well as the videogame development and tech industries.
Malta has already played host to a number of international tournaments, attracting international top teams from around the world to compete on stage in Malta, but also there is a budding local community numbering several thousand, serviced through grassroots initiatives such as community events, national tournaments, and other initiatives. Furthermore, a large community of young expatriates and other digital nomads living and working in Malta has increased the number and quality of esports enthusiasts and competitors on the island. Many Nordic and German youngsters, both countries with strong esports cultures, are being integrated into the local community through esports.
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