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Esports Coronavirus Quarantine Indoor Sports

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In the Quarantine Age, an indoor sport seizes center stage

Four men appeared on my television at 2 p.m. in neat rectangles. The backgrounds varied. Barren white walls in one, a few frames in another. A window, some furniture. They all had headsets. One wore a burgundy suit and tie. The others went more casual in the confines of their homes.

The gathering resembled the Zoom video chats we have staged with coworkers and friends since the coronavirus outbreak shut down pretty much everything. But this setting was different than our virtual happy hours and mundane meetings.

It was the broadcast for the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS). League of Legends, a multiple-player online battle arena game developed by Riot Games and released in 2009, is the most popular esports title in the world with up to eight million gamers logging on daily to play on their computers. The LCS, which was created in 2012, is the game’s highest level of competition in North America.

It is also one of the few remaining live entertainment options afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands were concurrently watching the stream, presented by a large mainstream advertiser, State Farm, on Twitch and YouTube. It was back online after a one-week hiatus, pushing forward when much of society had skidded to a halt. The matches, regularly held in West Los Angeles in front of a few hundred fans, were staged remotely.

“We feel like we’re weathering the storm pretty well,” LCS commissioner Chris Greeley said, “but obviously, as it is for everyone, it’s still a storm.”

I’m a casual gamer. Stick and ball sports were my preference growing up, though in recent years my time has been limited to playing shooters online with friends. It’s a social activity, and one of the few available since COVID-19 arrived. After downloading the game on my laptop, I tried following along with the ad hoc broadcast, curious and confused. I didn’t know the rules or the point of the game but, holed up in my apartment, I welcomed the live competition. The pickings have never been slimmer on a Saturday afternoon.

This should be one of the most exciting periods on the sports calendar. The NCAA Tournament going mad, the start of baseball season, battles for playoff seeding in the NBA, the Masters right around the next magnolia bush, even the XFL for a football fix if mock NFL drafts didn’t suffice.

But those events were postponed for the foreseeable future, if not canceled completely, leaving playing video games — and watching others play them — as two of the limited choices left to sate our social and entertainment thirst. As stadiums and arenas go silent, there is a growing din in a corner of the landscape that until now has largely been drowned out by more traditional, mainstream sports.

It’s coming from the more than 150 million Americans who identify as gamers, and not just the influencers who have become wealthy stars: Ninja, PewDiePie, PrestonPlayz, Markiplier. It’s NBA stars challenging each to other to Call of Duty; teens playing Fortnite at 3 a.m. on indefinite leave from school; 9-to-5 workers at home sneaking in FIFA games between Zoom meetings. It’s me.

Esports were built for the quarantine culture because, to some degree, isolation always has been a part of its DNA. And with hundreds of millions now shut in for the time being, an already robust community senses an opportunity.

“It is an absolutely terrible thing that’s happening around the world,” Ryan Friedman said. “Obviously, it’s a huge net negative, but with the cancellation of traditional sports, a lot of people who would have never given esports a chance are going to start at least looking into it and that’s a good opportunity for esports to draw in a bunch of new viewers.”

Friedman is the chief of staff of Dignitas, an organization with teams in various esports acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2016. He is also the younger brother of Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations. While Andrew’s team sat idle on opening day last week, wondering if Major League Baseball would have a 2020 season, Ryan’s franchise, one of the 10 in the LCS, stayed busy.

Esports — broadly defined as professional competition using video games — had several major events on the calendar canceled, but most entities have been able to continue competition knowing an amplified audience is available. Evidence of the opportunity is found on Twitch, the go-to streaming platform for casual and professional gaming.

People are streaming and watching streams more than ever since the outbreak began taking hold, according to and TwitchTracker.com and SullyGnome.com, which monitor Twitch audiences. The platform has set all-time highs this month in peak daily active users (22.7 million), average concurrent viewers (1.6 million), and number of streamers (65,000).

“In esports, the show can go on,” esports lawyer Bryce Blum said. “We can transition back to our roots.”

The increase has not, however, been as uniform for conventional esports events. A few esports have seen instant growth in viewers, such as Rocket League and the ESL Pro League, a 24-team Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition that recently enjoyed its most-watched broadcast day in history. Conversely, League of Legends has experienced a year-over-year jump of around 20,000 viewers on Twitch this month, but has seen a dip since the LCS opened its spring season to great fervor in late January.

The industry is nascent but not new with consumers around the world. Money has flooded into the space over the last decade to fuel a booming enterprise that has eclipsed $1 billion globally. And plenty of that capital has been supplied by leaders in traditional sports.

In 2016, Dodgers co-owner Peter Guber and Ted Leonsis, owner of the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Washington Capitals, led a group that bought controlling interest in Team Liquid, recognized as the most successful esports organization in history. Dan Gilbert, owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, invested in an organization and the Golden State Warriors founded one in 2017.

The infusion accelerated the industry’s expansion. Live competitions with massive audiences became common. Events filled Staples Center and Madison Square Garden. Millions of dollars have been awarded to players in different games, and several players boast career earnings of more than $1 million.

In recent weeks, traditional sports entities with esports partnerships have turned to the virtual world after their schedules were abruptly detonated. Leonsis’ Monumental Sports and Entertainment Group recently began airing one-hour video game simulations of previously scheduled Wizards and Capitals games on NBC Sports Washington. Formula 1 ran a race with professional drivers and gamers that aired on Twitch. On Friday, MLB held a tournament with four major leaguers on MLB: The Show 20 and steamed it on different platforms.

NASCAR aired a virtual version of the Dixie Vodka 150 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on FOX two Sundays ago with the participants using racing simulators remotely. The real-life NASCAR racers who participated were not rookies to the platform — racers have used virtual simulators as practice tools for the real thing for years. The results were proof.

Denny Hamlin, a three-time Daytona 500 winner, edged out retired driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the win in a $40,000 iRacing rig at his house, barefoot with his daughter cheering behind him. NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon was one of three people on the call for the 35-car race from a studio in Charlotte. The inaugural event drew more than 900,000 viewers, making it the highest-rated esports television program in history.

On Sunday, Timmy Hill, a 27-year-old pro driver who has never won a NASCAR Cup Series race, won the second virtual race at Texas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR chief digital officer Tim Clark said the plan is to continue staging virtual versions of its races, following the usual schedule, until its season resumes. As it stands, the on-track season is suspended until May 9.

For its part, the League of Legends Championship Series confronted the coronavirus outbreak like traditional sports leagues, realizing quickly that continuing as usual was irresponsible.

A day after announcing plans to proceed without a studio audience, media and non-essential personnel, the league on March 13 postponed that weekend’s competition entirely. Four days later, the league announced it was going remote for the foreseeable future.

Greeley, the commissioner, said the decision was not easy. In-person events not only make for better entertainment, but better competition. Playing remotely could lead to slower connections, which impacts gameplay. And players are less supervised, opening opportunities for cheating. The league spent the next week devising a plan to limit network issues and rule-breaking.

On Wednesday, LCS announced the rest of the season, including the finals, which originally were scheduled to be held in a 12,000-seat stadium at the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility in Frisco, Texas, April 18-19, would take place online.

“We can play from home,” said Steve Arhancet, co-owner and CEO of Team Liquid, the reigning LCS champions. “That makes us a much more resilient entertainment industry when it comes to competitive sports.”

The 10-team LCS returned from its one-week postponement with five matches. The battles comprised Week 8 of the competition’s spring split. A team named Cloud 9 won both of its matches, improving its league-best record in the march toward a $200,000 prize pool to supplement player salaries that average more than $300,000.

 

Esports Expansion Through 2025

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Japan to set ambitious target for esports expansion through 2025

The Japanese government plans an ambitious expansion of the domestic esports industry through cooperation with the private sector to help revitalize local economies and increase social participation of people with disabilities, hoping to realize annual economic benefits totaling 285 billion yen ($2.6 billion) in five years, sources close to the matter said.

While the number of players and spectators is rising in the global esports market currently estimated at 100 billion yen with the United States, China and parts of Europe seeing fast growth, the idea of competitive gaming as a sports event is catching on only slowly in Japan where titles provided for personal use on smartphones and home-use consoles of Nintendo Co. and Sony Corp. account for a dominant portion of the video game market.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will work together with companies in the gaming industry and legal experts to draw up guidelines for promoting the country’s esports industry, which lacks expertise in organizing large tournaments and dealing with legal issues such as intellectual property of game developers, the sources said.

Through such collaborative efforts, the ministry expects that ticket sales to spectators of tournaments, fees for online viewing and advertising revenue, along with economic effects on local economies from hosting such events and companies supplying related equipment, would amount to at least 285 billion yen in 2025.

According to marketing research and news service company BCN Inc., the size of Japan’s esports market is expected to grow from 6.1 billion yen in 2019 to 15.3 billion yen in 2023, propelled by the greater use of 5G telecommunication services and more game title providers entering the market. Its data consist of advertising revenue which accounts for about 75 percent of the market, licensing fees, media rights, ticket sales, prize money and merchandise sales.

There have been attempts at a local level in Japan to use esports for its health and social benefits.

A nonprofit organization near Tokyo, Saitama City Citizens Social Network, has established an association to organize esports events for retired residents with an aim of improving their cognitive health, claiming it is the first of its kind in the world.

n Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, an esports event for people with disabilities was held using special controllers developed for their different individual needs.

Esports In Quarantine

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Online IGEC panel: “Esports in quarantine: how to survive the new normal”

Our annual esports networking conference, IGEC (Inven Global Esports Conference), has been postponed in order to adhere to social distancing and flatten the Corona Virus curve. In place of an in-person IGEC filled with panels and talks, we are moving to a digital format to keep our readers and panelists safe amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Our first panel of many more to come is the unavoidable topic everyone must face: “Esports in quarantine: how to survive the new normal”.  This panel discussion will address the unease and worry surrounding esports, especially with regards to freelancers, esports organizations, and tournament organizers.

This panel is scheduled this Friday, March 27th at 2:00 PM PST.

The participants

Inven Global’s Director of Corporate Strategy, Nick D’Orazio will be moderating the upcoming panel. As a veteran esports journalist, event producer and panelist, Nick is leading Inven Global’s digital pivot into the new quarantine normal.

How will esports survive when all of our major events are canceled? What are the habits, tips, or methods being used by industry leaders to adapt to a new work-from-home lifestyle? Lastly, what does esports and gaming career advice look like during a global pandemic?

These topics and more will be discussed by our diverse panel:

Scott Adametz serves as the Esports Tech Lead at Riot Games. Over the past decade Scott has launched national media networks for FOX, Big Ten & Pac-12 Conferences. He joined Riot Games, developers of League of Legends and operators of 12 professional leagues, 3 years ago.

As the Esports Tech Lead at Riot Games, Scott specializes in developing new media workflows, finding unique solutions, and advancing broadcast technology. He supports a global team of engineers that support thousands of events across our Esports regions including marquee shows: All Stars, MSI and Worlds. Current projects include supporting development of a fully-remote broadcast production model, ensuring global competitive integrity and maintaining our global Esports infrastructure.

Scott is an award-winning innovator, self-starter and team builder with a passion for innovative live, scalable solutions in production environments. Over the past decade he has launched national media networks for FOX, Big Ten & Pac-12 Conferences. His specialties include developing media workflows, finding unique solutions and, through innovation, enabling the cost-effective production of over 9000 live events to date.

Ryan “Gootecks” Gutierrez is an American Street Fighter player and the man behind one of Twitch’s most popular emotes, PogChamp. He is a long-time veteran of the fighting game community (FGC) and leads his team at Cross Counter TV to make incredibly authentic content to his passionate audience.  Always planning ahead for the next opportunity withing the FGC, Gootecks has strong opinions on what aspiring esports workers need to do in order to make.

Trisha Hershberger is a popular figure in the tech, gaming, and entertainment industry as a host and content creator. Trisha has previous experience being a panelist at popular conventions such as San Diego Comic-Con and being a moderator at last year’s IGEC.

Like most, Trisha has adapted to COVID-19 and its effect on the industry and will share her techniques and experiences to those interested in a similar career.

Freya Fox is a freelancer who is affected by the cancellation of various gaming events such as E3 due to COVID-19. As an influencer across social media such as Instagram, these events are vital to creating content for her fans. Freya’s offers a unique perspective from a dedicated freelancer who has made a living working in esports and gaming and will share her thoughts on how the industry should proceed moving forward.

Will Betting On eSports

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With most sports on hiatus, will betting on eSports become popular?

The Coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of the NBA, MLB, NHL, and professional soccer seasons, as well as the outright cancellation of the NCAA March Madness tournament. The Tokyo Olympics have been postponed until at least 2021.

So what are sports bettors betting on now? Last week, the sports on the home page of popular online sportsbook DraftKings’s website that people could bet on were professional darts, German soccer, the Kontinental Hockey League, and New Zealand cricket.

If there are limited sports to bet on, sports betting will obviously suffer. To fill the vacuum, sportsbooks are getting creative.

“We remain as committed as ever to giving our fans more ways to win,” a FanDuel spokesperson told MarketWatch. “We’re currently working to develop new, entertaining games which we hope will be a fun diversion during this uncertain time.

Sports betting site FanDuel offered its first ever political bets for the most recent Democratic candidate debate. A few of the posted debate bets were which candidate, Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, would say “coronavirus” more often, and whether or not “Iraq” would be mentioned. It is not currently legal to bet on the outcome of political elections in the United States, only prop bets such as these are allowed.

Other popular wagers according to FanDuel during this coronavirus sports stoppage were special contests for the reality TV show Survivor, and what Tom Brady’s next team will be. The former New England Patriots quarterback has now signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Jason Ader, a well-known gambling industry expert and CEO of SpringOwl Asset Management, says this could also be an interesting period for a new form of sports betting known as virtual sports.

“The virtual sports industry is a real industry we are seeing growth in,” Ader told MarketWatch. “People are betting on virtual sports. It’s computer playing against the computer.”

Popular games to bet on are League of legends, World of Warcraft, and Fifa. “I suspect this could be a moment for Esports,” Ader continues. “If it isn’t, it will never be.”

No gaming companies contacted for this story would disclose specifics as to how much money has been wagered on Esports or virtual sports in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, but Ader claims that Esports betting is up 19% year over year.

Las Vegas, the sports betting capital of the U.S., has been devastated by the effects of the coronavirus shutdown. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak ordered a 30-day freeze on non-essential business, including gambling, for his state. Nevada averaged $441 million total bet per month in 2019.

The governor’s directive impacts the casino resorts, sportsbooks, and convenience store slot machines. Last week, the famous Las Vegas Strip will be shut down for the first time since the JFK assassination in 1963.

 

The Deanbeat Esports Pivots To Digital

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The DeanBeat: Esports pivots to digital because of the coronavirus

As the coronavirus epidemic accelerated, esports had to change. The first sign was when Blizzard canceled its events in China on January 29, to protect the safety of people who gathered at live events at stadiums in China to cheer on their favorite esports stars.

And now, all of the esports events are being canceled at physical venues, whether they’re at small internet cafes, movie theaters, or large stadiums. Fortunately, unlike sporting leagues like the NBA and the NHL, esports teams have the option of pivoting to digital competitions.

The change is wrenching for the people working at the venues and supporting physical events, but esports can permanently benefit and grow from this as well, according to interviews I did with esports company CEOs and other experts this week.

All of life is moving to digital, with people working from isolated homes and sheltering in place. It’s tragic on a global scale, and no one wants to be perceived as taking advantage of this, said Ann Hand, CEO of Super League Gaming, in an interview. But in the name of both preserving and creating new jobs and meaningful new work for people, the esports industry is pivoting. (We’ll be talking about this change at our online-only GamesBeat Summit 2020 event on April 28-29.)

Like many other esports companies, Super League Gaming is not making money on its combined physical and digital businesses, which include holding amateur esports tournaments in movie theaters and running a Minehut community for kids to play Minecraft together.

“You never feel good about talking about bright spots of opportunity when the world is in such a dire place,” Hand said. “But I do take comfort that gaming is bigger than TV and three times the size of the box office, and it’s an important way that people are going to stay socially connected during this time.”

Super League Gaming’s Minehut only-only community has grown from 3,000 concurrent (simultaneous) users during the week to 13,800 users for the past three days. That’s a small crowd, but it’s up 360% in the last two weeks. Viewers for the community’s pages are above 500,000 a day in the last four days, and that’s compared to 150,000 per day in February.

Across the world, esports is growing

Berlin-based G2 Esports was founded in 2014, and it built its business for online infrastructure. Adapting to online isn’t as hard, as most of the playing for qualifiers takes place online, with only the finals occurring in person. To deal with the loss of physical events, the company is coming up with different twists to make digital events more interesting.

“Our viewership numbers are going up 30%,” said Carlos Rodriguez, CEO of G2 Esports, in an interview. “It’s unfortunate, as the events are taking place in such a bad time. But it is welcome and unexpected.”

For instance, Spanish pro soccer players Sergio Reguilon and Borja Iglesias played out the canceled real-world Seville derby as a digital event on FIFA 20 (the real match was scheduled to be played on Sunday). G2 Esports content creator, Ibai “Ibai” Llanos, hosted the match and had the opportunity to teach the football stars how to play League of Legends.

At its peak, 62,000 people watched a stream of the game and the streaming numbers of the Seville derby were two or three times greater than usual.

“It’s honestly a nice moment fo companies that rely on content and social media to reinvent themselves and be able to show their community, which happens to be in the real world, and stay relevant to them in the digital world,” said Rodriguez. “Technology becomes more relevant to people, the more time people spend at home. The more time at home, the more entertainment becomes relevant to them. And it’s no accident that Netflix said Fortnite is its biggest competitor.”

The bigger picture for esports

On the macro side, it’s clear people need entertainment at home, whether it’s Netflix, porn, TikTok, or video games. A lot of the negative stigma around games as greater slices of the population play.

And so people are turning to games, as Verizon said its online gaming activity is in the U.S. since the coronavirus quarantines went into effect last week. Last weekend, Steam surpassed a record 20 millon concurrent players. And Call of Duty: Warzone, a new battle royale game in the combat series, grew to 16 million players in four days.

Viewership on Twitch is up 10%, and 15% on YouTube Gaming compared to a week ago, according to Doron Nir, CEO of livestreaming tool and service provider SteamElements.

“This past week we saw an increase in livestreaming viewership in Italy and Australia where different approaches have been taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus),” Nir said in an email. “Based on data from our analytics partner Arsenal.gg, we now have a global snapshot of viewership growth. With more stay-at-home mandates being issued around the world and the entertainment industry finding new ways to migrate their offerings to livestreaming platforms, we expect to see these numbers rise.”

Before the virus hit, M&A advisors at Quantum Tech Partners estimated that esports could hit $4 billion in revenue by 2022, and market researcher Newzoo estimated the total esports audience number would grow to 495 million people in 2020.

The joke is that antisocial gamers have been preparing for this day all of their lives. But the truth is that “games are the new social network,” said Adrian Montgomery, CEO of Enthusiast Gaming, which has a collection of game and esports properties with 150 million users a month. Enthusiast Gaming owns the Luminosity esports team, as well as properties like The Escapist, Sims Resource, and Pocket Gamer.

“People think that kids in the basement are being antisocial and cooped up in their rooms,” Montgomery said, in an interview. “But the reality is they’re getting online, forging new relationships, making friends with people all across the world, and it’s a social network for them. So in a world that we live in now with social distancing becoming a reality, gaming allows people the opportunity to be social.”

Montgomery said his company’s Sims Resource site doubled in page views from 6 million views to 12 million views in the past week.

In this sense, the coronavirus is accelerating trends that were already pushing gaming and esports forward. And one of the things that is pushing it dramatically now is the absence of traditional sports programming.

“In some ways, this is the opportunity for esports, though I’m not sure it’s the one anybody wanted,” said Kevin Klowden, managing economist and executive director at the Milken Institute’s Center for Regional Economics, in an interview. “Suddenly, the major sports networks have no programming. People actually want to watch games. Nobody is in a better position to take advantage of this, in terms of having content, than esports. Productions are suspended in entertainment for a while.”

And eventually, people are going to get tired of reruns. By contrast, esports fans love to watch the esports pros play games over and over again. The big question is whether the excitement of in-person physical events, with thousands of people roaring at a championship esports match, carry over into a digital-only event without a studio audience?

“Stadiums were an add-on,” Klowden said. “They were nice to have, but they weren’t core to the business model.”

The birth of live esports

In some ways, esports is returning to its roots in that way, said Craig Levine, chief strategy officer at ESL North America, in an interview. Esports started out as online competitions, and people only started showing up at stadiums starting in 2013. That year, Katowice, Poland’s Spodok arena was home to Intel and ESL’s world championship for esports events for League of Legends and StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm. 50,000 people turned out, and more than 500,000 watched.

Now the event draws more than 100,000 people in person. And now the live events are canceled.

“This is Back to the Future for us,” Levine said. “Now that there are travel bans, self-quarantining, and social distancing, it was fairly easy for us to be agile and adapt back to online. We created a dynamic and still exciting product.”

But it was still painful. Eleven hours before the Katowice event was supposed to open on February 28, the local government ordered its closure for a live audience. The competition still took place — without 100,000 screaming people in the audience. Still, the Counter-Strike competition for the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship was the most-watched non-major event ever.

“There was definitely a pivot, but with our 20 years of experience, we understood how our products could change and how we could ensure their integrity,” Levine said. “We didn’t miss one day of broadcasts. But I’ll be honest with you. This was uncharted territory. There wasn’t a playbook for” the coronavirus.

Racing to broadcast TV

Over in Miami, Torque Esports has a physical business with race car events and a digital business with racing car simulator esports events. And now the company’s All-Star Esports Battle race set a record, and a second one is planned for Saturday with drivers from real Formula 1 races participating in esports competitions.

“Eight days ago, 92% of our business was physical racing, and 8% was esports,” said Darren Cox, CEO of Torque Esports, in an interview. “Now, 87% is esports and 13% is physical. Our digital event took off with a half million views. It was a massive win.”

Cox said his company is holding talks with big media companies about turning the content into television shows on traditional sports networks.

“You have to be respectful of the situation we’re in, but we’re having those conversations,” Cox said. “The revenue model has gone upside down. I never expected to have a revenue line that was called ‘broadcast rights.’ Suddenly, I have to expand my Excel spreadsheet and put a big fat line there. We have people knocking on our door. 10 days ago, that was nonsense.”

Now the question is whether digital-only events will continue for an extended period of time. Without knowing that, it’s hard for anyone to plan in advance. And what happens when traditional sports comes back? Will it supplant the new esports content on broadcast TV?

“Now that we’ve stabilized the ship a little bit, we’re having interesting conversations about how we can create new inventory and new experiences around different game types,” Levine at ESL said. “A trend that is worth watching is the convergence of competitive gaming with more established forms of entertainment. You see labor mobility from film and content, streaming lifestyle content, sports, and gaming.”

Changes for deal makers

“This is a global pandemic, and there is tons of bad news,” said Ari Segal, CEO of the Immortals esports company. “The reality is there are more people at home, fewer content options, and entertainment has a role to play. Gaming can fill that void. I heard that all Los Angeles Best Buys were out of Xbox Ones. We launched our new Counter-Strike League and the top match had peak concurrent viewership of 100,000.”

That was far higher than other esports events in the past. Sponsorship budgets are being shifted on the fly from traditional sports to esports, Segal said, and media rights for broadcasting are accelerating, as Fox Sports can only show so many reruns before people demand live content.

Segal also believes that esports deal activity will change. Quantum Tech Partners estimated that $1 billion worth of deals were done in 2019, with 33 transactions during the year, with 13 of those involving esports teams.

“For 30 to 90 days, the deal-making will slow,” Segal said. “That said, there will be consolidation. Certain businesses won’t have access to private capital. Their strategic combinations will put businesses in a better position to ride out the storm.”

“We would expect competitive gaming as an industry outperforms other industries in the next several months,” Segal said. “There’s a lot of conversation about gaming. We knew this was an inevitability, but it feels like it has spend up even more than we thought.”

Getting accustomed to digital fans

“When you look at this extraordinary circumstance that we have, with traditional sports on hiatus, esports stands alone as being able to continue,” said Jason Lake, CEO of the Complexity esports organization, in an interview. “It’s tough on the event side, with the brick-and-mortar event cancellations. But we can go online and play against each other.”

He added, “We’ve seen a huge uptick in viewership across games. The chosen pastime of this generation is gaming. There’s a unique chance to show a lot of new viewers the product that we have, and that it is compelling.”

Sadly, Complexity built a brand new headquarters last year in Dallas, but its players can no longer use that state-of-the-art facility. But the players can still play their games. But the team has to pay attention to the isolation of players who are normally given an emotional boost by fans who cheer them on in person.

“Still, they can still go online and have 250,000 people watching them now,” Lake said. “Nothing can replace being in a stadium with 20,000 screaming people. But they can go on Twitch and see 100,000 people in the chat session. For now, that will have to suffice.”