What makes Denmark such an esports powerhouse?

Albert Sheng • August 28, 03:16

In recent years, the esports movement has attracted both an enormous number of spectators and created an industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Esports is a massive global trend and receives tens of millions of online views, matching traditional sports in some metrics. So why has esports attained this kind of success? And why is Denmark at the forefront of this movement?

The primary motivation and analysis

While all forms of sport have always attracted fans for their entertainment value, modern esports fit into a unique space. One of the main attractions of esports is the possibility of becoming a professional player or just improving your own skills in your favorite game.

The young audience and the unique nature of the fandom, it has attracted a unique cross-section of sponsors and stakeholders. This ranges from luxury car manufacturers to energy drinks to online betting institutions like CasinoOnline.dk, which collects data about the most popular games at the moment, the best deals on different sites, and more.

How are esports played?

Esports competitions are played using games from a wide variety of genres including sports, first person shooters, MOBAs, arena shooters, and more. The most notable titles include Dota 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, FIFA, Gears of War, Call of Duty, League of Legends and Unreal Tournament. Each has its own characteristics and unique features.

Traditionally, the gaming platform used in competition is the PC. Consoles, including PS4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch, are used for certain games. Many genres suffer when played on a controller instead of a mouse and keyboard, which is a big part of why the PC is the standard platform.

Recent numbers accrued by top esports events are impressive. In the top 10 global trends compiled by Nielsen, esports are ranked seventh. For example, a top traditional sports game, such as game seven of the 2020 NBA Finals, was watched by 31 million viewers. This was “beaten” by the 36 million viewers who logged in to view the 2019 League of Legends World Championship finals held in Berlin.

In monetary terms, esports have grown exponentially. They were worth $194 million in 2014 and grew to $463 million in 2016. Estimates claim that the industry as a whole is now worth over $1 billion.

The Denmark case: a country strategy for esports

As far-fetched as this sounds, Denmark was the first country to introduce national framework to nurture esports. Denmark’s Prime Minister claims esports represent a huge opportunity for sporting and economic development for the country and as such, the country is investing in supporting this sector and has organized it under five key points:

  • Build a complete and sustainable structure to develop and support esports
  • Invest in developing the talent of national players through state support at a personal and associative level
  • Organize a shared vision around ethics and gender equality
  • Create investment vehicles to nurture the development of the business aspect of the world of esports
  • Focus on the creation of laws to support the development of esports

There is no doubt that the strategy has a solid foundation. As of 2019, 410 pro-level esports players were active in Denmark, a considerable number, considering that Denmark’s population is 5.8m people.

International player rankings and team rankings show that Denmark is a force in almost every major esport. Johan “n0tail” Sundstein is Dota 2’s highest-earning player, Astralis is Counter-Strike’s most successful team, and the list goes on. 

A great technical infrastructure

While the national movement to support esports is important, part of its success comes from the technical infrastructure already present in the country. 

The first 5G network over the 3.5GHz spectrum was offered in Denmark in mid-2020 by TDC NET in cooperation with Ericsson. It is estimated that today, with the intervention of other operators such as Telia and Telenor, 5G is available to almost 90% of the local population. This support is crucial to the development of data-intensive applications like esports, as data throughput is increasing by 40% every year.

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