The professionalization of eSports in Latin America

Esports are becoming popular in LatAm and they become a promising market.

In 2017, few brands were interested in sponsoring e-sports in Latin America, unlike what was happening in the United States, Europe, and Asia. This situation has been changing rapidly, and investment in the region begins to come in large for electronic sports.

This trend has benefited from an increase in Internet access in Latin America that has allowed a higher penetration of video games in the countries of the region and has changed consumer habits.

For example, in Mexico, 70% of gamers connect to the network when playing. Two out of three users do so to interact with other players remotely, while 17% do so to download free or paid games, according to a report from The CIU.

The revenues of eSports are increasing

Globally, eSports grow double-digit and quickly. The Global Market Report expects that by 2019, this sector will surpass for the first time value of billion dollars worldwide. According to the forecasts of the Markets & Markets consultancy, by 2023, the eSport industry could be worth $ 2,174 B, which would mean annual growth of 18.6%.

The primary source of income for the esports is the transmission rights, tickets, merchandise, sponsorships, directed announcements, and publication fees. Analysts expect these revenues to increase with the proliferation of stadiums explicitly built for this activity.

Mexico is the market that generates more profits in video games in Latin America, with $ 1,800 million of revenue, followed by Brazil with $ 1,600 million. Argentina, Chile, and Colombia follow these countries.

However, if it is eSports, Brazilians are the most enthusiasts in the region with 20 million fans, of which 12 million are casual, while 9.2 million are enthusiastic, according to Search Game Latam. Brazil is the third country with the most considerable enthusiasts for eSports in the world, preceded by the United States and China.

Mexico, a prominent esports market

The eSports fans in Mexico do not surpass the Brazilian fans, but they are a growing public that has already interested media companies such as TV Azteca, a television station that invested $ 5M to acquire Black Ride Acquisition Corp, a sports production company electronics in the United States.

With this acquisition, TV Azteca plans to create a television channel that transmits electronic sports 24 hours a day, as do channels focused on more traditional games such as ESPN or Fox Sports. This idea was a suggestion from Frank Ng, who will be the next CEO of Allied Sports Entertainment, a name that will adopt Black Ride after the merger with Ourgame International.

In Mexico, there are 70 million gamers, and 10% of them have competed professionally, according to Ismael Silva of the Mexican Federation of eSports. In Mexico, 10.6% of gamers watch video games online, while 4.8% are spectators, according to data from The CIU. These conservative figures promise to increase.

Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, considers Mexico a strategic market not only because of the size of its population and its economy but also because of the tendency of gamers to prefer playing on computers, said Juan José Moreno, director of Public Relations and Communications for Latin America of the company.

The eSports scene in Latin America

Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile are the countries where eSports stand out the most in Latin America and the supporters of these countries participates in several events that bring together celebrities and personalities from this sector.

In Argentina, the Argentina Game Show is the most significant event in this country dedicated to video games. In addition to exclusive launches, exhibitors, cosplay contests, live shows, talks and workshops, the Argentina Game Show is host to several eSports tournaments.

In Chile, the SP Gaming Tournament organizes tournaments divided into three categories of the games League of Legends, Overwatch, PUBG and Hearthstone, with face-to-face finals.

In Mexico, there are several events and tournaments, among which ROG Esports Fest, organized with the sponsorship of Asus, Gears Pro Circuit Mexico, organized by Gears of War, and Esports Mexico, which hosts amateur tournaments for FIFA, Call of Duty and League of Legends

In Brazil, the Brazil Game Show is the most massive event in Latin America in videogames and includes the Brazil Game Cup final, as well as the participation of international esports celebrities.

The challenges of the esports

The International Olympic Committee accepted that esports are a sports activity, but still, do not meet several criteria to be considered in the Olympic Games. Indeed, several of the favorite games of players could never be considered for their content of graphic violence.

Maybe the esports will not be able to join the Olympic Games soon, but there are leagues and professional and semi-professional teams that are sponsored by different companies.

In Latin America, League of Legends has a league made up of 8 professional teams. This league grew out of the merger of the CLS (Latin American South Cup) and the LLN (Northern Latin American League) and is composed mainly of teams from Mexico and Argentina. Chile was chosen as the seat of the league for its ecosystem of sports, its migratory, economic and legal framework, among other factors.

In Mexico, Hugo Martínez, president of the Mexican Videogame League, believes that it is necessary to work in a legal framework so that companies treat their team members “as one more worker.” Here there are two problems: the definition of minimum age to compete in professional tournaments and the control of salaries since many players receive money without being registered in social security.

Health problems are also present, mainly because the World Health Organization declared that addiction to video games is a disease.

Latin America stands out as a growing market for players and technology, but Moreno believes that there is still more investment from companies in the videogames market to boost it further. Despite the obstacles, everything seems to indicate that the region is ready to move on to the next level.