THE 2019 ESPORTS AWARDS WINNERS
Esports Stadium Arlington played host to this weekend’s 2019 Esports Awards. Hosted by Eefje “SJOKZ” Depoortere and “GOLDEN BOY” Alex Mendez, the awards saw some of the best in the industry be recognized for their talents and dedication over the past year. They were joined by Jess Brohard, Bil “Jump” Carter, Lottie Van Praag and “Hungrybox” Juan DeBiedma in sharing hosting duties.
The First Stateside Awards
This is the first time that the Esports Awards event takes place in the USA. The stadium was packed with esports personalities, streamers and journalists in tuxedos, apart from Sonicfox who wore his trademark costume. Thousands of viewers from 30 countries watched the live stream of the event on YouTube, Twitch, Mixer, and Twitter.
Mayor of Arlington, Jeff Williams, began the proceedings with a speech as a special guest of the event. He spoke of esports as a genuine sport and promised to promote it going forward. A video package was played showing senior citizens on television not agreeing to esports being a real sport or drawing spectators. This was followed up by the biggest esport moments of the year. 16-year-old Bugha winning the Fortnite World Cup, amongst other emotional moments proved those on TV wrong. He also presented the Streamer of the Year award to Dr. Disrespect.
The Industry Awards
Richard Lewis won Esports Journalist of the Year and had some harsh words of criticism for mainstream media. He named Kotaku and Polygon, talking about how little they know about esports. Lewis spoke of them creating hit pieces on a streamer each year, trying to cancel the streamer so they can get one of their cronies in to gatekeep the community. He also ridiculed how a certain journalist reported a CS:GO tournament as a Trump rally due to lack of fact-finding and sensationalist journalism. Lewis stressed his thanks for the journalists who are honest and truthful, and the ones trying to fact check and report the truth, condemning those who do not. This speech received the strongest reaction of the night, with most of the crowd giving him a standing ovation.
Fresh off of the 2019 World Championship, League of Legends won the Esports Game of the Year award. CS:GO came in second place, with Rainbow Six Siege taking third. HyperX won Esports Commercial Partner of the year, with Esports Coverage Website of the Year going to Dexerto. Intel took home the award for Hardware Provider of the Year. League of Legends publisher Riot Games also picked up an award as Esports Publisher of the Year. Loaded was given the award for Esports Supporting Agency of the Year.
Esports Pro Award Winners
Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf received two awards on the night. The winner of the Fortnite World Cup won PC Rookie of the Year and the PC Player of the Year. His mother joked that he could only access his enormous winnings from the world cup at the age of 30.
The Panels Choice award was given for the first time this year to Ryan Thompson. More good news for League of Legends fans released as the World Championship 2019 won the Esports Live Event of the Year award. GOLDEN BOY was awarded Esports Host of the Year. League of Legends team G2 Esports won Esports Team of the Year. Henry “Henry G” Greer won Esports Caster of the Year, Dominique “Sonicfox” Mclean took the Esports Console Player of the Year and Chris “Simp” Lehr won the Esports Console Rookie of the Year. Team Liquid added another award to their cabinet in the form of Esports Organization of the Year.
Finally, in the Community Awards, Jemima “LittleJem” Puckett picked up Esports Cosplay of the Year award and became the first person in history to receive the award. Dr. Disrespect won Streamer of the Year with Craig “Mini Lad” Thompson winning an award for Content Creator of the Year. Esports Personality of the Year went to Matthew “Nadeshot” Haag. Esports Photographer of the Year was awarded to Stephanie Lindgren and Esports Videographer of the Year went to Logan Dodson of 100 Thieves.
2019’s Esports Awards was a booming event for esports. All forms of esports culture came together to highlight the biggest figures of the year. As the industry continues to grow, more individuals and companies will be worthy of awards. The 2020 Esports Awards is bound to be even more impressive.
Gaming Around the World
Another crucial element for media-technology organizations to consider is that esports is a global phenomenon (the 2019 Newzoo article estimates that 57% of esports enthusiasts are in the Asia-Pacific region), and the way in which fans tune in reflects that.
Whereas football fans might have a favorite local club or cricket fans a regional rivalry, esports fans largely follow individual players. Geographic loyalty or team obsession is much less prevalent in this vertical, so, even if you live in Dubai, you could be dedicatedly following a gamer based in Tokyo (although organizations like Blizzard are trying to get fans invested in local teams through leagues like OWL). Compounding this, beneath the esports umbrella, there are enthusiasts who care about only one game out of the dozens that currently drive esports’ popularity.
Esports also serves the purpose of educating or engaging new gamers with the mechanics of games at which they might still be novices. Said EA Head of Broadcasting Joe Lynch, speaking on the NAB panel, “Going by all these stats that we’ve looked at, the vast majority of the people who are watching are watching to learn. … As broadcasters and storytellers, we have to spend a lot of time teaching. NFL football games don’t do that. … They’ll do a little to explain the basic rules so you can enjoy the game, but they’re not going to go into the minutiae. … Those are the things we have to do as storytellers, and that part is really different.”
What does all this mean for distribution? Well, on a basic level, the distribution net for esports is far wider than for any other type of sports. If I’m an Overwatch super fan, I’m going to tune into OWL competitions no matter where in the world they are, time difference be damned. And, if I can’t check out a tournament because that time difference is a factor, I’m going to want (or expect) that I can watch that tournament at a different time, at my convenience.
Esports Is Here To Stay
The bottom line is simple: esports isn’t going anywhere. In 2018 alone, the industry saw $4.5 billion in investment.
The market, as it stands, is experiencing immense growth and a heretofore undreamt-of level of legitimacy, and with that comes a trove of needs and opportunities that media-technology businesses should be paying extremely close attention to.
At-home production and global distribution are elemental to esports, and with that comes an incredible demand for solutions that can support the workflows and the omnichannel content push that defines the industry. This will continue to be a growth driver for media technology and, certainly, for Signiant, as we provide intelligent file-transfer solutions to the entire value chain, including the game developers themselves, the broadcasters, and online streaming services.
No matter what your niche is, it would be absolutely foolish to dismiss esports as a fad. In the past, pro gaming might have been seen as a temporary craze or a fringe hobby, but the past half decade has done wonders to disprove that assumption. Dubai even announced construction of the first esports-exclusive stadium in the Middle East.
The esports wave is sweeping the world, and media-technology organizations should be paying attention. When it comes to production and distribution, the chances are immense.
If you’re committed to innovation, you’ll go where the innovators are.