Research Topic

Esports Management: Understanding the Global Phenomenon of Esports in the Digital World

About this Research Topic

Esports, also known as organized competitive gaming, has evolved from an underground culture into a mainstream industry worth billions of dollars today. The global esports market is projected to reach $1.8 billion in 2022 with a five-year CAGR of 22%. The global esports audience in 2019 was 454 million; this is over four times bigger than the NFL audience.

When video games enter the regime of esports by having organized structure of tournaments and leagues with rules at the amateur and professional levels, esports share many commonalities with traditional sports. The esports ecosystem shockingly resembles that of traditional sports in terms of the management of organizations, revenue structure, the operations of events, the grassroots-to-elite athlete development system, and the extensive training needed to accomplish the highest level of performance.

On the one hand, the traditional sports organizations integrate esports into their current portfolios of sports properties and develop tactics to increase fan bases for their sports and esports properties altogether. For example, FIFA (FIFA eWorld Cup), NBA (NBA 2K League), Formula 1 (F1 Esports Series), and many more are establishing major esports competitions and leagues alongside their corresponding traditional sports entities; the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers have invested in professional esports team the Pittsburgh Knights, which competes in PUBG, HearthStone, Fortnite, etc., in a deal that strategically joins together two major sports brands with millions of combined fans.

Not surprisingly, a synergy between the traditional sports and their electronic variation, esports, has been pursued from both sides.

On the other hand, more endemic esports organizations and game publishers keep trying to find the right way to create a tournament landscape of their game by benchmarking traditional sports leagues and tournaments. For example, one of the most popular esports titles, League of Legends’ four major leagues around the world have all moved to franchising systems by 2021 season, following the professional sports league system in the US for enhanced stability by eliminating the risks of relegation. In addition, global esports organizations such as the International Esports Federation (IESF), have reached out the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to add esports to the Olympic program as an official medal sport in the 2024 Paris summer games; esports was featured at the 2018 Asian Games as a demonstration sport.

The esports phenomenon has truly entered our lives and demands academic attention.

Compared to the rapid growth of the esports culture and industry, academic research in esports is evolving at a slower pace than is needed. Existing literature in academia covers a range of topics in esports including the motivations behind playing and viewing esports, and the production and distribution of esports contents. Still, research is in its infant stage needing more depth, and several important topics related, but not limited, to the issues of Olympics, legal problems, events, tourism, fandom, and big data have received relatively little academic attention. Also, the dark side of the field, such as the issues surrounding bullying, toxicity, gendered impact, and addiction problems related to esports, needs careful attention from academia. The goal of this Research Topic is to collect manuscripts that investigate broader facets of esports to advance our current knowledge in both theory and practice of esports.

Manuscripts of all methodological approaches including conceptual papers will be considered for publication. Inter-disciplinary research is encouraged. Areas of interest related to esports considered for publication include, but are not restricted to the following topical areas:

• Esports history and concepts
• Esports organization and governance
• Esports marketing and sponsorship
• Esports industry and business
• Esports media and communication
• Esports teams, tournaments, and leagues
• Esports human resource management
• Esports policy and regulations
• Esports integrity and legal issues
• Esports fandom and consumer psychology
• Esports event and tourism
• Esports economics and finance
• Esports and the Olympics
• Esports big data and analytics
• Esports and technology
• Esports and culture
• Esports future
• Gendered impact or experience of esports
• Issues surrounding bullying and toxicity related to esports

Topic Editor, Tobias Scholz, owns Activision Blizzard shares. The other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regard to the Research Topic subject.


Keywords: digital sports, competitive game, online video game, esports


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Esports, also known as organized competitive gaming, has evolved from an underground culture into a mainstream industry worth billions of dollars today. The global esports market is projected to reach $1.8 billion in 2022 with a five-year CAGR of 22%. The global esports audience in 2019 was 454 million; this is over four times bigger than the NFL audience.

When video games enter the regime of esports by having organized structure of tournaments and leagues with rules at the amateur and professional levels, esports share many commonalities with traditional sports. The esports ecosystem shockingly resembles that of traditional sports in terms of the management of organizations, revenue structure, the operations of events, the grassroots-to-elite athlete development system, and the extensive training needed to accomplish the highest level of performance.

On the one hand, the traditional sports organizations integrate esports into their current portfolios of sports properties and develop tactics to increase fan bases for their sports and esports properties altogether. For example, FIFA (FIFA eWorld Cup), NBA (NBA 2K League), Formula 1 (F1 Esports Series), and many more are establishing major esports competitions and leagues alongside their corresponding traditional sports entities; the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers have invested in professional esports team the Pittsburgh Knights, which competes in PUBG, HearthStone, Fortnite, etc., in a deal that strategically joins together two major sports brands with millions of combined fans.

Not surprisingly, a synergy between the traditional sports and their electronic variation, esports, has been pursued from both sides.

On the other hand, more endemic esports organizations and game publishers keep trying to find the right way to create a tournament landscape of their game by benchmarking traditional sports leagues and tournaments. For example, one of the most popular esports titles, League of Legends’ four major leagues around the world have all moved to franchising systems by 2021 season, following the professional sports league system in the US for enhanced stability by eliminating the risks of relegation. In addition, global esports organizations such as the International Esports Federation (IESF), have reached out the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to add esports to the Olympic program as an official medal sport in the 2024 Paris summer games; esports was featured at the 2018 Asian Games as a demonstration sport.

The esports phenomenon has truly entered our lives and demands academic attention.

Compared to the rapid growth of the esports culture and industry, academic research in esports is evolving at a slower pace than is needed. Existing literature in academia covers a range of topics in esports including the motivations behind playing and viewing esports, and the production and distribution of esports contents. Still, research is in its infant stage needing more depth, and several important topics related, but not limited, to the issues of Olympics, legal problems, events, tourism, fandom, and big data have received relatively little academic attention. Also, the dark side of the field, such as the issues surrounding bullying, toxicity, gendered impact, and addiction problems related to esports, needs careful attention from academia. The goal of this Research Topic is to collect manuscripts that investigate broader facets of esports to advance our current knowledge in both theory and practice of esports.

Manuscripts of all methodological approaches including conceptual papers will be considered for publication. Inter-disciplinary research is encouraged. Areas of interest related to esports considered for publication include, but are not restricted to the following topical areas:

• Esports history and concepts
• Esports organization and governance
• Esports marketing and sponsorship
• Esports industry and business
• Esports media and communication
• Esports teams, tournaments, and leagues
• Esports human resource management
• Esports policy and regulations
• Esports integrity and legal issues
• Esports fandom and consumer psychology
• Esports event and tourism
• Esports economics and finance
• Esports and the Olympics
• Esports big data and analytics
• Esports and technology
• Esports and culture
• Esports future
• Gendered impact or experience of esports
• Issues surrounding bullying and toxicity related to esports

Topic Editor, Tobias Scholz, owns Activision Blizzard shares. The other Topic Editors declare no competing interests with regard to the Research Topic subject.


Keywords: digital sports, competitive game, online video game, esports


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

01 July 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

01 July 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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