Esports, or competitive gaming if you prefer, is a popular topic here on TNW because it is the mixing point of application development, livestreaming technology, and certain elements of gaming culture. It’s a direct hit for our focus, if you will.

If you don’t know a darn thing about esports, let me provide you with a short primer. All over the world tournaments are held, sporting prize pools that can stretch into the six figures for single title’s competition over a weekend. There are dozens of professional esports team, with rosters of salaried players, each with fat corporate sponsorships. The best players are constantly jetting around the globe to play, and win, in the biggest competitions. There are gamers that make more money than you, and have tens of thousands of fans.

Don’t reach for the vodka however, they also work more hours than you do. In Korea, the esports hub of the world, professional gamers routinely put in 12 hours days. Every day.

Today we have some rather interesting data on two of the most recent, and largest tournaments that we feel highlights just how big, and ‘mainstream’ gaming is becoming. We begin with Major League Gaming’s (MLG) national finals from just a few weeks ago. TNW has written a rather extensive profile of MLG, which you can find here.

This is how the event performed, over the span of just three days:

mlg final chart 520x714 Esports continues to blow away its doubtersMLG has continued to set records, event after event, for some time now. It hosts a yearly ‘circuit’ of events, each in a different city throughout the year, culminating in its national finals, this year held in Providence. The company has massive reach into the young male demographic, a coveted slice of the population, which it uses to drive partnerships with a plethora of consumer and technology related companies.

The company has raised some 56 million dollars thus far.

For a fun comparison, we’ll look at DreamHack, a massive gaming event in Sweden that takes place four times a year. It holds the word record for largest computer festival and LAN event. During its course, it hosts number of tournaments, and its most recent installment hit the following benchmarks:

  • Total views: 6,755,728
  • Unique viewers: 1,673,270
  • Peak concurrent viewers: 94,932

Perhaps not quite as impressive as MLG’s latest numbers, but still quite good for something as nascent (in a sense) as esports.

In fact, the recent year’s rise in the popularity of esports (specifically, the explosion of Starcraft 2) has lead to a cottage industry (perhaps too negative a phrase) to spring up around it. Livestreamed gaming content has become so popular, that Justin.tv built an entire new division of itself dubbed Twitch.tv to cater to it.

We could go on, but we’ll leave it at this: as gaming becomes a normal, and not odd activity, and as the technology that makes competitive gaming increasingly feasible, we don’t expect these numbers to decline a bit; we expect them to go up.