The Rise of eSports in a Post-Pandemic World

By: Gabriel Shvachkin

After the COVID-19 Pandemic pushed us into our homes and left us void of social interaction, many of us turned to our keyboards and controllers to pass the time. With traditional sports leagues like the MLB and the NBA coming to a halt due to social distancing guidelines and the interest of public safety, many fans of the sports industry have turned to the world of esports. [1] Despite the recent boom, eSports has been steadily growing for quite some time, boasting 40% annual increases in its audience, expected to be worth 1.8 billion dollars by 2022. [2] Game developers and esports broadcasters are contending with marketers of traditional sports for the same coveted demographic, ages 18 to 34, an audience that makes up 73% of viewers of esports as estimated by consumer marketing research firm Global Web Index. [3] The projected viewership of esports by the end of 2021 is expected to be 84 million viewers, in comparison to the MLB, NBA, and NHL boasting 79 million, 63 million, and 32 million respectively, with only the NFL being more viewed at 141 million viewers. [4] 

            Despite the recent boom, many are still unfamiliar with the concept of eSports. ESports is the world of competitive, organized video gaming where competitors from different leagues or teams face off in the same games which are popular with gamers and viewers. [5] Fortnite, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Madden NFL are all titles which are watched and followed by millions of fans globally who attend live events, tune in on TV, and watch live events on websites such as Twitch. [6] Successful teams not only compete in game for huge prize pools at tournaments, but also rake in millions from sponsorship deals and by selling merchandise. [7] The industry works similar to regular sports making revenue through advertising, media rights, online ticket sales, and merchandise, with events prior to the pandemic attracting thousands of devoted fans. [8]

ESports is a concept that dates back as far as the 1970s with video game competitions at Stanford University which grew into the World Cyber Games, the Electronic Sports World Cup, and Major League Gaming by the early 2000’s. [9] Now, Blizzard Entertainment has signed multiyear broadcast deals with Disney, ESPN, and ABC to broadcast games like Overwatch.[10]

Currently, the world of eSports is moving to the forefront of competitive entertainment. The ability to become remote gives eSports the ability to move past potential issues because of the health crisis comparatively unscathed unlike it’s in person competitors.[11] Gaming appears set to capitalize in a post pandemic world.[12]

[1] Hannah Skentelberry, The Rise of eSports, Warrington-Worldwide (Feb. 1, 2021, 7:00 AM),

[2] Mark Stock, The Rise of eSports and Online Competitive Gaming, The Manual (Apr. 9, 2020),

[3] With Viewership and Revenue Booming, Esports Set to Compete with Traditional Sports, Syracuse Univ., (last visited Sept. 4, 2021).

[4] Id.

[5] AJ Willingham, What is eSports? A look at an explosive billion-dollar industry, CNN (Aug. 27, 2018, 2:18 PM),

[6] Id.

[7] Skentelberry, supra note 1.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Overwatch League comes to ESPN, Disney and ABC, ESPN (July 11, 2018),

[11] Ed Dixon, What is the future for esports after Covid-19?, Sports Pro Media (Apr. 15, 2020),

[12] Id.