Esports, short for electronic sports, refers to competitive video gaming where professional players or teams compete in various multiplayer video games, participating in leagues, tournaments, and events, attracting both online and offline audiences. Ongoing digitalisation, due to increasing smartphone usage and rising awareness of gaming, together with faster and better technology opening up new possibilities, are all driving the growth of the market. In particular, streaming platforms such as Twitch and YouTube have been key to garnering interest in watching others play games as entertainment. Twitch in October 2023 had an average concurrent viewership of 2.5 Million viewers alone. The top most viewed games played were: Free to play games such as League of Legends, Dota 2 and Valorant; along with Counter Strike, EA Sports and Fortnite; all of which have their own passionate league of fans.


The global esports audience is expected to top 575 million in 2024, mostly young males. While the average age of sports fans is typically 50, for esports fans it is 26. According to, more than six of every ten internet users watching esports are between 16 to 35 years old. And while 46% of gamers globally identify as female, only 5% of esport players/ people working in esports are female.

For the League of Legends Worlds in 2022, there were 46,533,261 hours watched, with peak concurrent viewership at 1,390,933. In comparison to traditional sports in North America in 2021, esports has a viewership of 84 Million, only behind the NFL at 141 Million in viewership, yet ahead of the NBA and MLB; showing that there are a ton of eyes on esports, and that's only in North America. According to VentureBeat, 54% of the global esports market is in Asia. China holds the title of the biggest esports market, followed by the U.S. and Germany, while the rise of competitive gaming in South Korea has solidified it as another of the global powerhouses in the esports market.


While esports has yet to be classified as an Olympics sport (despite the campaigning), the professionalism - and fandoms - within the sport is akin to other professional sports. Like athletes, the players are performing at elite levels. Gaming for up to 15 hours a day means routine and care for players is key - from monitored diets to scheduled physical exercise. And as the notoriety of players and teams increases so too does the notoriety of investors. F1 driver, Lando Norris, has invested into esports by starting his own team called Quadrant as has Soccer Superstar Lionel Messi as co-owner of esports team KRU, while Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Drake, are all behind -the-scenes investors. As for the players, be mesmerised by the Skills of League of Legends ‘Faker’, known as the best player to play the game since its inception, Street Fighter’s Justin Wong, a fighting game legend winning 3 separate championships in 3 different games, Counter Strike’s Shroud, a Canadian FPS(first-person shooter) legend turned streamer, or Christine “potter” Chi, a former SK Ladies player and the current head coach of Evil Geniuses’ Valorant team, who won Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) Champions 2023.

Source: Worldwide revenue per market , Statista, updated Oct 2023

The esports market worldwide is now one of the fastest growing markets within the world of gaming, and is projected to reach a revenue of US$3.8bn in 2023. It can be divided into 6 different parts:

  • (1) Sponsorship & Advertising - revenues made from sponsorship deals and advertising for events and tournaments
  • (2) Merchandise & Ticketing - revenues generated mainly from tournament tickets and the merchandise that comes with it
  • (3) Streaming, (4) Media Rights & (5) Publisher Fees - revenue that is associated with broadcasting esports events
  • (6) Esports Betting - the betting on outcomes of esport events

Prize money for esports tournaments is also attracting more players and audiences. The total prize pot for the 8 biggest leagues last year came to over $143 million. DOTA (Defense of the Ancients) in 2021 holds one of the biggest prize pools in esports history at $40 Million. Valve, the publishers of DOTA, raises the games prize pools through community funding via bundles known as ‘Compendiums’ sold within the game. Players are offered cosmetic items to use in their game such as: character animations, stickers, etc; where a percentage of the compendium sale goes to the prize pool. And with the average League player’s salary (2020) reported to be around $410,000, it pays to be good


Since Oct 10th, The 2023 League of Legends World Championship has been taking place in South Korea, culminating at the Grand Finale at Gocheok Sky Dome stadium in Seoul on Nov 19th, watched in person by a 16,000+ crowd, with hundreds of thousands more tuning in online. Twenty-two teams from nine regions qualified for the tournament based on their placement in regional circuits, with only one team winning the coveted Worlds championship title and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ticket prices range from $23 (First Stage) to $189 (Finals). Bonus points if you are a Mastercard holder - Mastercard, as one of the global partners of Riot Games for the event, offers customers pre-sell offers.

Fan will also get to enjoy virtual K-pop boy band, Heartsteel performance (made up of human counterparts including Baekhyun from Exo and SuperM, ØZI, Tobi Lou and Cal Scruby), as well as sing along to the tournament theme song of Gods” performed by K-Pop girl band NewJeans, highlighting the cultural impact of esports beyond just gaming.

Regardless of what game I’m watching in esports, I always get hooked by the intensity of the competition. Pro players always execute the best tactics and exploit mechanics in a game that an average player would not think of. You also become part of this niche community with its own terminology that you feel special to be part of. I’ve never felt more ridiculous than when I caught myself tearing up with joy watching my favourite team CLG win their regional championship final in 2015 for the first time after years of struggles; against their biggest rival no less, and in Madison Square Garden, the first big venue to host such an event - it was a fairytale finish. For Worlds 2023, I’m looking forward to seeing how Faker’s new T1 roster fairs and for him to raise that trophy once again, cementing his status as the best to play the game.

Mark Luna, Gamer & Digital Motion Creator, THINKHOUSE

With esports continuing to garner more fans and more viewership (19-20% annual growth, mainly driven by Gen Z), brands the world over are opting to be part of a young, developing ecosystem. And for the majority, it’s paying off. According to a study by Nielsen Sports posted by Forbes, companies investing in teams participating in the League of Legends European Championships more than doubled ROI for sponsors between 2019 and the present day.

“The space of gaming and esports is fascinating, but one which requires a huge attitude shift for marketers. The dated view of gamers being a niche and somewhat isolated audience is gone. One of the most exciting parts of esports for me is the growth of rich communities online which are allowing people to create connections that are growing further offline... a great example is the recent inaugural Olympic Esports week held in Singapore where participants met in person to play online together!"

Conor Farrell, Head of Marketing, Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I


From tech brands to coffee brands and fashion brands participating in esports, key to successful activation is recognising the excellence in the sport, providing holistic support to esports players and teams, and working directly with them to engage their communities. As International Twitch Star and Social Media influencer, 26-year-old Georgina "Gee Nelly" Rose Nelly reminded us at our Game On Gaming event at THINKHOUSE HQ last year, Talk to us. Ask us for suggestions. Often companies come to me and they have everything laid out. We have ideas of what will work on our channels. Live-streaming with a prescriptive script won’t work. It’s not authentic.”