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2016 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for eSports in terms of investors, and this past month we’ve seen some important announcements and partnerships, both local and international, that are set to shape the future of eSports globally.

Research firm Newzoo’s 2016 global eSports market report, which was released last week, predicts year-on-year growth of 43%, with revenues expected to reach $463 million in 2016 and up to $1.1 billion by 2019. According to their report the eSports audience will likely hit 131 million viewers in 2016 plus an additional 125 million occasional viewers who mainly watch only the big international events.

Newzoo_Esports_Report_2016_Audience_Growth_V4Newzoo_Esports_Report_2016_Revenue_Growth_V4

This year kicked off with the announcement that publisher Activision had acquired eSports organisation Major League Gaming (MLG) for $46 million. Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, said, “Our acquisition of Major League Gaming’s business furthers our plans to create the ESPN of eSports. MLG’s ability to create premium content, its proven broadcast technology platform – including its live streaming capabilities – strengthens our strategic position in competitive gaming. MLG has an incredibly strong and seasoned team and a thriving community. Together, we will create new ways to celebrate players and their unique skills, dedication and commitment to gaming.”

One week later a new Twitter account popped up for ESPN Sports, @ESPN_Esports, and their website is now “sporting” tons of added eSports content.

Then last week local eSports organisation Orena announced that they have a new investor: Food Lover’s Market. Yesterday they released details for their first CS:GO tournament of 2016, which will take place over the Valentine’s Day weekend in Cape Town and carries a prize pool of R30,000 in cash.

Last week came to a close with another big announcement from Telkom with their launch of the Digital Gaming League (DGL) Masters programme for elite multi-gaming organisations (MGOs) with prize money totalling R1 million in cash.

“The Masters programme will become the pinnacle of eSports in South Africa where eight MGOs will compete for R1 million in cash, the largest prize pool in South African eSports history. At the same time, the DGL will develop the local eSports to bring in new gamers through casual gaming competitions, improved spectator access and increased awareness,” says Enzo Scarcella, Telkom’s chief marketing officer.

The MGOs competing in the 2016 Masters are – Aperture Gaming, Bravado Gaming, CarboN eSports, Damage Control, In-Finity Gaming, Veneration E-Sports, White Rabbit Gaming and Xperts@Total.Chaos.

8 clan leads with Paul Chaloner; Telkom’s Chief Marketing Officer Enzo Scarcella with official league trophy.

“Gaming has seen phenomenal growth over the past few years as players become ever more engaged. We already have more than four million gamers in South Africa. By professionalising the sport and developing new players, we can look forward to seeing more local talent compete on the same footing as international teams,” says Johann Von Backström from the DGL Management Company.

The Telkom DGL Masters will be hosted at rAge 2016.

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