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SCANDINAVIA – THE GLOBAL HUB FOR E-SPORTS

2017-03-23

Despite fairly small numbers in terms of population and geography, Scandinavia has kept its position as a global leader within e-sports for almost two decades. Rapid growth and record breaking investments in the US, however, gives the old e-sports school a new and powerful competitor.

Since e-sports developed back in the mid-late 90’s Scandinavia has always been dominant in nearly every form of e-sports competition.

One of the very first professional and now almost mythical organisations was the late Swedish branch of the originally German organisation Schroet Kommando, SK Sweden. Their dominance in Counter-Strike was undisputed throughout the mid 00’s. Since then teams like mTw, NoA, SoA, NiP, fnatic and most recently Astralis continued that dominance in Counter-strike.

The Scandinavian presence has clearly been most predominant in CS 1.6 and the successor CS:GO, but also in the sub-branch of MOBA-games and on the consoles with the FIFA-series, the Scandinavians are clearly overrepresented taking the total numbers of citizens into account.

Why Scandinavia, one might wonder?

Rich man’s game

Although this might come as a surprise to many, we believe that the wealth of Europe and thus Scandinavia is a clear factor in our success in the game. In order to play a video game, you need a computer. In order to compete at a professional or even semi-professional level, you need a very expensive gaming-pc. The retail price for a good gaming pc starts at USD 1,000, and you can add at least USD 200 for a monitor. The computer itself, however, is not enough. To compete at a top level, you need the necessary gear, i.e. gamer-mouse, gamer-keyboard, gamer-headset, gamer-mousepad. You can easily add another USD 250. That is roughly USD 1,500 for a good, basic e-sports equipment. It goes without saying, that more expensive gear will give you an edge over your competitors exactly as is the case of cycling, golf and other analogue sports.

Unlike for instance professional golf, the computers will be outdated within 3 years on professional level, and the gear worn down even faster than that. That makes it easily a USD 500 investment per year just for equipment – and that’s before you even bought the game.

Although large groups of people all over the world can now afford such equipment, it has not always been like that. Two decades ago when it all started, the economic situation in the world was different, and it was mostly the west who could afford equipment like that.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure might, once again, not be the first thing that comes to mind when analysing the reason for success of Scandinavia. It is, however, essential. Sweden has been and probably still is world leading when it comes to internet infrastructure. Without a good broadband internet connection, it is not possible to compete against other players, and since e-sports is performed mostly from a desktop computer, it is very inconvenient to play from anywhere but home.

Unlike football or tennis, where you can simply go to anyone’s court to play and practise, this is only possible in e-sports with a good internet connection. So, when the poor children in the streets of Rio de Janeiro only needed a USD 5 football to practise, e-sports was not an alternative. Even rich children from the UK or Switzerland could not compete over the internet for several years compared to Sweden. Not because they did not have internet, but because many did not have the necessary internet.

Conservatism

The probably largest hindrances to the development of e-sports have clearly been the cyber athlete’s parents. Even the young stars of e-sports in 2017 have had difficulties convincing their parents to let them play the necessary hours. The older generation still has not fully accepted video games as a proper activity for their children and that phenomenon was only far worse a decade ago. Gaming and e-sports has always been restricted and seen as inferior to traditional activities like playing an instrument or practising a “real” sport like football, tennis, golf, swimming etc. Even in 2017 the cyber athletes often don’t get any support from their parents until they are already fully professional.

The Scandinavians have historically been less conservative, and front runners on civil liberties. Although it has been a struggle for many cyber athletes to get support and acceptance for their choice even in Scandinavia, it is likely that Scandinavian parents have moved quicker towards accepting e-sports compared to the rest of the world, and thus let their children practise for more hours – a necessity to excel at everything!

Now that e-sports is coming of age, more and more people understand that the athletes do not live of pizza and Coca-Cola, and that playing intensively for 5-6 hours requires mental as well as physical fitness and strength.

Conclusion… and a prediction

The above mentioned three factors are just some of the reasons, that Scandinavians are remarkably good at e-sports. All three criteria are met many places in the world, and thus there are many really good teams in CIS-region, SEA and the US. As especially the first two factors diminish through general wealth increase in the world, more nations will eventually catch up with Scandinavia and elsewhere in the EU. The Scandinavian countries were probably just the first to hit all three criteria.

Although other countries now meet the basic criteria for excelling in e-sports, there are not yet developed communities for the talents to practise against. The Scandinavian community is very strong, because ‘everyone’ has been playing the games for many years, and e-sports/gaming has been fully accepted among young people for almost a decade now. This means that the competition is harder and there are many more on the semi-pro level for the talents to practise against. Due to the well-developed national e-sports and gaming scenes/communities in Scandinavia, the talent-pipeline will be proportionally larger and will most likely keep the Scandinavian countries on top for many more years.

So, we predict that for some time it’s going to (continue to) be Scandinavia first!

 

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Related People: Jesper Kragh-Skriver

Related Countries: Denmark

Related Service Areas: Media, sports and entertainment

 

 

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