One of the most emblematic tech and entertainment trends of the 2020s is likely to be the astonishing rise of eSports, also known as competitive, professional gaming. The concept of formal gaming tournaments was considered to be little more than a hobby or side hustle just a few short years ago.

However, in recent years the eSports sector has become highly professionalized and is now a $1.8 billion a year sporting industry, according to Insider Intelligence. Some of the top players easily rake in seven-figure salaries, helped along by lucrative sponsorship deals with the likes of PepsiCo, Red Bull, Microsoft, and Comcast.

As is the case with every other professional sport, the rise of eSports has prompted a booming secondary market of businesses that are racing to capitalize on its success. Here are some of the surprising business opportunities unlocked by the success of eSports. 

Influencer marketing 

With major eSports players such as Ninja, N0tail, JerAx, and ana commanding millions of followers from every corner of the globe, it’s only natural that marketing teams would take notice.

In recent years, we’ve seen some of the most prominent eSports figures enter into sponcon deals and brand partnerships with a staggering range of top brands, ranging from ASOS to Mountain Dew to Intel to the US Air Force. It’s not just the large reach of eSports stars that appeals to marketers.

Research has shown that eSports influencers tend to drive much higher rates of engagement than other types of influencers. This has been partly explained by the fact that platforms such as Twitch, which eSports players tend to inhabit more so than other platforms, encourage interaction and co-creation with fans. 

A new type of journalism

There is no shortage of legendary sports journalists who have cemented their positions as chroniclers of society through their incisive and entertaining coverage of, say, soccer or basketball. Now, a new generation of sports journalists is coming up in the eSports world, covering the lives, politics, and achievements of the elite end of the industry, and making big names for themselves in the process.

Prominent eSports journalists such as Richard Lewis and Naomi Kyle, writing for industry tomes such as Game Informer and Pocket Tactics, are redefining the contours of modern journalism. As eSports get increasing amounts of coverage in the mainstream press, expect to hear much more from the hardworking talents that are making that coverage possible. 

Sportsbooks of tomorrow

One of the largest and most lucrative sports-related industries is, of course, betting. Some of the largest sportsbooks on Earth have become billion-dollar brands because of their ability to predict odds for major events and offer real-time bets to customers around the world.

Unsurprisingly, those same brands are moving into eSports in a big way. One major brand in this space is Betway satta, which decided to offer live, in-play odds on a wide range of international eSports fixtures. For example, a Betway member can now log into their account and instantly bet on ongoing games at tournaments such as IEM Dallas, OWL, and DreamHack ESL Pro League. Since online betting itself is already becoming one of the largest entertainment industries on Earth, the inclusion of eSports could push its growth even higher. 

eSports Agency

In any professional sport, you need fixers and dealers who are capable of moving talent around, managing sponsorships, and building winning teams. This is where the eSports agency comes in. The business of so-called “talent management” has skyrocketed within eSports in recent years, as teams and leagues realize that the right player on their roster will translate to millions of views and huge amounts of additional sponsorship and ad revenue.

As such, several elite agencies have sprung up in recent years to cater to the demand for exceptional talent and scout for new, promising eSports stars of the future. UTA ESports, Evolved, and Code Red currently dominate the market, at least in North America and Europe.

These agencies boast some of the most-followed players in the world on their talent rosters, and it is their job to ensure that they get the opportunities and deals that they deserve, while taking a healthy cut in the process. 

These booming secondary markets show just how much money is sloshing around eSports right now. It also shows just how close eSports is to becoming a recognized major league sport on par with the likes of the NFL and NBA.