Mexican Soccer League shifts to esports over Covid-19

The Mexican Football League announced the eLiga MX, the FIFA 20 esports video game tournament that will replace the physical championship during the hiatus caused by the covid-19 pandemic.

Mexico's esports arena. Photo: El Sol de Mexico
Mexico's esports arena. Photo: El Sol de Mexico

The 18 teams in the Mexican First Division will announce their squads during the week, with three first-team players playing from their homes. The team will select two days before the match the player who will be active on the pitch through his Play Station 4.

The eLiga MX will have two games per week, one from Friday to Sunday and the other from Monday to Wednesday, to rest on Thursday. The competition starts with the match between Necaxa and Monterrey.

The games will be broadcast nationally by the two main television networks in the country and Chivas TV, in the case of Guadalajara's home games.

Each half of the game will last six minutes with a 2.38-minute half-time and the format will be 1v1. Both 'gamers' will have interaction at the start of the game; each match will have a commentator, as well as pre- and post-game coverage, with interviews with the protagonists.

The organizers explained that there will only be a maximum of four matches per day. For the champion, there will be a special badge that accredits the winner of the eLiga Mx, in addition, winners will also be recognized in individual categories.

The Clausura 2020 tournament stopped after the match of the tenth date between Cruz Azul and America. The Mexican championship has the sky-blue team. Both in the MX League and in the MX e-League, the Ecuadorians who play in Toluca, Xolos de Tijuana, León, Querétaro, Cruz Azul, and Necaxa will be active.

The regular phase of the competition will be played from April 10 to June 7. There are no dates for the finals.

Esports market in Mexico

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.

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.

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.

The new gold mine

In the last two years, sales of video games for consoles and other devices grew by almost 30 percent, according to the Newzoo consulting firm. Electronic sports or eSports have become so important in Mexico that they now generate profits in the country of around 1.8 billion dollars a year.

According to Newzoo consulting firm, the Mexican market is among the 15 most important globally in profits for the eSports industry. Photo: EFE
According to Newzoo consulting firm, the Mexican market is among the 15 most important globally in profits for the eSports industry. Photo: EFE

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. The Global Games Market Report of the specialized firm says that in the last two years the revenue in the country from the sale of games in this segment, for consoles and other devices, grew almost 30 percent.

Unlike traditional video games, which also include sports-based games, eSports consist of professional online competitions with teams of dozens of players. Today, there are about 60 million users in the country engaged in this activity, and the number is growing steadily, which has been attractive to the sports industry.

In its survey on the habits of Internet users in Mexico, the Internet Association.mx points out that the number of Internet users in the country grew by almost 13 million in two years, and with them the proportion of online players. Between 2016 and 2018 (latest data from the study) online games went from 18 to 28 percent in the proportion of internet use among Mexicans.

According to the Mexican consulting firm The Competitive Intelligence Unit, 70 percent of fixed console users in the country connect to the Internet when playing games and, of these, two out of every three do so to interact with other people remotely. This growth in the eSports industry in Mexico is due to maturation in the segment that has been going on for just over two decades.

eSports are not new in Mexico. Since the end of the 1990s, several developments and distribution companies were already organizing tournaments as part of the indoor sport. However, the connectivity that exists today has massified this discipline to the extent that many young people are interested in becoming professional players or commentators of this branch.

Some people can live off esports

In The International Dota 2 tournament, one of the most popular in the sand battle genre, the prize pool grew from $1.6 million in 2011 to $34.3 million last year.

Recently, the website Techguided made a comparison of the salary of some presidents with the earnings of eSports players in their countries, which found great differences as, for example, the French player of Dota 2 7ckngMad, who in 2018 pocketed 2.2 million dollars when President Emmanuel Macron received 194,300 dollars for his duties.

Mexico has the second-highest number of eSports enthusiasts in Latin America, after Brazil and above Argentina, Colombia, and Venezuela. However, the value of this industry in the region cannot be compared with that of countries like the United States and China, because while Latin America contributed 30 million dollars to the total value of the eSports industry in 2019, the United States and Canada contributed more than 400 million dollars.

While there is no estimate of the value of the eSports market in Mexico, the potential of the video game market, in general, has been reflected in this industry. According to NewZoo, with figures to 2018, the video game industry generated $1.6 billion dollars in the country, which placed it as the 12th market worldwide, with a total of 55.8 million players, almost half of the total population.

Half of the population connected to the Internet in Mexico has accessed video content linked to video games and of these, half access content linked to eSports.

Universities and some gaming communities are leading the way in promoting the development of eSports in Mexico. From the creation of the first training center for eSports players in Mexico by the Tec de Monterrey campus Guadalajara, through the first eSports tournaments at the university level at the Universidad Anahuac, to a research project of the UNAM aimed at discovering the dynamics of electronic sports in Mexico are projects that show signs of a better development of this activity in the country. This is reinforced with the creation in 2019 of the Mexican eSports Federation (Femes), endorsed by the National Commission of Physical Culture and Sport (Conade), with which Mexican eSports players can now aspire to become recognized high-performance athletes.

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.

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.

By Mexicanist