Earlier this year Twitter played host to the grand final of the League of Legends Oceanic Pro League (OPL), which saw esports heavyweights Dire Wolves and Chiefs Esports Club go head to head. One question that came to mind at the time was ‘Twitter were now streaming esports competitions in Australia?’ A reasonable response, with the answer itself pointing to the rise of competitive games like League of Legends and the unique position that Twitter finds itself as one of the leaders in online content engagement.
In the last two years alone Australian esports teams like Chiefs Esports Club, Dire Wolves, and Mindfreak have seen an exponential growth in the number of followers. Which also extends to key players and personalities. For Oliver Wilton, who also manages traditional sports on Twitter, the similarities were self-evident. “A big focus for us in sports and in esports is how can we bring that content and conversation into the same place,” Oliver tells me. “If you watch any AFL game, it unfolds on Twitter. People do kick-by-kick commentary. They talk about the big moments. They’ll tag the players who are doing it. So, you can basically watch a game unfold.”
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This live, as-it-happens, commentary extends to esports where games, events, and competitions unfold on Twitter. What separates esports though, from say traditional sports, is how un-connected they are to traditional forms of media, from radio and television through to how sponsorships are structured. “It’s such a young industry that it hasn’t got heritage and deep-rooted rights deals or sponsorship deals or anything like that,” Oliver explains. “Which can make traditional sports move a little bit slower. Esports, one the other hand, are evolving rapidly. So, what we’ve noticed working with our gaming and esports publishers is that they move very quickly on good ideas. They’ve got great tech, and there’s a clear focus on the consumer. It’s that fan experience that is absolute paramount.”