Jack be nimble, Jack be quick; in every crisis there are winners and losers.
And the current Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic is no different.
While traditional betting action focussed on racetracks, casinos and major league sports has taken a major hit; esports is fast emerging as the future of gaming.
And if you’re in any doubt just ask sporting superstar David Beckham, who, along with a knack for scoring spectacular goals, knows how to make a bob or two.
Already a billion dollar industry, esports is expected to double in worth in just the next few years.
Beckham–Manchester United legend, Real Madrid Galactico and ex England captain, and reputedly worth something north of US$400-million–has invested in Guild eSports, a training company that aims to “professionalise” gaming and build gaming teams – along the lines of a football club academy.
With Fortnite’s annual World Cup already worth around US$30-million in prize money and Amazon-owned gaming streaming channel Twitch drawing audiences of over one million people, the direction of travel—and money—is going only one way: Up. Up. And up.
Covid-19 lockdowns around the world have given esports a big boost as consumers looked for alternative forms of entertainment with traditional sports all but shut down, says stockbroker Joe Healey of The Share Centre.
Huya, China’s largest streaming platform, has seen record monthly active users and Twitch has seen average viewership skyrocket by 80 per cent since January this year.
And esports stocks, like esports gaming itself, are thriving amid Coronavirus.
The value of some esports stocks, for example, have grown by an astonishing 60 per cent in the last year; compared to an average growth of six per cent for a basket of other global stocks.
Before the pandemic, accountants PwC estimated esports revenues would grow 83 per cent and reach US$1.68-billion by 2023.
But Healey believes that figure is now too low.
“Innovation has allowed esports companies to create immersive experiences that can sometimes rival reality. Combining graphics and gameplay with competition is a powerful mix and one that provides the adrenaline rush we all know and love in sport,” Healey notes.
Now tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon, who are deeply embedded in digital gaming, see nothing but growth on the esports horizon, he affirms.
Paris Smith, CEO of esports leader Pinnacle, says: “All eyes have been watching esports since live sports went dormant.
“According to our stats there’s been a 50 per cent growth in the number of players and a 40 per cent growth in the volume of bets. It’s been phenomenal.
“People are saying, ‘Hi we need to make money on esports, who do we talk to?’ And we’re getting that literally daily.
“People have more time. We’re all at home trying to figure out how to fill the gaps. You know, it is a positive story.”
Just “Bet It, Like Beckham”.