The noise in the crowd peters to a quiet whisper as the player select their heroes. This is it. This is the final game that will determine which team is the best League of Legends team in the world. Nearly 15,000 spectators fill the Staples Center in Los Angeles to max capacity. Online, 8.5 million livestream viewers sit back and enjoy the game from the comfort of their own home. Forty minutes later, the crowd roars in approval as the team SKTT1 ends the game and becomes $1,000,000 richer. Royal Club, the opposing team, fails to win and falls to second place, receiving $250,000 for its efforts.
This is what the newest spectator sport looks like. Thousands of people travel across the world to watch in person, and millions of others tune in from home or bars or viewing parties. It is a massive event where friends and family come together to watch. And where the people go, the money goes too.
In fact, the number of tournaments conducted year has been increasing rapidly, and the prize pools have also gotten larger and larger.
Just last year, the total prize pool spread over 696 tournaments was over $10,000,000. As more and more people come to watch, the money and tournament totals will only continue increasing.
With this recent boost in popularity, soon eSports might even be broadcasted on TV. In Korea, there are several channels of television that are solely dedicated to gaming — much like ESPN is dedicated to sports here.
Local events are a big part of the eSports culture as well. Similar to eSports bars, many eSports enthusiasts will gather to watch tournament broadcasts together. However, because it is all free, food is typically scarce, and other amenities are sometimes hard to find. This a massive opportunity for local businesses to become involved and advertise their goods.
Take, for example, the advertising opportunity that could have been taken advantage of at The University of Maryland College Park during the 2013 League of Legends World Championship. Nearly 400 college students came together and watched the finals in one, enormous group. That moment would have been a perfect time for any local business to enter the eSports scene, and at an event so large, exposure is guaranteed.
The sheer number of people made it difficult to find a place to house everyone. Multiple locations were suggested, but many more simply did not meet the requirements of time and size. Only at the last minute was a location confirmed. If a local company had stepped in and offered some space (it could have even been outside), quite a few people could have been won over.
Cold drinks and food would have been extraordinarily appreciated–the lack of air conditioning and proximity to dinner time were possibly the two biggest complaints about the event. The nearby vending machines saw heavy use — by the end of the night, many of the drinks were sold out despite many people’s aversion to spending money at a free event. If any of the local businesses provided refreshments of any kind, customer loyalty would have been all but assured.
Trinkets, shirts, and other clothing would have been an exceptionally effective way of advertisement as well. Raffles were had and prizes were given out, but they were all Riot (the company that created the game League of Legends) sponsored. A company could have garnered a few more loyal customers using this method too.
Now, more than ever, is an opportune time to invest in this booming business. It is still inexpensive and guarantees high exposure. For local businesses that may not have the funds to advertise at large, local events are perfect opportunities to spread brand names among a relatively large consumer base.