For a WWU design branding class, I was assigned to create branding for an event that might take place five years in the future. In predicting what might become more popular, I imagined Seattle Sentinels - a Pacific Northwest eSports team within a larger North American league.
WHAT ARE eSPORTS?
eSports are video games played competitively by sponsored professionals and broadcast for spectators. This industry was first popularized in South Korea after mass broadband internet networks were introduced in the country following their 1997 financial crisis. Since the early 2000's eSports have continued to grow and spread throughout the rest of the world, with leagues established in Europe and North America as well as Asia. Twitch.com, a streaming service specifically for video games, was founded in 2011. In 2016 it was estimated that 214 million unique viewers watched eSports. League of Legends is the most popular eSport. In 2016, 14.7 million fans tuned in concurrently to the League of Legends World Championship Series to watch teams from across the globe compete for a $1 million prize. The series saw 43 million viewers overall. Global revenues for eSports reached $493 million in 2016 and are expected to grow to $696 million in 2017. In 2013, the League of Legends World Championship Final made mainstream headlines, with Forbes reporting they sold out the LA Staples Center in one hour.
Modern eSports teams are owned by private companies and not tied to a geographic location more specific than their counties. In North America, most of eSports' professional players live in or near Los Angeles. But what would eSports brands look like if structured in the same way as mainstream sports, with teams for specific cities throughout North America competing against each other throughout a season? Maybe the day is not far off when American eSports teams have their own stadiums.