Esports around the World is a series of profiles outlining the esports ecosystem in various nations globally. This edition looks at the United States of America (USA).
The esports commercial market in the US is the second largest in the world, behind China, however the country leads when it comes to industry investment. Home to many popular personalities, organisations, tournaments and developers — the United States has integrated its long industrial history in sport, entertainment, and broadcasting into the global esports industry, creating world-class spectacles and brands.
This push dawned from the formative, grassroots competitive video gaming tournaments of the 90s, through the birth of Major League Gaming (MLG) in the early 2000s, through the multi-faceted commercial franchise models, infrastructure companies, agencies, and other players of today.
The United States is a massive market, and while there have been pushes towards creating esports hubs around the US, there are plenty of locations that are underserved with local businesses and teams. The Activision-Blizzard owned Overwatch League (OWL) and Call of Duty League (CDL) are geo-located esports franchises largely focused on the US, akin to the typical US franchised sports model of teams representing a city or state.
As one of the most important markets in all of esports, the US can serve as an example of the potential of esports adoption. However, its outlier potential should be kept in mind when comparing to other countries and market sizes.
The United States officially recognised esports as a sport in 2013. It brought with it the official qualification of professional esports competitors as athletes entitled to apply for the country’s temporary worker P1A visa. The visa was created to facilitate those who seek to come to the United States solely for the purpose of performing at a specific athletic competition.
Riot Games was instrumental in this recognition. Nick Allen, former Esports Manager at Riot, discussed the process in a 2013 interview with Gamespot.
Notable Tournaments & Leagues
With a massive esports audience and an even bigger commercial structure underpinning that audience, a number of notable tournaments and leagues call the US home. This includes both domestic-oriented tournaments, such as North American portions of wider international leagues, as well as playoff tournaments in international circuits.
Esports Insider is hosting ESI Washington DC 2022 in May, a major B2B industry conference held in the US capital. The event will embrace the country’s eminent position within the global esports industry and offer ESI’s trademark combination of networking, education and content —click here for tickets.
Notable Esports Organisations
Note that this is a non-exhaustive list and exclusion does not signify an org is not notable.
National Associations / Federations
Note that inclusion in this list does not suggest any acknowledgement from ESI of its authority, works or official capacity.
Due to its strong tradition in collegiate sports, the US is home to arguably the most substantive collegiate esports infrastructure of any country.
A host of colleges and universities offer esports degrees in the US, many focusing on Esports Management or Business.
At the time of writing, there are 190 schools partnered with the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), offering Varsity level esports programmes and scholarships. Many of those offer substantial scholarships to students.
This is a preliminary country profile and will be augmented with additional information over time. If you have any suggestions or feedback for this profile, please get in touch at [email protected]
Follow ESI on Instagram