Whilst some problems in esports will decelerate the industry’s growth, there are some that are positive to have. With consolidation, and therefore longevity in mind, we must therefore bring this problem to question: who is responsible for nurturing raw skill?

In terms of fan engagement, esports is following a similar trajectory to major sports, so we can expect leading esport titles to begin to form their own major leagues that capture a majority of the market share. With game developers very much central to esport titles, the IP for these major leagues will most likely be owned by them. Many of these games are now created with the intention of becoming not just popular, but long-lasting esport titles.

So, considering the above, the need for a formalised infrastructure to nurture talent and develop skill is essential. As an esport grows, there will be a need for game developers to work with independent competition organisers to support their competitive circuits. This may include partnering with organisers to support the independent operations of qualifying tournaments or minor leagues.

Esports: An Industry Founded on Skill

Looking at some esport titles, the skill gap between casual gamers and the professionals we watch compete in the upper echelons of competition is immense. Like traditional sports, esports relies on being better than your opponent; at the top level, skill far outweighs talent. Talent may be natural indeed, but skill is made.

The Fortnite World Cup is a perfect example of this. Fortnite has received great scrutiny in it’s two-year history: stories of concerned parents calling for the game to be banned; stories of concerned parents citing their child’s “gaming addiction”; and generally, the game being “a waste of time” with very no foreseeable long-term reward. The Fortnite World Cup turned this on its head, though, demonstrating that the game was more than just a violent chaotic frenzy and thus cemented itself as a respectable esport.

And now, looking at the increasingly competitive nature of esports, coupled with much larger prize pools, there is a much greater need for players to constantly develop their skills to remain the very best in their chosen esport.

Team Liquid’s CEO, Steve Arhancet, opens new training facility.

The Path To Pro: A Widening Gap

For an esport to survive the true test of time, a pyramidical hierarchy must form: casual players, casually competitive, elite competitive, and a handful of the very best. Without this structure, an esport will struggle to thrive. This pyramidical player base is imperative for producing some of esports’ top players; there must be deep consideration of the path to pro.

Players at base of the pyramid are driven by fun. Players that have broken into the professional scene are often able to create value for themselves and so the costs associated with training are not an issue. They will be signed by the very best teams, have sponsorship deals in place, or boast extremely large social media followings, which we know can be very lucrative. Though there are cases of players not receiving payment, generally speaking, they will receive revenue from at least one of these.

The pipeline problem therefore focuses on the mid-tier of amateur players that see a career competing in an esport. Provisions for amateur players are rare due to the fact they do not create enough value for organisations to support them and the cost of training is very expensive. At the same time, they may have work commitments to pay bills, or simply not have adequate funds to support their gaming. Training is crucial and without an infrastructure to cover the financial costs of training, the skill gap will only widen further.

Credit: Engadget

The lifespan of esports’ will vary. It is unclear what esports titles will still be relevant in two, five, or even 10 years time, so some may not survive long enough to even consider their pipeline problem. Selecting from a pool of amateur players that are skilled enough for top-tier competitions is essential— traditional sports thrive because there is an upward stream of players making it from amateur to professional, after all. Granted the provisions required differ, but esports can learn a lot from how traditional sport nurtures their future stars.

Our platform will begin to encourage longevity in the selected titles supported on release, and eventually beyond. Next, we shed light on how the IGGalaxy’s Q4 public beta release will set the context to provide a solution to the pipeline problem explored here.

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