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Acer America
Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.

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333 West San Carlos Street
San Jose, California 95110
United States

WWW: acer.com

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June 9, 2020 |

eSports Goes Big-Time

From professional arenas to college campuses and now high schools, esports is growing, creating new opportunities to manage these specialized high-tech “”playing fields.””

IT STARTED IN PRO SPORTS ARENAS and soon spread to colleges and universities. Are high schools the next frontier—and solution provider opportunity—for esports? Tina Fisher thinks so. The executive director for vendor management at D&H Distributing says the move by high schools to create, operate, and scale venues for their esports programs has created serious demand for IT services and products, a dynamic that is “”providing numerous opportunities, many of them ongoing, for channel pros.””

According to the recent report Global Entertainment and Media Outlook, from consultant PwC, global spending on esports increased fivefold between 2014 and 2019, growing from some $194 million to $980 million. And PwC projects spending on esports to surge at a compound annual growth rate of 18.3% between 2018 and 2023 to reach almost $1.8 billion.

At the top, the esports market comprises professional organized teams that compete for cash prizes by playing popular video games such as League of Legends, Overwatch, and Dota 2, in tournaments that are often streamed via services such as YouTube and Twitch.

At many colleges, esports is now a revenue-producing varsity sport. The National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), a Kansas City, Mo.-based nonprofit association, reports that it has 200-plus university members that contribute over $16 million annually in esports scholarships.

And now the popularity of esports is surging at the high school level, where educators see them as a way to build technical skills and boost engagement among students not otherwise inclined to participate in school-sponsored activities. The High School Esports League (HSEL), another Kansas City, Mo.-based organization, promotes the acceptance of varsity-level esports in high schools, provides a gaming platform, and works with members to “”make esports available to every student.””

“”Now that more [high schools] are looking to compete face to face with other schools,”” esports is growing even more, says Julian Meloni, a former professional esports gamer and now owner of REAL Solutions Technologies, a Caldwell, N.J.-based MSP.

As a result, high schools creating specialized environments for esports “”are looking for everything from the right hardware to networks that are both secure and have the right capabilities for hosting esports competitions,”” Fisher says, creating opportunities for resellers, systems integrators, managed service providers, and other channel pros.

REAL Solutions Technologies, for example, provides high school esports programs with MSP services, including network and technical support, software management, and anti-virus.

Going forward, many schools will be seeking to alter and expand their facilities to accommodate spectators, Fisher notes, “”and they will be looking for help in transforming them into more professional A/V environments.””

Channel pros with audiovisual knowledge may be particularly well positioned. “”MSPs with knowledge of audiovisual can help rig auditoriums, set up live streams, and deal with the other technical issues the schools may face to logistically execute a match without problems,”” says Meloni.

Branching Out

Channel pros who have honed their skills in the high school, college, or professional esports arena can likely transfer those talents to other markets as well. “”You’re seeing esports cafes and bars pop up all over,”” says Fisher. “”And you’re also going to see big public venues, like Fusion Arena [a $50 million esports arena now underway in Philadelphia] coming online for esports.”” 

Adds Meloni, “”Pick any market, and it is likely in need of an esports solution, because it is such a great and inclusive channel to promote engagement within any community.”” Examples include the corporate, military, and religious markets, he continues. “”There is even talk of using esports as a motivator for good behavior within correctional facilities.””

At publication time, current state mandates are not allowing any arena sports, including esports, due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, Fisher says, “”Esports are all being conducted in a virtual or online environment through streaming sites. Due to the fact that there are no other sports to watch right now, online esports is booming and capturing the eyes of more enthusiasts, many of whom may not have been engaged before.””

Image: iStock


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