Esports is a professional sport that has an adrenaline rush that players and their millions of fans love and it offers much of the same excitement, rivalry and high stakes of traditional sports. We sat down with Madison Mann and Carlee Gress, professional players for Gen.G, a leading esports organization, to discuss the rise of this phenomenon.
“Traditional sports and esports are very similar in a sense, but esports is more mental strategy and less physical while being really fun to watch,” said Madison Mann, a player who earns a salary playing video games as her full-time career with Gen.G, “Esports is a lifestyle.”
By the year 2021, in the U.S., viewership of esports (84 million) is projected to be higher than the viewership of Major League Baseball (79 million), the National Basketball Association (63 million) and the National Hockey League (32 million). It will be second only to the National Football League.
Esports involves a group of players competing in a specific video game, such as Fortnite, Overwatch, Dota 2, League of Legends and FIFA 19, and being broadcast to hundreds of millions of fans who love to watch these esports players compete. Large prize pools are up for grabs at major esports tournaments, such as the $25 million for the 2018 winner of The International, an annual esports tournament for Dota 2 (compared to $12 million for a PGA golf tournament in the same year). Breaking into the mainstream, esports is rapidly being demystified and better understood by a wider audience worldwide.
“It’s a misconception that a lot of people think that people who play video games are violent, and that’s why more people are a little afraid to get into esports,” said Carlee Gress who, like Madison, is a professional esports player with Gen.G “The first thing is to introduce that it’s not really about violence; that’s a good step forward, showing esports to be like traditional sports and opening doors to people who are really not aware yet.”
Expanding Inclusion in Esports
Madison and Carlee are among the first females to ever become professional esports players, and they are paving the way for greater inclusion in esports.
“Carlee and I have a personal connection to esports,” said Madison in an exclusive interview with Panasonic Avionics. “We see ourselves as opening doors for more females to get involved in esports. There is a lot of toxicity and hate that we receive while playing and competing. But we are taking the hits for a lot of people, and we’re pushing the toxicity and hate away for more girls to get involved.”
As these rising female stars of esports assert themselves to redefine opportunities in the male-dominated esports leagues and tournaments, they train hard to play Fortnite at the Gen.G facility, a 13,000-square-foot esports training facility in west Los Angeles. The training regimen is similar to that of traditional athletes in terms of the intense dedication, advanced skill development, game planning, and tactical excellence.
“I’ve always been very competitive my whole life, and I like the thrill of esports,” said Madison.
The thrill and pageantry of top-tier esports are not only motivating players, however. They are also revving up reimagined possibilities for airlines to add esports to entertainment options for passengers to watch.
“Traditional sports and esports are very similar in a sense, but esports is more mental strategy and less physical, while being really fun to watch.”Madison Mann, esports player
Introducing esports inflight will make it possible for airlines to enhance the passenger experience for millions of people by providing more engaging inflight gaming viewing options. Also, esports is expected to help increase passenger loyalty and drive new business opportunities for airlines. Airlines, advertisers and sponsors will want to reach the esports fan base, who are in the appealing demographic of 18-34-year-old consumers.
In the future, esports fans who are the same demographic as a growing number of passengers may choose a flight based on the fact whether it will broadcast their favorite esports tournament. As fans, they will want to watch their favorite players, such as Madison and Carlee, compete head-to-head for the big prize money and to be taken seriously in mainstream society. It will be game-changing as inflight entertainment content.
Who would have thought video games would be a spectator sport with such wild popularity on par with football, baseball, basketball, hockey, tennis, golf, and other traditional sports? Because of next-generation digital gaming experiences, the time has arrived.
To learn more about Gen.G and to follow Madison and Carlee click here.