E-Sports are going BIG in the Middle East!… it was about time!

in Business by

Story by: Jacob (Beuro chief)

It is not a secret that the E-Sport market has been growing fast for quite some time, powered by millennials in the 24-35 years of age. From these millennials around 85% are men and 15% women according to a study performed with Google Analytics. We expect the Middle East soon would get a boost from the construction of the Dubai X-Stadium as announced last year with the TECOM Group.

With this E-Sport venue created in the Middle East, the sky is the limit, and perhaps it would be added to the ESL League, one of the most famous and more lucrative leagues in the world. Certainly, we want to see the biggest names in E-Sports LIVE in the Region like the great FAKER, FEAR, NINJA, PPD, and more, along with the famous Twitch and YouTube Streamers, commentators along with COSPLAY and more events associated with the gaming community.

However, it is possible to say that gamers to be “Athletes” or even more Professional Athletes? For the average person this might be insane, how someone playing a video game can make 5 million USD or more a year in a single tournament? BELIEVE IT! Professional gamers train as hard as any other athletes, such as in soccer, basketball, runners, or any other professional sport to maintain mental and physical fitness, and on top of that there are the sponsorships computers, mice, monitors, chairs, you name it there is a sponsor for it.

To make it more dramatic, the demand for engineers, managers, and people with competitive gaming experience has skyrocket all over the world, what it seems to be a very lucrative market if done right. As mentioned by the Dubai Media Office, “Dubai X-Stadium will be positioned to play a central role by hosting world-class esports events”.  No doubt that the Middle East has the potential to become a fertile ground for amazing players in E-Sports, but the question is what is behind these events?

To help us with this question, we interviewed Brianna Earsley, Marketing Director for Battleground Zero, a UK based competitive gaming company while visiting Dubai for prospective locations and possible partners, and promoting their new E-Sport Intercontinental Cup, a series of online tournaments expected to launch in the middle of April 2019 from their website www.battlegroundzero.us and           www.battlegroundzero.co.uk.

What is the current situation in E-Sports around the world, do you think it is reaching a maturity level or there is still room to grow? Brianna: first we are so happy to be in the Middle East, we think there is huge potential in this region to be the next big thing, the infrastructure is already here, a city like Dubai has the experience, technology and education to be able to raise to the occasion. Also, the physical location is perfect in the center of all major financial centers in the region and its proximity to Asia where E-Sports is huge, makes Dubai a great contender supported by the X-Stadium. Certainly, we believe that there is more room to grow massively in the region, and we are here exploring the possibilities, and identifying local partners that we can work together. In general, It is expected the Esports market to reach over 220 billion USD worldwide by 2020, however with the Dubai X-Stadium it is expected other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Oman and others to follow accordingly, and can make these forecasts to be easily tripled.

Which are the countries where E-Sports is most popular?

Brianna: Sweden, Canada, Korea rank high in the E-Sports radar, followed closely by other countries in Europe. Surprisingly in the USA, the E-Sport market is still fertile and quite young.  Korea is the goal of any country of E-Sports, have elementary school programs, dealing with coaches and strategies from early age, and multiple small leagues.

What differentiates a game to be an E-Sport from one that is not considered an E-Sport?

Brianna: that all matters on the following or the interest people around the world have over the game and how successful it became to move into pop culture you might say. Certainly, it is not a secret that Fornite, is without question one the most popular games in the world, along with LOL, Dota 2, Overwatch, and others. These games are loved and followed by millions of players worldwide, people want to look like their characters they love, wear t-shirts with these characters, posters, go to events linked to these games, and that “critical mass” is a big factor to identify the next big game or E-Sport tournament.

How you think E-sports could help in the Middle East to expand community and interest for technology?

Brianna: There is no secret that video games are and always been a technological wonder, and an expression of Art and creativity that needs multiple abilities, such as character design, colors, 3D design, animation, and more. Besides the Art factor, disciplines such as history, philosophy, religion, computer science, artificial intelligence and more are key to create a realistic story, a great experience, and vivid characters. A clear example is SMITE by Epic Games, where the player can use the powers and abilities of an ancient God from Norway, China, India, and more, and fight its way out of trouble.

What do you think about violence and games in youth? Do you think that video games will make young people not sensitive to violence and encourage more massive shootings like in America?

Brianna: very good question, and certainly something very personal and a very delicate matter. First, E-Sports in general are a team sport, it is a setting that requires “people’s skills” or have a social group around them to interact with people, and most importantly talk to each other in order to compete and win for a common objective. Second, I am not a psychologist, but it is easy to identify the profile of mass shooters is a lonely person, that avoids human contact and interaction with friends. Third, mass shootings have a common denominator, guns, the real ones, and controlling the access of guns is not something that is as important in America in comparison with the rest of the world from a cultural point of view, Fourth, the profile of a E-Sport person or gamer needs interaction with people, and they love the game, and certainly there are extremely smart people that are gamers such as lawyers, police officers, doctors, engineers and more.

Unfortunately, the easy access to guns has been the common denominator, and until that is controlled mass shootings won’t stop, and sadly more people will be affected from people that should never have access to a gun in the first place, I mean a real gun. In a recent study by the University of Oxford, UK showed that video games do not translate into real-life aggressive behavior in young adults, and everything comes down to common sense.

Tell us more about your online tournament?

Brianna:  Sure, we are running a tournament called the E-Sport Intercontinental Cup. These tournaments will be running on monthly basis for a Grand Final in December for Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Dota 2 initially, and for PC only. We want to create an online community with teams from all over the world, with great money prizes and cash prices, and be a preparation ground for teams to move to the next level such as leagues run by ESL, such as Overwatch League (OWL).  We have over 60 000 USD worth of cash and prizes, and hopefully our league becomes more important over time.

Is it possible that one person can dedicate their efforts to play competitive gaming full time and make a living?

Brianna:  professional gaming is like any other sports has its risk, not every kid will play in a Major League Baseball, NBA, or in a FIFA World Cup, or play for the Real Madrid; dedication, sacrifice, and training is required. E-Sports is the same. However, any kid or person can enjoy Baseball, Soccer or Basketball in the park with your family and your friends, in E-Sport is the same concept. We see teams of father and sons, mother and grandmas, you name it. Also different games have different player profiles, for example CSGO are towards more military driven individuals that need hard competition and actions, and others like Rocket League is a fun combination of sports and technology.

Do you compare your situation in New York with what happened with #AmazonH2 headquarters?  

Brianna: due to current litigation in the USA, we cannot comment much about it. The only thing we can say that the situation related to Amazon Headquarters is not even close to what we experienced. We only seeing this behavior of city officials in other cities in Eastern Europe, where these practices are common, but we never expected to see this in America. Our legal team is currently managing it. We are looking at other options in New York, and hopefully soon to open a location there.

Finally do you have a Dubai Location in mind?  

Brianna: we are looking into this right now, and we hope to find great partners that we can work with them, and a convenient location to support the demanding young population of Dubai and Gulf States. I particularly like Dubai Mall might be a perfect spot for us, and certainly we will be very excited to have teams from the Middle East in our online tournaments. We are quite aware of the Time Zone issues, and we will be doing our best to consider Time Zones for all teams to accommodate schedules to avoid unfair advantages, that’s why most tournaments are run on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays.

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