The rise of esports in Mexico and Latin America

While Mexico is consolidating as a major market for the development of esports, it continues to have enormous opportunities for growth compared to other more developed countries.

The rise of esports in Mexico and Latin America
Mexico's esports arena. Image: Agencies

Mexico will celebrate this Sunday the 'Day of the Gamer' as the capital of esports in Latin America, something it earned thanks to the size of its population, its geographical proximity to the United States, and for being the regional headquarters of large video game companies such as Riot Games and Ubisoft. Mexico closed 2020 with 72.3 million 'gamers', of which 11.1 million consume eSports tournaments. Mexico is a potential and strategic market for the video game industry due to its location, close to all Latin markets.

Having their operations center in the North American country allowed them to close sponsorship agreements for the League of Legends Latin American League, the main competition in the region that is played in Mexico City, with transnational brands such as the sports brand Puma. It also built the first exclusive stadium for esports in Latin America, which required an investment of 2.5 million dollars and was achieved with the help of one of the largest television stations in the country.

From Mexico, Riot Games coordinates two of the most important competitions in the world, League of Legends and Valorant, for the region. In the former, the developer has from university leagues to second divisions in countries such as Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, among others. Ubisoft runs from Mexico the competitive Spanish-speaking Latin America of Rainbow Six Siege, which has the Mexican and South American Championship.

Mexico is a good country to work in as an international company. It is one of the Latin American countries that is easy to enter and generate projects such as the Six Major. It is important to highlight its economic stability compared to other currencies. The country is the only one in the Spanish-speaking Latin American region with an on-site Rainbow Six Siege League, in addition to hosting a Six Major, an international tournament.

The Mexican scene that was created in 2018 saved South America from falling behind in competitive level with Brazil, which, because it speaks Portuguese, coordinates separately. Not only do the big video game creators see Mexico as the Latin capital of esports, but competition operators such as the Liga de Videojuegos Profesional (LVP) and GGTech conceive it as their big market after their country of origin, Spain.

Are esports sports?

Nowadays, electronic sports or E-Sports are manifestations of communities that not only seek to have fun but to be the best in the game in which they compete. E-sports are any professional or semi-professional competition that includes the use of video games within an organized, regulated competition that promotes a competitive community. Over the years, communities that wanted to compete and show who was better within a game led to approaches from brands or game developers that take specific elements for competitiveness and make very dedicated games specifically designed for e-sports.

Video games were evolving from entertainment to a specialization, because as the games advance, new techniques to beat your opponent start to appear, even in the neighborhood arcade machines. Therefore, strategies and discipline are components that are beginning to characterize competitive activity. Nowadays, the variability of competition in the video game itself must be equal for everyone, this means that if several people are going to compete, the skill of the players must be the one that determines the victory and the defeat, and not the random element of the video game, like the purchase of a skill.

A brief history of esports

One of the first records of the use of the term "sport" dates from the late 1990s. In 1999, Matt Bettington, a journalist with the British video game news site Eurogamer, compared electronic sports with traditional sports in a press release on the launch of the Online Gamers Association (OGA). Although the term esports was coined in the late 1990s, there is no consensus on the exact date when this social activity was born. The first known video game tournament took place at Stanford University in 1972, where a group of five students competed in the game Spacewar to win a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. In 1980, the Atari video game company organized a Space Invaders video game tournament, which attracted 10,000 people, making it the first mass event for this type of activity.

The development of the Internet and the need for content that would fill this new media made electronic sports begin to take on the structure with which we now know them. According to Michael G. Wagner, a researcher at the Danube University Krems, in Austria, from the '90s onwards, esports took two routes of development: a western and an eastern one. Wagner states that, in the United States and Europe, esports were consolidated in tournaments from the publication of first-person shooting games such as Doom (1993) and Quake (1996). In Asia, and more specifically in South Korea, esports was one of the contents that took more impulse as a result of the public policies that the country implemented to deregulate telecommunication operators, which triggered the growth of broadband networks.