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The advent of e-Sports: hobby worldwide phenomenon

December 16 category:Culture
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The advent of e-Sports: hobby worldwide phenomenon

PREMIUMS. The last tournament of Dota 2, one of the featured games, was endowed with more than $ 10 million (here the 2013 in Seattle, United States).

D. Ryder / REUTERS

Thousands of spectators, screaming, loud music and stage stars of battery, drowned under the lights of multicolored spots: it's like being at a rock concert. Except here, backlit by the screen of their computer, the stars are not musicians, but the players, as concentrated as Rafael Nadal at time of service, twirling their fingers at breakneck speed on keyboards and joysticks.

In the room, clapping and cheering dot reflex actions and tactical moves, such as Messi dribbles raise stadiums. As popular as they describe champions live performance, commentators heat the public. All are professionals, paid by sponsors, game publishers, broadcasters and Internet "cash prizes", these bonuses to the winners of up to several million. The "e-sport" is a profession, born at the beginning of the century, but entered a new dimension there three years.

At the Grand Rex, the Casino de Paris, the Trianon or a "Barcraft", a specialized institution, the first dive in the world of electronic sports is a visual shock, sound and culturally. The atmosphere is electrifying there; language, exotic "Headshot perfect follow a ninja defuse", "Pantheon to gank mid '!", "All-in terran player, and this is the GG!" The layman would be wrong to stop at these barbarisms. Once the basic vocabulary apprehended, the back of the video game is a great wealth. In every sense of the word.

A dream that began in the 90s

The dream lives first "e-fans" in the 1980s: to compete with others, in public and later on the Internet in strategy games, shooting or sport. It becomes reality as well as ADSL, who signs the irruption into the homes of broadband connections. In the late 1990s, at the same time as games as popular as I Starcraft, Quake and the legendary Counter-Strike, the first official competitions emerge. In France, it is the time of the first tournaments "IRL" (in real life, "in real life"), the "LAN" (for local area network, rallies players on a LAN), which attract Players from all over the country. Armed with their computers, they gather in huge halls and gyms for a few crazy days and nights without sleep.

Live e-sports, some are already thinking, no really believe. Yet, thousands of miles away, South Korea, the release of Starcraft Brood War (1998), is a national event. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Sports was born a formal federation -the KeSPA- and with it the first professional players, who receive salaries and cash prizes of several thousand. The games are broadcast on television. They arouse strong popular craze.

Monthly salaries, cash prize six zeros

Moreover, the e-sports progress is more chaotic. In 2008, the economic crisis is very serious damage. In France, the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) -a world championship made in France, as its name indicates the removal not- stock ... before being bought. "Between 2002 and 2007 there has been an explosion of events, but the crisis has affected everyone, and when Nvidia. [Editor's note: one of the largest manufacturers of graphics cards and processors] ceased to sponsor the ESWC, he almost died. The area existed only through patronage, where the boxes were cut first, "recalls Alexandre" Pomf "Noci, one of the most famous French commentators, co-founder, with his brother Hadrian "Thud" of O'Gaming, a specialized web-TV. Between 2008 and 2010, most industry players raise the foot, along fizzle games StarCraft I and Counter-Strike pioneers.

>> Read also: eSports the boom in France as seen by the success of Pomf and Thud

Since then, the crisis has passed, the money is returned. In strength. "The e-sports has become more professional. Players no longer rely on the premiums, they receive a fixed monthly salary," says Nicolas Di Martino, a pillar of the association Lyon e-Sport and employed at the Casino de Paris, where League of Legends tournament was held in 2012.

Competitions not attract hundreds of enthusiasts, but tens of thousands of spectators in renowned theaters. Live broadcast on the Internet, they are followed by millions of fans. The cash prizes reach huge amounts of money: this year, The International 4 Dota 2 tournament, one of the star game of the moment, was endowed with more than $ 10 million (€ 7.3 million). "It's not so far from the € 26 million paid to the Wimbledon tennis players, right?" fun Nicolas Di Martino. More surprisingly, this premium was funded to the tune of $ 8 million through the crowdfunding online subscription to the fans themselves. Next hearing, the figures are equally impressive: 2013 Final League of Legends, the most played video game in the world, attracted 32 million viewers on the Web. We are far hundreds of millions of viewers of the FIFA World Cup. But for how long?

Understanding League of Legends in 3 minutes, watch the video below:

Player salaries are in tune -even if the figures circulating are sometimes fanciful. So Carlos "Ocelote" Rodriguez Santiago, this Spanish League of Legends player who claimed in 2013 hit 700,000 euros per year. "It seems greatly exaggerated, and I can talk as we ourselves are paying players, moderates Song Remy, head of e-sports section and Web-TV Millenium, the second video game site in France. It confuses the turnover of his company and his own gains. " According to him, "the employee the highest paid player in the world is a South Korean, Jaedong, which will initial 10 000 euros per month. The French 'Stephano', another virtuoso Starcraft II, reaching to 8000 euros per month" auquels we must add a few thousand euros a month for streaming, live broadcast of their performance on hosting sites like YouTube, Dailymotion or Twitch, that pay.

But in the end, "there are few who can claim to regularly receive amounts exceeding 5,000 euros per month," puts Remy song. These amounts are, however, supplemented by potential personal sponsors and especially by the famous cash prizes, which greatly inflate earnings. Jaedong premiums rise, since he started playing, some 525,000 dollars.

A success boosted by Riot locomotives, Twitch and Dailymotion

"This is just the beginning." Alexander and his brother Adrian Noci firmly believe that e-sports will be tomorrow "number 1 entertainment." Both began their room "by commenting on games like the Koreans." They are now at the head of Alt Tab Productions, the parent company of O'Gaming. The company, which has earned one million euros in sales in 2013, organized on July 26 at the Trianon in Paris, the final of the "Wars II Nations," a title of unofficial world of Starcraft II. An event at 165,000 euros, financed entirely by the Internet (and a mysterious benefactor named Frank Underwood).

How to explain this craze? The video game has become the first cultural industry in the world in terms of turnover, before the film, and now appears extravagant performances. Many "very good games" are also released recently said Alexandre Noci: StarCraft II (Blizzard Entertainment), Dota 2, Counter-Strike Global Offensive (Valve Corporation) ... But a good game, it is the Insurance loyal community that scum forums, decrypts mechanics and pushes the editor to improve its product.

Finally, the "engine" Riot Games takes the e-Sport convoy in its dollars flooding years. The publisher of League of Legends organizes and finances the biggest tournaments, it gratifies cash prizes to six zeros. He even created three years ago his own championship, the LCS (League of Legends Championship Series), which 16 salaried professional teams of 5 players to compete in the only competition. "Other publishers would love to grab a piece of the pie, says one in Eclypsia, a major competitor of Millenium Web-TV and O'Gaming. The e-sport has become a goose that lays golden eggs. " The calculation is simple: "League of Legends is free, but the bonuses are paid, says Nicolas Cerrato, consultant at Ubisoft France.

For Riot, it is therefore retain the community to get paid regularly. "And what is more effective for this purpose as tournaments where the best players in the world regale fans and earn thousands of dollars?" The creation LCS was the real trigger, "says Nicolas Di Martino." There are five or six years when the Millennium wanted to organize a competition in Warcraft III, publisher, Blizzard, provided two game boxes and it s' felt happy not to have to pay royalties ... Today Riot pays money to project managers to organize tournaments! "adds Rémy song.

Last reason for the success, the evolution of technology and Internet usage, including the generalization of free streaming, proposed primarily by Dailymotion, France, and Twitch in the United States. "The players have fixed wages, but also a performance obligation in the hollow of the times, they survive by commenting on games, says Rémy Song Before 2010, the cost of bandwidth was too high.. He had more of it . spectators, plus it was expensive Today it is the reverse: Dailymotion Twitch open and free to broadcasters and their pipes, so there is more spectators, more it pays them. "

Read also: Why would buy Twitch YouTube for a billion dollars?

"The mass distribution of video has reached over Internet users, is delighted Alexandre Noci. Good content attracts more fans, which attract advertisers." The advertising spaces are selling better and better, to the delight of many web-TV. "To host O'Gaming on Dailymotion was a financial revolution" admits Hadrian Noci.

A business model that is still looking

Is the phenomenon sustainable? "If Riot decides to pay advertising pages on TF 1 and to stop funding eSports, what shall we do? Asks Remy song, aware of the fragility of the model. And what will the other publishers ? " Nicolas Di Martino says the same thing, which is concerned about the situation Dailymotion near monopoly in France on the streaming market. "Currently, the chain pays more generously, but it is likely that it review its tariffs down," he predicted. Before reassurance: "It would be a setback for many structures, of course, but the e-sports culture is here to stay."

Antoine Nazaret, Director of Dailymotion content, calm the game: "The game is our first thematic channel We have no intention to disengage the contrary, we will strengthen our position in France, but also to the.. abroad, particularly in South Korea. Especially since streaming is a mature sector, driven by growth of the advertising market of 50% per year for four years. " As for publishers, "they would be crazy to sit on what they have helped create," he analyzes.

>> Read more: Pewdiepie, multimillionaire thanks to its YouTube channel on video games

Competitors 2000s are now between 25 and 35 years and a standard of living that allows them to invest in their passion. Behind them, the younger take the mass falls. And the market is starting to interest "big". Coca-Cola sponsors tournaments League of Legends, Red Bull "Battle Grounds" has his name on StarCraft II. "We even saw, Sweden, McDonalds ride the wave (link in English) with a themed burger in honor of the greatest Counter-Strike team Ninjas in Pyjamas" added Eclypsia.

The next step, not the least of which could be the creation of an international and impartial entity, on the model of Fifa. A complex, but matters as to their wishes some stakeholders. Meanwhile, they are trying to attract the interest of public authorities, particularly in France. "Currently, institutional support, it's zero laments Nicolas Di Martino. At the last edition of Lyon e-Sport, which brought together 500 players and nearly 2,500 spectators, we invited the mayor, Gérard Collomb, and he asked if it was normal not to receive any grant for such an event. " The law Axelle Lemaire, Secretary of State for Digital, is not more generous. "We will look into the matter, he replies in L'Express. But it is still too early to tell." Either the industry is accustomed to do without the State ...

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