Summary of the ESI 2021: A look into the future

“Never waste a good crisis,” is Winston Churchill’s infamous saying, a lesson esports practitioners have learned quickly over the past two years. More important than dwelling in the past is how the difficult insights from the pandemic will be used in 2022 to support the growth of the esports industry.

To provide a comprehensive view of 2021, Esports Insider gathered the perspectives of a broad selection of industry leaders to summarize the topics, insights, and opportunities of the past year.

While Part 1 of the year-end summary looked back at 2021, Part 2 looks to the year 2022. In this edition, the respondents take a reflective look at the most important findings from the “pandemic years”, how they apply their lessons in the year 2022, goals and ambitions for the coming year (s) ( e) and what we could do better as an industry.

Pictured: CS: GO-Event ESL One Cologne in 2019. Photo credit: ESL / Helena Kristiansson

The pandemic years: takeaways for 2022

Tony Trubridge, Global Esports Director at SteelSeries, found a silver lining amid the search for negative news: “If we can draw something positive from the global pandemic, I feel that it has provided a platform for many dedicated players and professionals to be recognized as athletes, performers and entertainers will. 2022 will continue to show us that we as humans can be both entertained and entertained in a variety of ways, and our industry offers some amazing interactive and fun options. “

It’s not surprising because Mary Antieul, VP of Strategy, Belong Gaming Arenas, the pandemic has reinforced their determination to return to live events and in-person games and esports. “After more than a year of being stuck at home, it clearly shows the importance of creating personal communities for players to spend their time in, to immerse themselves in the gaming experience and to keep inviting them to play. “

“The importance of a balanced strategy for community engagement” was the conclusion of Anthony Graham, Director of Esports and Operations, Tundra Esports. “Anything can happen in a competitive environment – events canceled at the last minute, offline events moving online, difficult access to boot camps at certain times, which can affect performance. So it is key to have an army of content creators who bring out great things for our fans and who are supported by our partners, no matter what happens out there. “

Matt Marcou, Senior Director & Commissioner, Madden Competitive Gaming, Electronic Arts (EA) was reminded that “social connection and grassroots fun encourage participation and audience. Watch parties and social features in gaming applications have been the focus of many publishers and event organizers in recent years.

Two words that I would use to describe the return to face-to-face events in 2021: family reunions. Esports was forged by gamers looking for authentic social connections and I hope we can return to those roots in 2022 and attract a new generation of lifelong fans. “

Photo credit: ESL

Goals and ambitions in 2022

Staying true to the competitive spirit that defines esports, many organizations reported a renewed hunger for competitive success in 2022. EXCEL CEO Wouter Sleijffers‘Ambitions, for example, are easy to achieve: LEC World’s knockout stage, Valorant VCT Champions qualification, FIFA Global Series winners, Fortnite World Cup – “and who knows, maybe trophies in other titles too,” added Sleijiffers. The story for Anthony Graham, Director of Esports and Operations, Tundra Esports. “We want to qualify and win all of the Dota 2 majors, including The International.”

The greatest takeaway for Chris Gonsalves from Community Gaming from 2021 it was called “play to earn”. “I would like Community Gaming to grow both as an earnings platform and as a tournament organizer,” said Gonsalves. “As we grow as a company, there are more and more opportunities to teach our community the benefits of ‘playing to make money’. Expect us to introduce these activities in 2022. “

In 2022, ESPORTSU managing director Angela Bernhard Thomas wants to “develop initiatives that really give back to college esports programs to help them last and grow. It will take the form of compiling the best college leagues and conferences, content, data, NIL, revenue sharing and a series of events that will include student recruitment and career development. “

Areas for improvement in 2022

Kyle Bautista, COO of Complexity Gaming accepts the award this year with a passionate hate speech about the lack of player support in esports and how Complexity wants to change that. “With holistic player support, 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 undoubtedly one of the most valuable aspects of the esports industry. However, the inability to filter content on these platforms comes with expected drawbacks, including exposure to toxicity, harassment, and threats, all of which can deteriorate the mental health of gamers and streamers over time.

“At Complexity, we provide access to amenities like a full-time sports psychologist and mental performance specialist, and we encourage a safe space to discuss mental health among our players, streamers, and the executive team. 2022 is emerging as a transformative year for the physical and mental health of gamers as the industry matures and more resources are dedicated to player support across the board. “

eDivisie Championship
Image Credit: eDivisie

In a similar way Wouter Sleijffers from EXCEL and Swipe right founder and director Kirsty Endfield emphasized innate issues around diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities. Endfield said, “This is not due to any company or industry, but standing in front of so many young people gives us the opportunity to change how women are perceived much earlier. Catch them while they are young before they become hot CEOs. ”

Several responses were aimed at eSports ecosystems. Tony Trubridge, Global Esports Director at SteelSeries, aptly emphasized the lack of clear paths to becoming a professional in eSports: “The college esports and path-to-pro leagues offer growth opportunities as they could use a little more attention from major publishers and brands to enable the popular sports community and esports events.” Anthony Graham. from Tundra Esports would like to prioritize a more balanced distribution of the prize pool to support tournaments and tier 2-3 teams.

Finally that is reflected Growth of the cryptocurrency in eSports, Christ Gonsalves from Community Gaming wanted crypto education. “Education around the crypto space remains a major pain point for the industry. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion surrounding the blockchain and its many uses – cryptocurrencies, NFTs, etc. While there will always be waves of opportunists, scams, and lackluster UX when a new technology hits the market, there is tremendous promise about this blockchain -Technology lasts. “

No year is like another in eSports, a product of the dizzying speed of change in our industry. However, 2022 promises to be different as a host of interesting industry trends converge with a return to LAN. We’ll keep an eye on 2022 again.

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