The rise of esports in Mexico and Latin America

Mexico is consolidating as a huge market for the development of eSports, although it still has enormous growth opportunities compared to other more developed countries, according to industry experts.

It has been easier to find companies interested in sponsoring eSports than to start basketball.
It has been easier to find companies interested in sponsoring eSports than to start basketball.

Forecasts estimate that in five or ten years, eSports will surpass sports like Mexican basketball, explained to Efe Jordi Funtanet, partner of Capitanes, a team from Mexico City that participates in the National League of Professional Basketball (LNBP) and has also bet on growing eSports.

"Mexico is a huge eSports market that is not served now. I see the possibility that between five or 10 years an eSports company is bigger than a basketball company, but for this to happen we depend on the trust of brands and the public," said Funtanet.

Latin America has 45 million eSports viewers with a market that this year has generated profits of $32 million dollars, being Mexico the second country that generates more audience in the region behind Brazil, according to data from the consulting firm Newzoo. The electronic sports market generated in 2019 worldwide more than one billion dollars and it is estimated that in 2022 will reach 1,790, according to the same consultant. Compared to basketball, the LNBP league had in the 2018-2019 campaign a total of 29 million spectators with about 1 million people attending the stadiums, according to its president, Sergio Ganem.

Sergio Funtanet entered the eSports market this year with the MATEM league playoff, a project in which he will have 10 teams with three titles: League of Legends 1vs1, Team Fight Tactics and FIFA 20.

In its circuit, which will start in February 2020, there are 60 players that will be divided into 20 per video game.

Another of the reasons why Funtanet decided to bet on the eSports business is because it estimates the existence of great growth potential in comparison with Europe, the United States, and Asia.

"The Mexican market is not where it should be. We are not at the level of the great world powers such as South Korea, the United States, and Europe, but it is clear to me that we can get there because there is a great one. I've seen the players we have in the MATEM league and I know they could be at the level of international players, but they need institutional support," Funtanet said.

According to Funtanet, the next two years will define the esports companies that will dominate the country's scene.

Therefore, it will seek to implement the business model it used with Capitanes because MATEM is another way to manage high-performance professional sports.

"The confidence to enter the eSports comes from what has been achieved in Capitanes. The eSports business model comprises the model of a basketball team and the league team as well. The model of hiring players, turning them into professionals so that they are figures to follow, that they have followers, get sponsorships, all that is a model of traditional sport," commented Funtanet.

At the moment, MATEM's teams belong to Funtanet, but their plan is to place them with managers, which is why they made them available to players who are experts in marketing so that they are attractive for sponsors and the audience.

He added that it has been easier for him to find companies interested in sponsoring eSports than when he started basketball.

"The approach to ask for sponsorship in eSports is simpler, although the amounts that still move in Mexican basketball are higher with exceptions," he said.

ESPORTS WILL TAKE AWAY FOOTBALL FANS IN MEXICO

The eSports will not replace football in the short term in Mexico, but will take away fans to form a bigger fan base, researcher José Ángel Garfias, a specialist from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), told Efe.

A specialist from UNAM assures that they will become a recurrent practice among Mexican fans. Photo: EFE
A specialist from UNAM assures that they will become a recurrent practice among Mexican fans. Photo: EFE

"eSports are not going to replace soccer in the short term, but they will have a good fan base and good athletes to be a recurring practice among young fans," said Garfias, who studied Communication Sciences.

The expert began a three-year project at UNAM on Jan. 6 to learn about the social impact of eSports in Mexico.

In this country, soccer is the most popular sport according to a survey by the firm Consulta Mitofsky in its latest poll published in mid-2019.

According to the report, football has 57.4% of preferences, in second place is boxing with 48.8% and third, basketball with 33.6%, but eSports does not appear on the list.

"I don't know if eSports can be the second most followed sport in Mexico because we already have deep-rooted traditions and I don't think it will happen in the next five years, but in the long run I think it will," added Garfias.

The Newzoo firm predicted profits of $32 million dollars in eSports in Latin America in 2019, while soccer in Mexico left $1.329 billion dollars in profits in the country alone, according to analyses by the Group of Economists and Associates and Applied Research (GEA-ISA).

Since 2015, Garfias has led the Finisterra at the UNAM, a community of researchers in video games, animation, comics, and other cultural products.

In the last three years, he has coordinated and written six publications in which he theorizes about video games.

The research project on eSports headed by Garfias has as its general lines the economic part, the sports and the show that this practice represents.

"In the economic part we will look for the conditions that made eSports an industry; in the sports one, how the players go from a plan of fun to one of federated competition and with institutions that put rules and validity to a tournament, while in the show we will look for a profile of the public and how they manage to get them transmitted", explained Garfias.

The project will consist of 10 researchers, who will have as partners the Mexican Sports Federation (Femes), recognized by the Mexican Ministry of Sport, and the Universidad Anahuac, an institution that has representative teams.

Femes will help researchers collaborate with contacts of sportsmen and women and share the experience of how they became a federation endorsed by the Mexican government.

La Anáhuac will complement the seminar in which researchers will discuss the progress of the project.

Garfias hopes that more colleagues will join, and for the time being there are people on his team from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM) and the Instituto Tecnológico de Estudios Superiores Monterrey (ITESM).

"The objective of this project is to generate theories that help generate public policies for eSports. Each year we will publish a book of each of the general lines and we will make an annual colloquium and a semester seminar to compile the information and divulge it," said Garfias.

The researcher said that one of the ways the Mexican government can support eSports is to first understand them, to know what they are, and then to inform parents that it is not a bad thing, but a sport.

Garfias hopes that his project will help UNAM consider eSports as a school sport.

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.

The Mexican E-Sports Federation, which was born two years ago and became widely known in February 2019, achieved the recognition of Conade so that E-Sports in Mexico would be named as a mental sport like dominoes or chess. For this reason, playing video games is now recognized as a sport and is not a useless activity.

A month ago, the national E-Sports championship ended in León, Guanajuato, where six titles were played, from which a Mexican team was assembled to face off at an international level.

INFINITY ESPORTS AND UNIVERSIDAD ANAHUAC JOIN FORCES FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF ESPORTS IN MEXICO

Infinity Esports and the Universidad Anahuac Mexico through its School of Sports Science announce a strategic alliance to promote the growth of sports in Mexico. As the first step of this agreement Infinity Academy is born, a team that will play the 2020 season of the League of Legends Telcel Honor Division.

The union is part of a long-term project that not only reaches the competition in the Honor Division, but also includes the main team of Infinity that will play the new season of the LLA from February. Within this framework, the roster and staff of Infinity will have at their disposal all the facilities and services provided by the university to develop their sports and physical training and recreational activities. In addition, medical and psychological coverage are an important part of the agreement. In addition, the team's Gaming House is strategically located near the main campus which allows the players to live the university experience on a daily basis.

"We have been working on this partnership since last year and we are very excited and proud that a model institution in Mexico like Universidad Anahuac Mexico has chosen us to leverage their bet on the Esports. Infinity Academy is the beginning of a very ambitious project that not only focuses on sports but also on the educational and recreational aspect, with programs, scholarships and events on campus that we will be developing for electronic sports lovers and the general public," said Diego Foresi, CEO of Infinity Esports.

The collaboration between the two institutions marks a milestone for Sports in Latin America since for the first time a club and an educational institution are joining forces to grow the scene. Currently, the Universidad Anahuac has 8 campuses throughout Mexico and more than 80,000 graduates of the more than 60 degrees offered. With this agreement, the institution expands its commitment to the development of sports and sets a precedent of opportunity for areas of research and teaching at a Latin American level.

Dr. Igor Rubio Sosa, Director of the Faculty of Sports Sciences of the Universidad Anahuac Mexico said, "Our alliance with the Club Infinity Esports, is the result of the joint work between both directors and by which, the Universidad Anahuac Mexico joins with the best club of Sports at Latin America, since we share in a direct way ideologies of professionalism and comprehensive training for our young people, which unite us in favor of the national and international ecosystem of the sports.

ESports are a successful economic model in first world countries, they are an example of sports management and competitive worldwide. As a sports event, the World Cup 2019 Final (LOL) in Paris attracted 21.8 million average viewers per minute, breaking all audience records.

Details of the partnership will be announced shortly at a press conference attended by players, staff, and directors of both institutions.

The roster of Infinity Academy will consist of the following players:

- Top: Saul Sanchez Gonzalez "Lukwer"

- Jungle: Sebastián Espinosa de los Montes Barrera "Chevis"

- MID: Mauricio Vargas Escamilla "Amskilleth"

- ADC: Juan Camilo Gutiérrez Labrada "Milo

- Support: Álvaro Alexis Pérez Rivera "MacCuin"

- Understudy: Marco Emanuel Rodríguez González "Zenitsu"

- Coach: Emmanuel Ensuastegui "Maximus E"