Kevin Hitt’s Top Five Stories of 2020 – The Esports Observer

Heading into the new year, esports was on the precipice of becoming a billion-dollar industry as endemic and non-endemic sponsors and companies entered the space. New esports stadiums were being built, such as the Fusion arena in Philadelphia, and leagues with geographically-based teams were excited to play home stands and extend revenue streams.

Enter COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic devastated the esports scene as live events were canceled, construction of new brick and mortar event spaces were halted, and revenue streams esports organizations were counting on to help get them back in the black vanished. Newzoo even revised its predictive model numbers to show that the industry would have to wait to hit that billion-dollar mark.

The scene looked as if it were on the verge of collapse, but in the end, esports found a resilience during these most difficult times that caught the attention of just about everyone in the entertainment industry including main-stream sports production companies such as ESPN and FOX Sports. While difficult, live events transitioned from stadiums to computer screens and fans from all over the world showed that esports could weather the storm and, in some cases,  even thrive. 

The storylines in the beginning of 2020 were fraught with frustration and despair, but as the year continued esports became a place where everyone could go to forget about the effects of this historic pandemic and be entertained, at least for a while.

With that in mind, I offer for your consideration what I consider to be the top five storylines of 2020.

No. 5: Rocket League Championship Series Teams Send Letter of Grievances to Psyonix

Credit: Psyonix

When the Esports Observer learned that there were a lot of unhappy teams in the Rocket League Championship Series and that those teams would be sending a letter of grievances to Psyonix, we knew this was important.

Rocket League is an esport that has seen time on both NBC Universal and ESPN because of its appeal to a younger audience and the lack of gun violence. It’s a game of soccer played with jet-powered cars and it’s popular.

However, as a league, somebody dropped the ball. There was an obvious disconnect between the league office and the teams that boiled down seemingly to a lack of communication. But there was also one item in the list of grievances sent to Psyonix that would resonate with team owners everywhere–it was the players that actually owned the spot in the league, not the teams.

The teams were paying player salaries, providing training facilities (in some instances), equipment, and other expenses. And what did the team get? Ten percent of the team’s winnings.

Organizations were getting throttled in this system, seeing payments from the league going directly to the players. What were team owners supposed to get in return for this investment?…

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