This week the ‘eSports IQ by Alex Fletcher‘ features the following content: The potential of gaming as mainstream; Gender basics go missing; Chaos Reigns in the Challenger Series.

eSports for all

The recent victory by hip hop artist, Lupe Fiasco, over the world’s best Street Fighter video game player, Daigo Umehara, is not only a great story, but also provides key insight into the potential of gaming as mainstream.

While large tournaments generate eye-catching prize pools and audience sizes, the relatability of video game competitions provide a great backdrop for unique pop culture moments. One versus one (1v1) games like Street Fighter 5, with easy to follow action, are perfectly suited to the brand of fun, intriguing match-ups capable of attracting broad viewership.

Plus, the combination of entertainment, competition and celebrity will prove incredibly value across major media outlets. In the case of Lupe’s victory over Daigo, the content isn’t just engaging for Street Fighter enthusiasts, but is also relevant across a number of other cross segments. Essentially, no other major competitive genre can generate the sheer unpredictability of an amateur celebrity player defeating a top pro.

This type of matchup, within other domains, so underscore the massive gap between amateur and pro, that they’re basically pointless. Capturing the potential for these, and countless other, “in case you missed it” (ICYMI) moments will help carve a space for eSports within conventional entertainment menus.

Gender basics go missing

As a growing force in global entertainment, eSports is on the precipice of a sustained mainstream penetration. At the forefront of this breakthrough is live streaming, the broadcast medium for top players and personalities. A profile of Hafu Chan, a leading face in the competitive Hearthstone community, reveals the inherent challenges of female streamers.

Even if all streamers are not eSports professionals, and vice versa, the two domains feature enough overlap for the points made by the author, to stand. Unfortunately, the vitriol hurled at streamers like Miss Chan is endemic of the unwelcoming environment for women in competitive gaming; an unfortunate blight which is preventing explosive growth, specifically among female participants, viewers and supporters.

The prospect of a truly gender-neutral competitive scene, especially at the professional level, is a huge edge for eSports. Yet, instead of embracing gender diversity, a vocal minority is creating toxic environments which hamstring the progress of the entire medium.

Regrettably, this toxicity exists outside the gender spectrum, finding a home in online settings with high levels of anonymity and low levels of accountability. In that light, more support networks for women should be established; not only as good moral practice but to ensure better prospects for commercial growth. At the end of t, better gender ratios are good for business.

Chaos Reigns in the Challenger Series

News that one of the top teams in Riot Games’ League of Legends European Challenger Series is teetering on collapse, due to financial problems, almost comes as no surprise; especially on the heels of a lawsuit against former Turing Pharmaceutical CEO Martin Shkreli, involving another pair of challenger teams. More than just a direct bridge into the League Championship Series (LCS), the oft maligned Challenger Series (CS) is also a key talent building component within the Riot eSports ecosystem. Yet, as the value of LCS spots continue to rise, the CS has become a breeding ground for unscrupulous business practices as individuals eye the opportunity to compete for promotion, and the option of auctioning that spot on the open market. These instances of misappropriation, in both North America and Europe, are endemic of a potentially damaging, systemic issue.

Further insight into the situation with Team Huma, provided by Kublai “Kubz” Barlas, demonstrates inherent disorganization within a team in the running for promotion into the LCS. Obviously, Riot is not directly responsible for ensuring that teams are run competently. However, the present degree of disarray undermines the crucial element of trust. Not just in terms of players trusting team owners and vice versa, but amongst potential sponsors and investors considering a foray into the LCS. While Team Huma is not entirely representative of all CS teams, several realities reflect negatively on the scene as a whole, including:

Lackadaisical oversight

While poaching is banned, there are few guidelines surrounding the purchase of player contracts.

No independent resolution process for players

In the absence of formal player organization or a union, player’s rights are essentially non-existent.

Lack of controls on ownership

Huma is “owned” by Behdad Jaafarian, a 22 year old with zero experience in competitive gaming.

Having had the foresight to implement structure and format for the Challenger Series (CS) leaves Riot in a complicated situation. By maintaining complete governance, the publisher is complicit in the numerous flaws of the system itself. Even with an influx of venture capital money into League of Legends eSports and notable brands (see: Coke Zero) already on board as a Challenger series sponsor, structural gaps in Riot’s eSports ecosystem are a significant caution flag for sustained investment and sponsorship. Since looking past the massive viewership numbers and popularity, reveals that competitive League of Legends play, even at the professional level, resembles a playground as much as a stable product.

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About ‘eSports IQ’

The ‘eSports IQ’ is compiled by Alex Fletcher, the founder and president of Entiva Group, LLC, and features insights on the latest emerging trends in eSports. By curating invaluable content from a wide range of information sources you get the leading edge in the business of eSports. Increase your eSports iQ today by signing up for the eSports IQ newsletter!

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Image source:, Photographer: Helena Kristiannson