Covid-19 offers e-sports much needed lifeline

Monday May 18 2020

In a literal sense, e-sports is having its time in the sun, with online viewership at an all-time high. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


For some, it is the perfect sport. Almost every interaction takes place online; entire tournaments featuring local and international players, spectators and, of course, instant gratification.

It ticks every box in the guidelines by the World Health Organization on stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Yet the disease has revealed structural difficulties in the sport.

It may not seem that way when one looks at the statistics, as they indicate a trend that favours the viewership of e-sports to fill the void created by the cancellation of traditional events.

In a literal sense, e-sports is having its time in the sun, with online viewership at an all-time high.


As of this month, global streaming service Twitch reported a 49 per cent increase in average viewership, with a corresponding increase in monthly streamers by 37 per cent.

Last year saw 3.64 million monthly streamers by its end, compared to five million in the first five months of 2020.

Like any other sport, the human component plays a big part in the success and sustainability of the industry.

This stems from the hosting of large-scale in-person tournaments to the gaming consoles used to play matches online.

The Washington Post reported in March that the production and release of next-generation gaming consoles could be delayed due to a stall in the southeast Asia and China supply chains as a result of the coronavirus.

While some workers have returned to their factories, production delays are projected to stretch past the holiday season as firms make up for lost time.

Live tournaments and LAN parties have also had to be cancelled, with organisers citing concerns surrounding the spread of the coronavirus.

Bandai Namco Entertainment, responsible for events like the Tekken World Tour 2020, cancelled the qualifying-round events that were to take place in April “in response to international travel restrictions and the possible contagion factor for coronavirus at large public gatherings”, a notice on its website said.

Such events offer much needed exposure for players as well as standard connectivity to guarantee participants a chance at a fair game.