Esports, the industry of organized competitive gaming, has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity with an audience expected to reach over 575 million viewers worldwide in 2024. With the industry challenging some traditional sports for viewership, revenue has exploded such that top brands in Esports like TSM and 100 Thieves are now valued at over $450 million.
For game developers, Esports are a powerful marketing tool not only with advertisers flocking to broadcasts and live events, but to further engage casual players. It works – casual gamers watch their favorite players use in-game skins or weapons and are intrigued to purchase them.
More recently, the scene has added a new dimension: betting. Since the Supreme Court struck down laws banning sports betting in 2018, gambling on Esports has grown to an over $9.5 billion industry. ARK Invest predicts it will be a $37 billion market in 2025.
All of these players in the Esports landscape, from competitive gamers, to casual players, to teams and bettors have something in common. They want a competitive advantage, because nobody wants to lose.
How do they get a competitive advantage? Data.
Let’s explore the five ways that data is the next frontier of Esports.
#1 The growth of Esports betting
Data is a key facet to Esports betting in two ways.
First, oddsmakers need the best available data analytics to have the most informed approach to setting odds for matches. Second, Esports bettors need accurate, enriched, and live data to make decisions when placing bets.
Even traditional sports oddsmakers recognizing this have begun acquiring Esports data firms to seize opportunity in the space. The problem is that there’s a significant gap between Esports leagues and betting services.
Bayes Esports CEO Martin Dachelt recently explained that data from the top Esports leagues is disorganized, if not scarce. In essence, there’s a gap of real-time data from official matches and oddsmakers.
Providing a stream of data and statistics that gives the audience an empowered perspective on what’s going on in the game not only helps viewers to place more informed bets, but it improves the overall viewer experience for non-bettors as well. But what would it take to provide this experience?
The answer is a powerful data-scraping tool. Fortunately, the team at Invisible has done this before – scraping data to digitize hundreds of thousands of menus for the top players in food delivery.
Data is on the menu. Game on!
#2 Giving Esports teams a competitive advantage
Like in traditional sports where data analysts are an increasingly hot commodity (see the film Moneyball), Esports teams are leveraging data to gain advantages in training, prospecting for talent, and improving performance. Take T1, the winningest organization in the game League of Legends, for example.
T1 recently invested in Mobalytics, a Esports analytics startup to support training staff and build out talent development programs. T1 CEO Joe Marsh said the organization made the investment because, “All of our players, coaches, and teams across the T1 portfolio rely on in-game analytics…”
Tech giant Microsoft entered the space recently to help another team, Cloud9, level up through data analytics. They co-developed a tool that allows Cloud9’s Valorant team to better review VODs (Video on Demand, aka game tape).
The Video Review Tool uses machine learning to identify critical moments in games and collects and displays key metadata from the game. Alexander Castro, Program Manager at Microsoft, says the tool is “just scratching the surface.”
The next step: better in-game analytics. Coaches can leverage Invisible’s live feed data scraping capabilities to have a close to real time view of what’s happening in the game.
#3 Giving casual players an edge
Not only are professional teams taking advantage of data analytics to get an edge, casual players are now leaning on third-party analytics platforms to improve their own play. Tools like Blitz, which calls itself “your personal gaming coach,” provide pre-game, in-game, and post-game data insights that users can employ.
For example, Blitz’s League of Legends integration displays a pre-game dashboard with data on your opponents and teammates like their recent win/loss percentages, in addition to advice on the best items to purchase in the game for your character. For LoL and another title it supports, Valorant, the platform provides analysis after the match based on events of the game.
Those are significant upgrades to the gaming experience from even just a few years ago, but what does the future of casual gaming look like now? How about a second screen of actionable live game data, visualized for seamless use as a player games?
Just a thought.
#4 Upgrading the Esports viewing experience
Esports viewership is expected to grow 11.5% this year from what it was in 2021. Of the millions watching, there exists a spectrum of engagement among viewers from casual spectators to hardcore fans.
Both the occasional and the die-hard viewer stand to benefit from an improved, data-driven user experience. In fact, it’s one area in which Esports could have an improved viewer experience over traditional sports. Here’s how.
Virtual games ingest data instantaneously. Just about every aspect of a game, start to finish, is translated into code by nature.
This data can be helpful to the casual viewer in helping walk them through what’s happening in a game, even if they’re new to it. For the Esports fanatic, this data can be a fascinating picture into the deep nuances of each match.
The possibilities are limitless.
Contrast that with a professional basketball game, for example. Imagine if you could not only watch a game, but simultaneously see a dashboard with live stats like the speed at which a player ran down the court, how many passes each team has made, or even how close a shot was to falling?
For traditional sports that day might come. For Esports, it could come in the not-so-distant future.
#5 Content creators
Content creators and influencers in the Esports space are extremely popular. Live-streams on Twitch.tv and Youtube content generate millions of views for the top influencers. Facebook Gaming even recently committed $2 billion to support gaming content creators.
The key to being a successful influencer is, of course, making great content. Data integration presents a unique opportunity for content creators to upgrade their streams.
Fans watch these creators not just because they’re entertaining, but often because they are skilled players of the games they create content for. Viewers learn how to improve their own play as they watch.
The next frontier for creators would be to track and display data of their gameplay over time–giving their audience enhanced visibility into their favorite influencers’ performance. Think of this like a third-party platform for viewers to reference.
Pulling on our expertise of building out live data dashboards for clients, Invisible could provide that experience.
How do I get started with Invisible?
If you’re looking to bring the next frontier of data into your branch of the Esports scene, Invisible is ready to help. Get started here and someone on our dedicated accounts team will get in touch with you.
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