Esports is predicted to grow into a $1.1 billion industry in 2019. So we felt with New Year right around the corner, this would be a good time to go over some of the major esports predictions for 2019.
What Are Our Six Esports Predictions For 2019?
1. The first major apparel brand will truly move into esports
This is a fairly easy one as Nike and Adidas have both began inroads into the esports industry. False reports came out that Nike had signed a $144 million deal with the LPL, the Chinese section of competitive League of Legends. While that deal is not set in stone, it is also not off the table entirely. According to a report from The Esports Observer, some organizations in the LPL took issue with the exclusivity portion of the contract.
As more major non-endemic brands enter esports, the major sports apparel companies are coming soon.
2. South Korea Telecom will win League of Legends Worlds
Another major esports predictions for 2019 is that the champs are going to make a comeback. The most dominant team in League – led by Faker, the most dominant player in all of esports – is coming off its worst year since Faker joined the team. The 2014, 15, and 16 LoL champions, SKT, missed LoL Worlds last year for the first time.
In response, the roster experienced massive turnover. Players from the world championship runs – including three-time champion Bang – were sent packing. In fact, Faker is the only one who survived. Moreover, he is now surrounded by some of the best young guns Korea has to offer.
With a good team around him, Faker is eyeing the pedestal once again.
3. The “top tier” of esports is going to get more crowded
Throughout esports history, some games have proven themselves to be the top esports draws. League of Legends is the most popular through viewership. Dota 2 boasts the highest single prize pool. CS:GO is the steady presence that has grown along with esports. Overwatch entered with a massive splash in its inaugural year.
In 2019, that scene will get more complicated.
Fortnite still has many competitive issues, but has also made many players a lot of money since the first official tournament over the summer. The return of the popular Black Ops series in Call of Duty has shot viewership through the roof. The first event of the 2019 Call of Duty World League hit nearly 200,000 viewers, more than any event in 2018 besides the championships.
As far as esports predictions for 2019 are concerned, those two games are the most likely to broach the top level of esports. However, other games like Rainbow Six: Siege, Rocket League, Clash Royale and Magic the Gathering: Arena are also worth watching out for.
4. The electronic card game is making an esports comeback
For years, Blizzard’s Hearthstone dominated the online card game space. Now they finally have some true competitors to watch out for in Magic the Gathering: Arena and Artifact. Magic is by far the most popular tabletop card game but never had much interest in going digital. Backed by toy company Hasbro, MTG: Arena has put down $10 million in prizes and guaranteed $75,000 salaries for players. Artifact is made by Valve, and will capitalize on the lore of Dota 2.
Like an animal with no natural predators, Hearthstone had gotten lazy. The competitive structure was abysmal and didn’t provide any consistency. Nerfs to overpowered cards took much too long. These two new games with big money behind them have forced Blizzard to step up. They radically changed the competitive structure and began taking down the power level of some of the games most complained about cards.
Our esports predictions for 2019 is that this battle between MTG: Arena, Artifact and the new Hearthstone esports system will truly heat up come the new year.
5. Fortnite’s esports scene will figure out what the hell it is
Right now, Fortnite’s competitive scene is a massive prize pool and little structure. Unlike just about every other esport, the format of Battle Royale (1vs100) makes it incredibly hard to organize competitively. Epic Games has placed $100 million in prizes for Fortnite esports and made some players millionaires already.
While the money is nice, the format is not. Since the announcement of the prize pool in May of 2018, Epic has hosted events called “skirmishes.” They come with each season, and each event has been different. The Winter Skirmish was marred by the introduction of planes and the “Infinity Blade,” an overpowered item that only one player could have and provided a massive advantage.
These skirmishes seem to be Epic just throwing stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks. So far they have made some competitive improvements, but will be trying to settle into a routine in 2019.
6. Mobile esports will become too big to ignore
As the computing power of mobile phones improves, so have the competitive scenes of the games on them. Many esports have mobile versions like Fortnite and Hearthstone. Some true mobile games, however, are poised to break through in 2019. While Clash Royale is the biggest, it has nonetheless taken plenty of criticism. That is because it is littered with micro transactions that are almost required to play the game at the highest level.
Ultimately though, that highest level does feature some very strategy-intensive gameplay. The Clash Royale League World Finals boasted nearly five million hours watched, according to viewership database Esports Charts.