Ralf Reichert: Esports will dominate world entertainment industry

Ralf Reichert believes Esports will dominate the world sports industry in the years to come. Boris Streubel/Getty Images for Laureus

Electronic Sports League (ESL) boss, Ralf Reichert, says esports is going to be 'the most normal thing on the planet' in five years' time.

The CEO claims that this is just the beginning of the road for the esports industry and insists that in just a few years' time gaming will be the biggest form of entertainment in the world.

"I'm 100 percent convinced that gaming is going to be the largest entertainment industry in the world, it's already rivalling some sports and soon it will rival the biggest ones," Reichert told ESPN.

"This type of entertainment is going to dominate the world. It's going to be the most normal thing on the planet and part of society in a very deep way. There will be more events, more venues, more prize money, more fans and more excitement as well -- this is going to be the new normal.

"If you look back 20 years, esports and gaming was looked down upon, but nowadays the Team Liquid's of the world are superstars. That whole understanding is from a society perspective and to recognise these as sports stars, without looking at them in a negative way. These big stadium events help to change perceptions like that.

"But this has been the same with any other sport -- if you look back 40/50 years at football it grew to begin with as a participatory sport, and then as a spectator sport.

"When you feel the atmosphere inside the stadium you feel proud as gamers at how far gaming has come and also excited. But we're still in very very early stages and relatively speaking everything we're talking about now is still so small."

And Dota 2 game caster, Kevin "Purge" Godec agrees: "In the future, everybody will have a sibling or a parent or a friend who plays video games as a hobby.

"Esports is a thing that people should embrace, it's not a childish thing, it's just a hobby -- a way that people like to spend their free time or express their creative outlets or competitiveness just like with any other hobby."

The esports industry and people who work within it have received criticism from people claiming that gaming cannot be classified as 'sport' and indeed the players cannot be labelled 'sports stars'. But for Purge, such an argument is irrelevant.

"Whether or not it's an actual sport is a stupid argument," Purge told ESPN.

"Negative connotations around esports are often out of ignorance. People who say 'what is this?' and 'that's not a sport' is a stupid reaction and they're focusing on the wrong part of esports. Obviously it's a competition; I don't care whether that's a game or a sport, that's irrelevant."

As well as the continued rise in participation and global interest, Purge says that the landscape of gaming could change dramatically in the future, too.

"Considering that video games are semi-playable on your phones now, it's only going to get more and more extreme. In 60 years we're probably going to be playing video games on our phones with a virtual reality chip in our heads and everyone will play -- that will just be our world in the future."