Orlando has a chance to grow the amount of esports business it does.
Already, the area has one of the largest college facilities for gaming competitions, with the Full Sail University Orlando Health Fortress hosting both professional and amateur events.
In addition, sports teams like the NBA’s Orlando Magic and MLS’s Orlando City SC have competitive gaming teams. Sari Kitelyn, director of esports and project development for Full Sail University, said during Orlando Business Journal‘s March 9 Business of Sports event that the next big step is creating a path from the youth level to higher competitive play. “The big breakdown when it comes to esports is there is no real path through the youth organization to a collegiate experience.”
Why this matters: Esports have grown in popularity in recent years, becoming a multi-billion dollar industry and creating jobs from events and more.
Kitelyn cited the differences between a casual player going into a Call of Duty game versus a professional player, who will have to do things like watch film of the other team to strategize, receive coaching and more often work as a member of team and communicate.
Full Sail University plans to bring a youth esports program in partnership with XP League for kids ages 8-17 who want to compete in gaming. The college will provide several game titles where kids can participate and will include physical and mental health exercises, in addition to communal gaming.
“You’re starting to see these programs pop up in middle schools and high schools,” Kitelyn said. For example, Seminole and Orange counties are among those working on bringing esports into schools.
Esu Ma’at, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer with the Orlando Magic, said the pay for esports events has grown to rival traditional professional sports. For example, at the 2019 Fortnight World Cup hosted at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, the 16-year-old winner of the singles tournament got $3 million from the event’s solos competition, Ma’at said.
In comparison, the men’s singles tournament champion at the U.S. Open tennis championship at the same complex, Rafael Nadal had a similar payout. “Two weeks, seven best-of-five set matches, he won $3.5 million.”
Meanwhile, the global audience for esports also is expected to grow.
Newzoo in a 2022 report projected that the esports audience in the world will grow from 532 million people in 2022 to 640 million in 2025. The total number of enthusiasts — which the company said is those who watch events more than once a month — is expected to grow from 261 million now to 318 million in 2025.
Wire services are provided under license from Newswires (EIN).