ESI 2021 report: looking to the future


“Never let a good crisis go to waste,” says Winston Churchill’s famous saying. This is a lesson quickly gleaned by esports practitioners over the past two years.

More important than dwelling on the past is how the difficult learnings of the pandemic are being harnessed in 2022 to help grow the esports industry.

In order to provide a comprehensive overview of 2021, Esports Insider gathered insights from a wide selection of industry leaders to recap the themes, lessons and opportunities presented this year.

While the first part of the year-end review looked at 2021, part 2 looked at 2022. In this episode, respondents examine the main lessons to be learned from the “years of pandemic”, how they are applying the lessons of 2022, goals and ambitions for the coming year (s), and what the industry could do better.

Pictured: CS: GO ESL One Cologne event in 2019. Image Credit: ESL / Helena Kristiansson

The pandemic years: what to remember for 2022

Tony Trubridge, Global Director of Esports at SteelSeries, found a silver lining amid the negative news sleuths: “If we can take a positive picture of the global pandemic, I think it has provided a platform for many dedicated players and professionals to be recognized in as athletes, artists and artists. 2022 will continue to show us that as humans we can both entertain and be entertained in a multitude of ways and that our industry offers incredible interactive and entertaining options. “

Unsurprisingly, for Mary Antieul, Vice President of Strategy, Belong Gaming Arenas, the pandemic has strengthened her resolve to return to live events and in-person gaming and esports. “After more than a year stuck at home, the importance of creating in-person communities for gamers to spend their time deepening the gaming experience and continuing to invite them to play has been boldly emphasized. “

“The importance of a balanced community engagement strategy” concluded Anthony Graham, Director of Sports and Operations, Tundra Esports. “Anything can happen in the competition circuit: last minute canceled events, offline events going online, difficult access to bootcamps at certain times which can affect performance. So having an army of content creators who come up with amazing stuff for our fans, backed by our partners no matter what is going on there, is key.

Matt Marcou, Senior Director and Curator, Madden Competitive Gaming, Electronic Arts (EA) it was recalled that “social relationships and fun stimulate grassroots participation and viewership. Watching parties and social features in gaming apps have been the focus of attention for many publishers and event planners in recent years.

Two words I would use to describe the return of in-person events in 2021: family reunion. Esports was forged by gamers looking for authentic social connections, and hopefully 2022 sees us return to those roots and attract a new generation of longtime fans.

Image credit: ESL

Objectives and ambitions in 2022

True to the competitive spirit that helps define esports, many organizations have reported a renewed thirst for competitive success in 2022. Wouter Sleijffers, CEO of EXCELAmbitions, for example, are nothing less than reaching: the round of 16 of LEC Worlds, qualifying champions Valorant VCT, winners of the FIFA Global Series, the Fortnite World Cup – “and who knows maybe trophies in other titles too, ”Sleijiffers added.

High targets have also been the story of Anthony Graham, Director of Sports and Operations, Tundra Esports. “We want to qualify for and win all of the major Dota 2 tournaments, including The International.”

The biggest takeaway for Chris Gonsalves from Community Gaming from 2021 was ‘play to win’. “I would love to see Community Gaming grow as a winning platform as well as a tournament organizer,” said Gonsalves. “As we grow as a business, there are more opportunities to pass the benefits of ‘play to win’ on to our community. Expect to see us roll out these activities in 2022. ”

In 2022, ESPORTSU Executive Vice President Angela Bernhard Thomas wants to “develop initiatives that genuinely give back to college esports programs to help them maintain and grow.” This will come in the form of the aggregation of top leagues and college conferences, content, data, NIL, revenue shares and a series of events that showcase recruiting and career development for students. . “

Areas for improvement in 2022

Kyle Bautista, COO of Complexity Gaming wins the award this year with a passionate rant about the lack of player attention in esports and how Complexity wants to change that. “When it comes to holistic player care, mental well-being is just as important as physical health. The very fluid and direct connection between players, teams and fans on social media is without a doubt one of the most valuable aspects of the esports industry. However, the inability to filter content on these platforms comes with expected drops including exposure to toxicity, harassment, and threats, all of which can deteriorate the mental health of players and streamers as the game progresses. time.

“At Complexity, we provide access to amenities, such as a full-time sports psychologist and mental performance specialist, and foster a safe space to discuss mental health between our players, streamers and the management team. 2022 is shaping up to be a year of transformation for the physical and mental health of gamers, as the industry matures and more resources are allocated to supporting gamers at all levels. “

EDivisie Championship
Image credit: eDivisie

On a similar note, Wouter Sleijffers from EXCEL and Swipe Right Founder and Director Kirsty Endfield highlighted innate issues around diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity. Endfield said: “It’s not a business or even a single industry to fix, but being in front of so many young people gives us the opportunity to start changing the way women are viewed at a much earlier stage. Catch them while they’re young before they grow into top CEOs. ”

Several responses targeted esports ecosystems. Tony Trubridge, Global Director of Esports at SteelSeries, rightly underlined the lack of distinct paths to become pro in esport: “A growth opportunity is in collegiate esports and Path-to-Pro leagues as they could use a little more attention from big publishers and big brands to help facilitate grassroots community and esports events. ” During this time, Anthony Graham of Tundra Esports wants to prioritize a more balanced distribution of the prize pool to support level 2-3 tournaments and teams.

Finally, reflecting the growth of cryptocurrency in esports, Christ Gonsalves from Community Gaming wanted a crypto education. “Education around the crypto space remains a major issue for the industry. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion surrounding the blockchain and its many uses – cryptocurrencies, NFT, etc. While there are always waves of opportunists, scams, and lackluster user experience when a new technology is born, there is a tremendous amount of promise that blockchain technology holds.

No two years are ever the same in esports, a product of our industry’s dizzying rate of change. 2022 promises to be different, however, as a myriad of interesting industry trends come together with a return to the LAN. 2022, once again, will be one to watch.

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