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Perspectives

Investing in eSports: the future

By Citi Private Bank,

November 13, 2018Posted InCiti

The atmosphere inside the O2 Arena was electric. The crowd of many thousands were feverish with its chant and cheers as it watched two of the world’s best athletes compete against each other in the finals, showcasing their first-class sporting talent and skill.

After an intense and nerve-wracking match, the newly crowned winner lifted his glittering trophy as his fans jumped from their seats to celebrate the triumphant win. The world champion had made it. All from the comfort of his own black leather chair.

The crowning glory was the 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup final. Instead of using their legs to score goals, players use their fingers to press buttons on a PlayStation controller to guide pixelated versions of world-renowned football stars around a pixelated pitch on big screens watched by a live audience, as well as several million tuning in online.

This is eSports – professional competitive video gaming - and according to the latest report by Citi GPS, is an area investors should keep an eye on because it could eclipse traditional league sports for viewership and sponsorship.

Although eSports is still in its infancy, there are already clues of the potential opportunities. Tech giants Amazon and Google have already swooped in to claim their stake, with both owning online gaming services. Even Adidas has added Spanish eSports team ASUS ROG Army to its list of sponsorships – alongside Real Madrid and Manchester United. The fact that a world-famous sportswear brand decided to sponsor a team that competes without ever breaking a sweat is indicative of eSport’s growing popularity.

So what are the catalysts that may spur this growth? Citi GPS’s report ‘Disruptive Innovations VI’ believes the take-up of the franchise model is key to eSport’s future success. Franchises generate investments because it gives sponsors and advertisers certainty on participating teams. If eSports build strong franchises they could become as successful as the NFL.

But who will emerge as the winners and losers from the rise of eSports? To find out which sectors are set to reap the rewards and which will be majorly disrupted, read Citi GPS: Disruptive Innovations VI.