Also known as competitive gaming, eSports has been big in Asia for quite some time now, but this phenomenon is now hitting the rest of the world – in a big way!

From unknown kids playing in basements for little-to-no money a few years ago, to massive events taking place in stadium sized arenas for seven-figure prize money today, the rise of eSports has been nothing short of astounding.

2015 was the biggest year in eSports history, seeing over 334 million people tune in to watch the League of Legends World Championships, and over $18 million in prize money being won at the International 5 Dota 2 tournament.

The general consensus is that 2016 will be even bigger, with more tournaments and more prize money up for grabs.

Along with the people that fill the arenas and those that watch at home, we’ve seen interest from advertisers and promoters skyrocket as well.

Multi-million dollar sponsorships for the bigger events have become the norm, and coverage from mainstream outlets, such as ESPN, has also helped to grow the industry.

One of the largest and most lucrative events in the eSports calendar takes place in August – The International – a Dota 2 competition.

Last year the top six teams in the tournament shared over $15 million between them, with a further $1 million distributed amongst other competitors.

With massive interest and prize money helping to attract more and more viewers, we’re now seeing predictions that the global value of the eSports industry could reach almost $1 billion in 2016. This growth is attracting investors and advertisers, with some pretty heavy-hitters getting involved.

Much like the games played on the screen, investors and advertisers can look forward to enjoying a programmatic, analytical approach to how best to spend their dollars.

One gaming marketing agency, Machinima, claims it will use internal analytics to help brands understand the gaming world, and assist them in deciding where to invest their money. Warner Bros and Google are among their clients.

The reason for a lot of the marketing interest can be found in recent studies of who exactly makes up the demographic.

Gone are the days when it was widely considered to be only kids that dominated the gaming world. Today, the average gamer is thought to be in their mid-30’s, and a vast chunk of them are working professionals that bring disposable income to the table.

Advertisers are slowly realising that rather than competing with each other in the saturated regular sports market, the eSports marketplace offers prime opportunities for those who are willing to move fast.

Whichever way you look at it, 2016 is shaping up to be another major year for the eSports. It’s certainly not the fad that many considered it to be, a few years ago.