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Cricket vs eSports: Putting the numbers into perspective

Wasif Ahmed
TOP CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
319   //    Timeless

Esports is the next big thing.
Esports is the next big thing.

The past few years have been revolutionary for competitive video gaming. Numerous eSports games have evolved to produce fully-fledged leagues. The eSports industry diversified as games from other genres particularly the battle royale one became popular other than MOBAs which have been the defining games for eSports in general.

So how big is eSports in the current scenario? More particularly, how do the numbers such as prize pool and viewership compare to the widely popular sport which is cricket?

Cricket is a very old sport and has its roots to the 19th century with the competitive play happening since then. The present-day model of cricket has evolved to produce international and national councils including regional and national leagues potentially worth billions of dollars. In such aspects, eSports cannot compare to the widely popular sport. In this article, only two things will thus be taken into perspective- prize pools and viewership to generate a sense of how competitive video gaming compares to traditional sports. 


#1 Prize Pool

This may come as a surprise to many but the biggest eSports tournaments have bigger prize pools than the biggest international cricket ones.

The International 8 (TI8), held last November which sees professional players battle it out in almost hour long matches in the widely popular PC MOBA- Dota 2 had a total prize pool of $25,532,177 (according to Dota 2 prizetracker). This is approximately 1.7 billion in rupees.

A still from The International 8.
A still from The International 8.

The recently announced Fortnite World Cup which will be held during July of this year has a prize pool of a staggering $30 million dollars (more details about this can be found here). This is about 2.13 billion in rupees.

The ICC Cricket World Cup, the biggest cricket tournament has a prize pool of $14 million (according to crickex). Comparing this with The International (TI) or the Fortnite World Cup shows that eSports almost have a prize pool which is double than that of cricket. It is worth noting the TIs are conducted every year whereas the ICC cricket world cup is conducted every 4 years.

If you are starting to think that eSports are thus bigger than cricket, I will have to stop you right there. The total revenue that cricket's biggest tournament generates surpasses that of eSports competitions. This comes after including big sponsors, advertisements and television rights. Sure, eSports events have sponsors and advertisements as well but they are not as big as cricket. Also, eSports events are usually streamed online on sites like Twitch and YouTube and not on television except in selected regions.

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If we are to only compare the overall prize pools, on the other hand, eSports have definitely reached the level of traditional sports like cricket. 


#2 Viewership

The League of Legends World Championships is perhaps the most watched eSports game currently. The League of Legends World (LoL) Championship 2018 had 99.6 million unique viewers who tuned in to see the finals between Fnatic and Invictus Gaming ( according to riftherald).

A still from the opening ceremony of League of Legends 2018 Finals.
A still from the opening ceremony of League of Legends 2018 Finals.

The finals of IPL 11 clocked 55.6 million views across India. The ICC T20 World Cup 2016 had 83 million people tune in to watch the finals (according to ICC)

The numbers thus suggest that more people watch eSports as compared to cricket. It is worth noting that over 80% of views for the LoL World Championships were from China alone. If the viewership from China is not considered then the numbers of eSports viewers come nowhere close to that of cricket.

OG after winning The International 8.
OG after winning The International 8.

Finally, we have to speak about the stadium attendance. Last year's IPL Finals held in the Wankhede Stadium had an attendance of about 33,000 people. The 2017 ICC Champions Trophy finals between India and Pakistan had an attendance of 26,000 people.

The International 8 saw an attendance of about 20,000 spectators. About 23,000 people attended the LoL World Finals at the Incheon Stadium in South Korea.

So, were you surprised to see these statistics? Do let us know in the comments below!






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