The incredible growth of esports continues amidst the pandemic

The esports industry has seen tremendous growth in recent years. The industry has seen significant year-over-year growth since 2015. The growth rate exceeded 10% in 2019 and 2020 and is expected to continue at that rate through 2023. The global esports market was valued at just over $950 million in 2020 and is expected to reach almost $1.6 billion in 2023.

Increasing viewership has been the main contributor to the revenue growth. This increase in viewership has caught the attention of major brands that see the potential of reaching large, engaged audiences. The rise in viewership has also meant growth for the viewing platforms like Twitch and YouTube. By 2023, Newzoo predicts the total audience could exceed 640 million.

Although many events were cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, the industry continues to gain awareness and grow its audience. The total hours watched grew almost 92% between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020—proving there has been growing interest during the pandemic.

Playing Esports by Sean Do

Local Growth

In the past year, esports have seen incredible growth in the Eugene-Springfield metro area.

University of Oregon

The Esports program at the University of Oregon began as a club sport with a small group of players. In the 2019-2020 school year, the program joined 170 other schools in offering esports as an official collegiate program.

Last year, Oregon alumni gamer David Gugliotti was hired as the Esports Program Director. Gugliotti graduated from the UO with an MBA in sports marketing and was president and founder of UO Esports and co-president of the gaming club while attending the university. He continues to help grow the program that now offers students opportunities in marketing and broadcasting, with five esports teams for competitive players.

In the program’s first year, early successes included the League of Legends and Call of Duty teams both making the playoffs, and the Rocket League team making it to the finals. The Hearthstone team won the ESPN Collegiate Esports Championship.

While the pandemic has kept students and varsity players out of the recently built Esports Lounge on campus much of this year, the teams have continued to practice at home. The program has also hosted multiple tournaments for the community since the start of the pandemic and hopes to continue to hold more going forward.

Bushnell University

Bushnell University, formerly Northwest Christian University, is a private, Christian liberal arts college in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Division that competes in 11 sports. Esports is one of the 11 sports and an important one for recruiting.

In 2018, Bushnell University opened a new gaming arena and competition viewing area on campus and began offering varsity players partial scholarships. In fact, it was the first academic institution in Oregon to offer esports scholarships. Many gamers were drawn to the university because of the program.

Bushnell has a competitive esports program that includes League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Fortnite, Rocket League and Super Smash Bros and Volarant teams. The Valorant team made the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) playoffs in 2020.

Willamalane Esports Club

In 2020, Willamalane Park and Recreation District introduced a new esports club named Squirrel Alchemy Esports Club. The club is open to anyone over the age of seven and Willamalane aims to build a friendly, all-ages community of gamers to learn, develop skills, form teams, and compete together.

Willamalane sees the video gaming club as an opportunity for members to build friendships, develop teamwork and decision-making skills, and even earn collegiate scholarships and build careers—especially given two universities in the area offer esports programs.

Esports Event

Community Support

Creating a thriving gaming destination comes when communities build a foundation from within to support a true ongoing and profitable presence of esports. Based on the growth of the industry, it is incredibly important for cities to support growing esports organizations and clubs that exist within their community. Local enthusiasts are the seeds from which a sustainable gaming community grows—even though local clubs are still building their programs and becoming more competitive.

Eugene is home to a strong tech sector, has two higher educational institutions with esports programs, and has illustrated a proven commitment to innovation. Activating and nurturing local relationships will be key in growing the destination for esports events and tourism. The Eugene, Cascades & Coast Sports Commission is dedicated to supporting esports in our region and is here to help local groups develop new tournaments and events. For more information, contact Joey Jewell at