eSports Doesn't Work In The Olympics Today


(Photo: Getty)

(Photo: Getty)

TNL Take: We are in the midst of the biennial, 2-week long commercial otherwise called the Olympics.

Trying to connect anything to eSports now is completely normal so the slew of “eSports and Olympics” stories have already begun.

In The Next Level 006 back in May, I talked about the challenges of eSports in the Olympics and the limited Brand ROI that M&C Saatchi could provide for their Rio eGames partnership.


I'll expand on it further.


/01 It's A Simple Supply Problem

(Photo: EHOME)

(Photo: EHOME)

There are 200 countries being represented at Rio 2016. We would be lucky if 10% of those countries could support legitimate eSports teams today.

While eSports is a popular global activity engaged by millions, the top Athletes skew heavily towards a few countries (Not in rank order): 

China, South Korea, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, UK, United States, Brazil and throw in a few others and we have 10 total countries.

Golf is being played for the first time since 1904 in this year's Olympics and you have 40+ countries participating. Of course participation doesn't automatically equal Olympic level quality as we've seen with a few divers.

The issue is being addressed with the the announcement of a $3.7M Tournament by the new World Electronic Sports Games. The Shanghai based competition features 24 national teams for Counter-Strike, Hearthstone, DOTA and SC2.

However, here's the catch: Any team looking to participate has to feature a roster from one nation.

The tournament is funded primarily by Alisports, the sporting initiative of Alibaba, which also recently plunged the massive $150M investment into the International eSports Federation (IeSF).

OK China, I get it --I’ll have an update on my analysis of Tencent and eSports shortly.

In the official release, Executive Stepan Shulga stated that the reason for implementing the rule is that it "could help eSports to be recognized as official sports and potentially included in the Olympic Games."


/02 Game and Publisher Support

The term eSports is very easy as it's short  but provides a double-edged sword comparison to traditional Sports where it's not even in the same ballpark.

Just saying eSports itself takes away from the individual games that make up the current ecosystem.

While it's safe to say that Track and Field will more than likely be in the 2020 Olympics, which eSports game or games gets picked?

There isn't a "Publisher" for Olympics Swimming but if you want League of Legends in Tokyo 2020 you better have Riot on board.


/03 Popularity

(Photo: Activision-Blizzard)

(Photo: Activision-Blizzard)

If the IOC decided 4 years ago to add an eSports event, you could make a safe guess that League of Legends may have been the obvious choice.

But what about Overwatch?

Overwatch would only have been mentioned if it was this Canadian short movie.

It's going to be difficult to predict the popularity of what eSports titles will be popular 4 years out and we still don't have a breakout Mobile eSports game yet - c'mon Clash Royale.


/04 Brand ROI

(Photo: eGames)

(Photo: eGames)

As I also said in The Next Level 006, the Brand ROI that M&C Saatchi could bring would also be difficult. The Olympics have already started and we still don't have an update on eGames.

[Update: Oh good old timing. This morning, a Press Release announced that the eGames pop-up event would feature the top Brazilian Smite players and a smattering of other nationalities and games represented.

Thank God there's no Sponsor involved.]



It's not like these are impossible challenges to overcome and we will make progress over time.

We're just not ready for eSports in the Olympics in 2016.

There was one very intriguing metric from Rio 2016 so far. Over the weekend, there was more Bandwidth traffic generated via Twitch than for Olympic content.

(Photo: Sandvine)

(Photo: Sandvine)