How has Esports changed in the last 20 years according to the ESL Founders


Big congratulations goes out to ESL for their 20th anniversary and a big thanks for inviting us out to their press conference. 4 of the Founders of ESL were on deck and gave us their opinions on how the Esports world has changed in the last 20 years.

When looking back when we started, we had a vision and we started to develop products, but there was no market. I think that was the major struggle. I always think back, if we would have started 2010 this would have been much easier, because viewership kind of became a commodity with Twitch and YouTube Live and media became a commodity with social media. All of those trigger points, which were important to build a real business out of, became a thing.

Up until 2010 we had to do a lot of things, agency work, to make the money to do our products, to build what we believed in, to follow the passion that Jens was talking about – because we couldn’t make money with it in a normal market process. We could do some, but it was not sustainable enough, so we had to cut a lot of corners to get there and in 2010 that changed and it became a more normal business. That was probably the most, easy phase is the wrong phrase, but the fastest growth time, between 2010 and 2016, now it’s really about scale and globalizing it. More people want to get in, then want to get out, so so today it’s probably the easiest time historically, but competition is obviously much harder.

A lot of things that are a given now, we were so much ahead of, for example video streaming. When we started to stream our events there was no Twitch or YouTube to choose from, we had 50 slots or so for our video stream. Each paying user had their own slot to fill in to watch the event and we started with 50 users, then we went on to 100 and 200 slots.

Same for even the name esports, when we started in 2000 the name wasn’t set that it’s called esports, back then it was more like cyber sports or something like that. That just shows us how much was not given, or we created the ground we walk on afterwards. So what changed a lot? I think it’s mostly that stuff is more taken and not being created from ground up as they were back then.

For me it was always hard to define what rattled us, what was the event, what was the decision, because we were so caught up in the process. As Jan-Phillip and Ralf was stressing already, there was no infrastructure, there was no nothing, there was no esports. We created esports, especially in Europe, every day we made decisions on how we drive this thing that we have and this idea that we have. I remember that we had so many meetings, the five of us with Björn who’s not here today included, discussing what’s the next step – what do we do now? events? do we go to big conventions? what partners do we want to have? what product do we want to have? what games do we want to play? It’s like every day was filled…



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