When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States, every major sports league was forced to temporarily cease competition while they figured out how to continue safely. The eSports industry was also affected by the pandemic; however, they were quickly able to transition due to the ability to compete online.
Extreme Measures For Physical Sports
The physical sports industry was severely impacted by the outbreak of the coronavirus, and leagues have since been scrambling to come up with ways to return safely. Recently, leagues have created methods such as the “NBA Bubble” where all teams play games in the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Disney Orlando. Players and team staff are tested daily and are not allowed to leave the bubble until after they are eliminated from the playoffs or for emergencies. These extreme measures will hopefully maintain the safety of players and team staff during the pandemic.
eSports Response and Boom
As a result of the pandemic, the number of people playing and watching video games shot up. Like physical sports, eSports competitions before the pandemic were conducted live and in stadiums. However, unlike traditional sports, eSports were able to quickly shift competitions to fully online play. Overwatch League, for example, changed their 2020 season to all online play which allowed competition to kick back up after only a short pause. The eSports industry was already gaining in popularity, growing into an impressive $1 billion industry in 2019. So, while traditional sports struggle to make a comeback from the pandemic, the demand for eSports grows even further.
Moving Forward Past The Pandemic
After the pandemic subsides, physical sports will likely bounce back with a huge initial boost of excitement. People will be eager to go out and see their favorite physical sports teams compete. In addition, I believe we’ll see eSports not only maintain the boost it received from the pandemic but also continue to experience tremendous growth in viewership and revenue.