Esports is short for "electronic sports." It refers to events that turn video games into competitive sports where spectators watch gamers compete. The genre has enjoyed a recent boom in Japan, although esports has already enjoyed great popularity in the West and elsewhere in Asia.
This installment of FEATUReS brings you footage from RAGE, Japan's biggest esports competition attended by over 10,000 people. See the excitement at the venue in this one-minute video.
The global esports market will double from 2017 to $1.5 billion in 2020
The global market for esports is growing year by year, and is forecast to more than double from $696 million in 2017 to $1.5 billion in 2020.
The number of competitors, meanwhile, looks set to increase from 100 million now to 500 million players in 2020. esports is even under consideration for inclusion as an Olympic event.
(Source: "Global Esports Market Report," Newzoo, Feb. 2017)
Esports in Japan: one in two men age 10-19 see it as a "sport"
Japan is another place where esports' recognition is growing fast, as exemplified by the fact that it was approved as an official event at the Asian Games. The spreading awareness is concentrated among teenagers and young adults up to the age of 29. In a September 2017 survey, one in two Japanese men age 10 to 19 responded that esports is something they "see as a sport."
Over 10,000 attendants! RAGE, Japan's biggest esports event
RAGE, Japan's biggest esports event in terms of audience and viewer numbers, is organized by CyberZ and Avex Entertainment Inc. It is a captivating production designed to create a massive sports and entertainment product out of Japan.
RAGE has experienced tremendous growth in only a year-and-a-half since the first competition in 2016. Last September at Tokyo Big Sight, RAGE Vol. 5 energized over 10,000 attendees.
The first international event was RAGE Shadowverse** on December 24, 2017. Players from across the globe gathered to engage in an intense gaming battle.
Footage was streamed in Japan and beyond on a total 19 channels, including foreign media. The production cemented RAGE's place as Japan's largest esports event.
An announcement at the end of the event declared that a grand prize of $1 million (roughly 110 million yen) will be awarded at the next competition. Fans and players are excited to see who will win this unusually huge sum for a Japanese esports tournament.
**Digital card game Shadowverse was used for the name of the tournament, which served as its international championship.
Turning esports into entertainment - Shingo Otomo, RAGE Producer
"We got into the esports business in 2015 when we were looking for a main attraction on our OPENREC.tv, video streaming platform. At the time there was popular support for global esports competitions and big tournaments to decide the best in Japan, and we wanted to stream on OPENREC.tv because there were so many viewers, but we struggled to get the streaming rights to a big event.
Considering the growth in the global esports market, we saw potential in Japan, so we decided to create the greatest esports brand in the country all on our own. That's how we ended up holding RAGE.
"Esports tournaments are now popular viewing on OPENREC.tv, having grown to more than 2 million views through a tournament. I think we've started building a culture of watching esports in Japan. In the future, we want to make esports into a sports and entertainment event that lots of people enjoy, on the scale of K-1 kickboxing and J.League soccer.
"We also want gamers to discover new careers through RAGE, and make RAGE into the most well-known esports platform among educational institutions and related businesses. I hope more people will come to RAGE events and feel the excitement."