Esports (also known as electronic sports, e-sports, or eSports) is a form of competition using video games. Most commonly, esports takes the form of organized, multiplayer video game competitions, particularly between professional players, individually or as teams. Although organized online and offline competitions have long been a part of video game culture, these were largely between amateurs until the late 2000s, when participation by professional gamers and spectatorship in these events through live streaming saw a large surge in popularity. By the 2010s, esports was a significant factor in the video game industry, with many game developers actively designing toward a professional esports subculture.
The most common video game genres associated with esports are multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA), first-person shooter (FPS), fighting, digital collectible card games, battle royale games and real-time strategy (RTS). Popular esports titles include MOBA games such as, League of Legends, Dota 2 and Smite, FPS titles such as Counter-Strike and Call of Duty, CrossFire and Rainbow Six Siege which are in the FPS sub-genre of tactical shooters , Overwatch which is in the FPS sub-genre of hero shooter , fighting games such as Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros., Mortal Kombat and Soulcalibur, Beat ‘em up such as Dungeon Fighter Online, digital collectible card games such as Hearthstone, battle royale games such as PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite Battle Royale, and RTS titles StarCraft. Tournaments such as the League of Legends World Championship, Dota 2’s The International, the fighting games-specific Evolution Championship Series (EVO), and the Intel Extreme Masters provide live broadcasts of the competition and prize money to competitors. Many competitions use a series of promotion and relegation play with sponsored teams, such as the League of Legends World Championship, but more recently, competitions structured similar to American professional sports, with salaried players and regular season and play-off series, have emerged, such as the Overwatch League. The legitimacy of esports as a sports competition remains in question; however, esports has been featured alongside traditional sports in multinational events, and the International Olympic Committee has explored incorporating them into future Olympic events.
In 2019 it is estimated that the total audience of esports will grow to 454 million viewers and that revenues will increase to over US$1 billion. The increasing availability of online streaming media platforms, particularly Panda.tv, YouTube, and Twitch have become central to the growth and promotion of esports competitions. Demographically, Major League Gaming has reported viewership that is approximately 85% male and 15% female, with a majority of viewers between the ages of 18 and 34. Despite this, several female personalities within esports are hopeful about the increasing presence of female gamers. South Korea has several established esports organizations, which have licensed pro gamers since the year 2000. Recognition of esports competitions outside of South Korea has come somewhat slower. Along with South Korea, most competitions take place in Europe, North America and China. Despite its large video game market, esports in Japan is relatively underdeveloped, and this has been attributed largely to its broad anti-gambling laws which prohibit paid professional gaming tournaments.