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  • I've come to an annual esports tournament in Hong Kong, where gamers from all around

  • the world have gathered to battle in four tournaments.

  • We're not a bunch of bros drinking beer and playing Mario Kart in the basement.

  • Twelve international college and university teams are vying for bragging rights and monetary rewards.

  • When your program is as prestigious as ours, you need to make sure you stay on top.

  • During the festival, I will be meeting players and fans to see how this fast-growing sector

  • is becoming a billion-dollar industry.

  • Electronic sports, or esports, is competitive video gaming at a professional level,

  • and every year, its audience is growing by the tens of millions.

  • 454 million people are expected to watch an esports event this year.

  • And with total esports revenues expected to hit $1.1 billion in 2019, it's no surprise

  • that new multi-million-dollar esports arenas are popping up around the globe, including here in Hong Kong.

  • I've come to Asia's largest esports complex which was launched earlier this year,

  • and it's open for gamers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Let's go take a look.

  • The 25,000 sq ft complex includes training facilities and a competition arena for up 80 players.

  • The Cyber Games Arena, which cost $3.8M to build, is expected to attract 1.2M visitors annually.

  • That's where I meet Andrew Smith.

  • The competitive gamer has come to Hong Kong with his esports team from Maryville University

  • in St Louis, Missouri to compete in the International College Cup.

  • He'll be playing League of Legends.

  • It's a multiplayer battle arena game, made by Riot Games, which was acquired by tech giant Tencent.

  • And just like any professional athlete, you need your equipment.

  • I'm the kind of person who will use one thing until it pretty much doesn't work anymore.

  • The essentials are really your headset, your mouse, your keyboard and your mousepad.

  • Beyond that, you're getting into the extra territory, but those four are the real crucial ones.

  • It's not just gaming publishers capitalizing off the esports boom.

  • Companies like Logitech, Dell and even Ikea are rushing to get a piece of the market.

  • Andrew gives me a crash course in League of Legends.

  • Yeah, so you're not doing very hot right now.

  • They're actually killing you, and you're about to die.

  • You can see your health bar is getting low.

  • I quickly realize this game is much more complex than the Mario racing games I've been used to.

  • This game has a very, very steep learning curve.

  • That's why it takes thousands of hours.

  • Having just arrived in Asia after a 16-hour journey, Andrew is jetlagged,

  • yet eager to compete at the upcoming tournament.

  • It's a crazy thing to go overseas across the world to play video games.

  • When I say I'm going to play League of Legends, they are like, "What are you doing?"

  • Then I say I'm going to Hong Kong, and they say, “You can go to Hong Kong by playing computer games?”

  • I played soccer, but what I really enjoyed doing when I was a kid was playing video games.

  • But it's not just the professionals logging hours on their favorite games.

  • The fans are too.

  • I love to play this game.

  • About three to four hours everyday.

  • Everyday!?

  • Yeah.

  • Three hours?

  • Four hours.

  • Okay, and do your parents get mad?

  • Yes.

  • They don't like me playing games.

  • As a younger kid, I definitely had my troubles in school.

  • I spent a lot of times playing video games when I shouldn't have.

  • But for Andrew, playing video games for 10-12 hours a day paid offliterally.

  • Andrew received a full scholarship to attend Maryville University, where he joined the school's esports team.

  • It's officially under the university's athletics department.

  • Being a head coach is one of those jobs you never really clock out of.

  • Tanner Deegan is the full-time head coach for the esports team at Maryville.

  • Even when I go home, it's something you're always thinking about.

  • It's the price you pay when you have that responsibility, you're never really turning it off.

  • And with game day quickly approaching, the pressure is on.

  • I've come backstage of this weekend's main competition and as you can see,

  • this is a full blown event.

  • You have greenrooms for the MC, for the commentators,

  • and then you have multiple rooms for the teams, where they strategize, give pep talks.

  • Let's go check in and see what they're up to.

  • There is a lot of nervous energy, you can really feel the tension in that room.

  • There is now a crowd that is starting to form.

  • This team flew from St. Louis to Hong Kong, and it really comes down to this moment.

  • It's something you have to sacrifice to do, right? If you want to be the best in anything.

  • The competition here is truly global.

  • Maryville is in Hong Kong representing North America.

  • Their first game is against a team from the University of Porto, representing the EU.

  • You just really need to get into the zone.

  • It's a very mental game.

  • When something happens, you can feel it.

  • You can feel it in the ground.

  • Forty-five tense minutes later, Andrew and his team beat the team from Portugal.

  • Congratulations. You guys did it.

  • How does it feel?

  • It feels good.

  • We barely made it out of groups, so we're on to the next stage.

  • That's the first thing I do after a game, I just go and drink a ton of water.

  • The atmosphere is electric.

  • Tens of thousands of spectators filled the Hong Kong Convention Center over the weekend.

  • And researchers say this is only the beginning.

  • About 454 million people are expected to watch esports this year.

  • That's projected to grow by almost another 200 million in just three years.

  • And 57 percent of esports biggest enthusiasts are located right here in the Asia-Pacific region.

  • It all roots down to competition.

  • It's not the game result all the time that matters.

  • It's usually what surrounds it, the passion, the energy.

  • The demand for esports is growing so quickly, industry insiders are worried about a talent shortage.

  • Unlike traditional sports, esports doesn't have a formal pipeline for turning amateurs into professionals.

  • That bottleneck could even slow down the field's explosive growth.

  • But some are seizing the opportunity.

  • The Chinese Ministry of Education added esports and gaming into its postgraduate and vocational curriculum.

  • This means you can now take esports as a major at some Chinese schools.

  • And indeed that's how Andrew and his team met their match.

  • The Maryville team made it to the final round of the tournament, but ended up coming in

  • second place to the winning team from China.

  • It was a great experience, we got to come out to Hong Kong, we got to play against other schools.

  • It was cool to see that we're second in the world.

  • It was my last game as well.

  • Surprisingly, I don't really feel that yet.

  • When I go back home and start switching up my life and my career, that's definitely when

  • I'll start to think about it. I did this for seven or eight years, I had my run.

  • Andrew is now becoming an assistant director and coach where he wants to further the popularity

  • of esports around the world, especially in colleges.

  • Think of him as an esports evangelist.

  • I'm one of the very first people to receive a full-ride scholarship,

  • fully covered for four years and graduate.

  • That will be cool to say in 20 or 30 years, that I was one of the first people to shape this landscape.

  • I think as technology evolves and more people have access to internet and computers, we're

  • going to see esports grow to something that the world has never seen.

I've come to an annual esports tournament in Hong Kong, where gamers from all around

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Esports is growing into a $1 billion industry | CNBC Sports

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    Summer posted on 2020/04/28
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