It is now quite clear that competitive gaming is on the verge of blowing up and taking over the mainstream market – with backing from celebrities and mainstream brands it is only a matter of time before it hits big time. The most recent entrants into the eSports industry are superstar singer Jennifer Lopez and Arsenal’s majority shareholder Stan Kroenke both of whom have invested in eSports teams ahead of highly anticipated gaming competitions that will play a huge role in increasing the mainstream appeal of the already booming industry.
Jennifer Lopez bought into a team franchise that will participate in the world-renowned Overwatch League which will draw competing teams from cities like San Francisco, London, and Seoul among others. LA Gladiators, which is run by Kroenke will join in on the action once the global Overwatch League is launched in January 2018.
Kroenke and J-Lo join a host of stars who have seen the potential in eSports – they include Formula One driver Fernando Alonso as well as former basketball pro, Magic Johnson. According to Newzoo, a firm that offers market intelligence for eSports, the global eSports economy grew 34 percent year-on-year to about $660 million and is expected to hit a whopping $1.5 billion by 2020. Further estimates reveal that the current eSports audience count stands at about 385 million with a majority relying on streaming services like Twitch to watch the eSports broadcasts – Twitch currently boasts of over 400 million monthly views.
Gillette is one of the mainstream brands that have actively endorsed eSports – the company has shown deep interest in participating and integrating their brand with eSports brands. Aside from just investing in League of Legends, Gillette has gone further to add one of the game’s top players, Enrique “xPeke” Cedeno Martinez to its directory of sports stars which also happens to include Brazilian soccer star Neymar.
“If you look at the growth trajectory, the revenue, the viewing numbers, everything is going north,” says Gillette marketing executive, Adam Paris. “eSports is growing at a very rapid rate. Yes, it’s finding its feet, but it feels to me that we as an industry have been talking about investing in it for two to three years at trade show panel events, but I feel it’s time to move on from talking about it and make the jump.”