Everything You Need To Know About Canadian eSports 2023

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by Rae Dover
| 10/02/2022
Canada eSports

Competitive video gaming or eSports is a phenomenon that continues to grow around the world. The eSports industry was estimated to be worth $1.1 billion in 2021, a 15.7% growth year-over-year. Meanwhile, viewership for eSports has increased as well. According to Newzoo, an analyst company and industry insider, some 495 million people were considered to be part of the global audience in 2021.

One of the countries to already have a sizeable footprint in eSports is Canada. In a short time, Canada has been able to promote players, events, and teams, who have won renown in the world of competitive video gaming and have put the "Great White North" on the eSports map.

Canada's eSports in Numbers

eSports in Canada is built on the popularity of video gaming, which has proven a successful industry all on its own. Canada ranks #8 in the world in terms of game revenues, estimated at $2.3 billion in 2018. The number of active players in the country is estimated at 21.2 million.  Another interesting fact is that gaming in Canada is gender-neutral, with almost the same number of male and female players engaging with video games, and eSports, according to Newzoo. Canadians prefer League of Legends as the most-watched eSports game, but no exact numbers are available.  In 2019, an estimated 1.5 million Canadians watched eSports at least once monthly. With the signage of the Vancouver Titans who are housed at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canadians turned an eye to other popular eSports franchises, Overwatch and the Overwatch League.

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What eSports Games Are Popular in Canada in 2023?

League of Legends may be one of the most-watched games in Canada, but most professional teams tend to gravitate towards other games. Based on the number of teams and overall earnings, Canadians play mostly several eSports games, including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, StarCraft II, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and Rocket League.  This information is processed based on the participation of all-Canadian eSports teams in domestic or international competitions. Presently, Canada has individual players in other games, including Dota 2, StarCraft: Brood War, Hearthstone, and League of Legends.  Battle royale games and first-person shooter have also seen a growth in overall interest with titles as Rainbow Six: Siege, Fortnite, Call of Duty, Halo, and Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, with possible Valorant soon joining.

Successful eSports Teams in Canada

Canada has had at least three successful competitive eSports franchises, allowing the country to compete in international events under its own flag. At this point, it's important to interject that unlike traditional sports, eSports does not rely on the nationality of the player. Rather, all organizations seek to create the best team that works well together and secures titles.  In its history, Canada has admittedly had more successful individual players than teams. So far, the competitive outfits that represent the country include Luminosity Gaming with $1,347,382 in prize winnings.

Vancouver Titans, an Overwatch League (OWL) franchise from Vancouver, have secured $950,000 in winnings so far. Toronto Defiant, another OWL team has only managed to win $30,000 in prize money, but is still held in high esteem by the local community in Toronto, Ontario, which it represents. Loyal eSports followers back their passion by wagering online at sportsbooks offering esport betting lines on events, teams and individual players.  Next, Canada has Team NP which has managed to secure $224,679 in earnings from tournaments so far. Beyond these four teams, Canada has inspired many players to pursue greatness in eSports. We take a look at them next.  

Who Are Canada's Most Successful eSports Players?

The list of Canadian eSports players is long. There are at least 500 players who have won anything between $3,359 to over $2,253,053. These numbers are constantly changing, as player pools are growing around the clock.  From Dota 2 to Fortnite, companies, fans and sponsors are investing heavily to boost prize pools and create a better financial opportunity for talented players to shine and earn a fair living.  While a few years ago, most players weren't salaried, meaning they only split whatever they received from tournaments, this has changed today, and players can expect to have a base salary as well as a percentage of the prize pools they win.  The games that have brought Canadian players the biggest financial benefits are Dota 2, Fortnite, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. There are other success stories, naturally, but we will talk about them on a case-by-case basis.  Meanwhile, there are at least three Canadian eSports players who are millionaires today, thanks to their participation in competitive video gaming. Artour "Arteezy" Babaev ($2,253,053), Kurtis "Aui_2000" Ling (2,002,778), and Williams "Zayt" Aubin ($1,118,166).

Arteezy and Aui_2000 are two of the most famous names in Dota 2, a competitive game developed by Valve whereas Zayt competes in Fortnite, a battle royale game developed by Epic Games. All three players are renowned and respected for their achievements and distinct eSports strategic abilities in the games.  Meanwhile, there have been many other players who have successfully leveraged their competitive abilities to win a respectable amount to their names. Thomas "Elevate" Krueger has won $987,708.20 playing Fortnite. Jacky "EternalEnvy" Mao amassed $976,099.69 playing Dota 2. Both Arteezy and EternalEnvy play for some of the best Dota 2 teams in the world, Evil Geniuses and Cloud9 respectively.  Keith "NAF" Markovic and Russel van "Twistzz" Dulken have a notable presence in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has won $962,165.66 and $822,776.43 respectively. The list goes on, naturally. The number of professional eSports players is growing and the amounts won to their names increasing.  To qualify as an eSports player in Canada, a person must be signed up by a professional team or to have consistently competed in official, sponsored tournaments.

eSports Tournaments in Canada

As noted before, eSports doesn't have a localized character. Competitions are global and they mostly take place in different locations around the world or online. Since the novel coronavirus pandemic began in February 2020, many organizations have preferred to switch to an online format. Some of the most notable eSports tournament hosts, including ESL, Blast Pro, and DreamHack have all transitioned to an online format or LAN events, but without any public.  The Overwatch League and the Call of Duty League, two franchised games played usually in person at physical arenas in North America, have decided to follow suit and introduce an online format while the pandemic lasts.  Fortnite and Dota 2 have postponed the biggest events many Canadian eSports professional players and teams have been looking for, namely the Fortnite World Cup and The International. Both events have been rescheduled for a yet unspecified date in 2023.  League of Legends has also decided to cancel the League of Legends Worlds, the equivalent of American Super Bowl for the video game community, and push it back to a date when the cases of COVID-19 have become manageable.

All Counter-Strike and Rainbow Six: Siege tournaments are now held online, but hosts only invite Tier One teams, i.e. organizations with an established track record who can be trusted not to use banned software when playing remotely.  In terms of events and tournaments hosted specifically in Canada, there are presently at least three organizations that run small-scale events to incentivize the local community. They include the OeSL (Ontario eSports League), Red Bull, and the Canada eSports League (CEL).

How Can You Find a Job in the Canadian eSports Industry?

According to HitMarketJobs.com, a website dedicated to analyzing the eSports industry and professional opportunities, competitive video gaming has long evolved to be not just about the players, but other people involved in establishing the identity of organizations such as Cloud9, Evil Geniuses, Toronto Defiant, and so on.  The jobs that you can land in the industry are many and varied and they include Senior Social Managers, Racing Game Editors, Head Coaches, Partnership Account Managers, Writers, Video Content Creators, and more.

Being involved in the industry as a player is no longer the only accessible and viable option. Because of the more mainstream character of Canadian eSports, people today need various degrees to help organizations within competitive video games sign partnerships, drive additional revenue, and brand themselves better, which is usually the case of specialists.  In fact, companies are hiring executives from S&P 500 Index companies and putting them in key positions to turn their eSports organizations profitable. Building a loyal following is still important and so is winning prize money, but most teams have been able to diversify their revenue and they need people with the correct skillset.  

Can You Study eSports in Canada?

One of the latest trends in eSports in Canada and the United States is the eSports scholarships which allow gifted players to study a subject that gravitates around the video gaming industry with a particular focus on eSports.  The scholarships allow individuals to land a full or partial scholarship that covers their tuition fees. In exchange, players must meet specific practice targets, but most universities do not set the same standards as they do and expect from college basketball or football student athletes, for example.  High school and college eSports bursaries are growing in popularity, however, and Canada is not one to miss out on the trend. The varsity programs are considered a worthwhile investment. For example, in the United States, the Harrisburg's University in Pennsylvania invests $2 million a year for training eSports players and providing them with scholarships.

Most universities are now building dedicated eSports arenas and training facilities that can both serve as practice grounds for players but also host small competitions between universities. The most prominent school in Canada to offer a varsity program and scholarship presently is Durham College which has its own dedicated training facility.

What's Next for Canada's eSports?

Canada has its own unique eSports footprint. Naturally, most of the eSports industry is focused in the United States, China, and Southeast Asia. However, Europe and Canada also have the potential to be big. Europe already hosts many of the biggest eSports events with more coming down the pipeline.  As for Canada, the country is in the process of promoting eSports in a more competitive setting. The audience for eSports in Canada is growing and so are the players. People are choosing to specialise in the industry and pursue a professional future career. By all estimates, Canada's eSports community is bound to continue growing.  Many eSports fans and players are transitioning to enjoying eSports wagering online, with many of the top sportsbooks in Canada offering increasing betting markets online. True North Casinos' eSports guide is the perfect informative starting point for newcomers, and the eSports betting strategy blog is essential reading for the more advanced bettors. 

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