Esports in Asia


Asia Currently Dominates Over 50% of the $1 Billion Global Esports Market

Abhimannu Das
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Asian esports generated $543.8 million USD in revenue in 2020, representing a 4.9% increase over 2019 despite the challenges of COVID-19.
The Asian esports market accounts for more than 54% of the nearly US $1 Billion USD global esports market.
Esports viewership in Asia boomed in 2020, growing to 618.4 million esports spectators in 2020.

According to a report by Niko Partners, Asia is currently the world’s biggest market for esports with over $543.8 million USD in revenues generated by the region in 2020. This marks a 4.9% increase over 2019 despite the global pandemic attempting to curb the rapid growth of esports. According to the report, esports operators had to move to online events, but the Asian market continued to grow despite the challenges. Revenue for esports in 2021 is likely to be around $600 million USD excluding revenue generated by game sales but it includes revenue generated by the esports industry.

Esports in Asia boomed despite the pandemic

Despite losing revenue through merchandising and ticket sales, esports viewership boomed in 2020 to 618.4 million esports spectators in 2020. The year marked a 21% increase over the 510 million Asian esports spectators in 2019.

Niko Partners’ Director of Esports Research, Alexander Champlin, told GamesBeat that in-person events will continue in China but other regions might not be going back to esports stadiums anytime soon. He said that the Dota 2 One Esports Singapore Major, one of the largest in-person esports events that was about to take place in Southeast Asia in 2021, will likely be “more of a fluke than the start of a return to normal.”

Niko Partners - Esports in Asia Report

He revealed that the industry has prepared itself for an online-only ecosystem, which has led to brand partnerships and streaming deals becoming the heart of the industry in an online-only world. He added “most growth in 2020 came from these two sectors of the industry and we predict, even after in-person events resume, these will remain the segments that drive the market.”

The insights by Niko Partners resonates with Twitter’s global insights earlier this year. Even in terms of social media engagement, Asia is leading by a huge margin. Japan, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, and India take up five out of the top ten spots in the ‘Countries Tweeting Most About Gaming’ category in Twitter’s esports and gaming insights for 2021.

It will be interesting to see if Asia continues to dominate the esports market in the future and if the global pandemic causes any noticeable shifts in the esports market. With a number of countries still battling the pandemic, esports is looking to stay online-only in most regions.

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Abhimannu is a part of the content team at AFK Gaming and a lifelong obsessive gamer. He currently covers esports titles like VALORANT, CS: GO, Call of Duty, Fortnite, PUBG and more.