The second edition of Turkuvaz Media Group's Esports Summit was held online amid coronavirus pandemic measures on Tuesday under the theme of “Building The Future’s Sports.”
The event focuses on the emerging sport’s march toward mainstream recognition, the billion-dollar market it has created and its increasing reach throughout the world, especially in a year when the coronavirus pandemic either completely halted or severely disrupted dozens of sports. Another topic of discussion was the exponential growth of the esports market.
Experts estimate global esports revenue in Turkey has increased to TL 1 billion ($131 million) with the potential for more growth.
In an opening speech to the summit, Alper Afşin Özdemir, president of the Turkish Esports Federation (TESFED), said Turkey, through the federation, intends to build an international brand in the sector. The federation, established in 2018, has come a long way according to Özdemir, who said they have opened branches across the country and issued licenses for more than 2,200 players, including 200 women, and the number of esports facilities has reached 17 in two years. Özdemir cited the accomplishments of Turkish players in the international arena, noting that the national team took home the top title in the FIBA NBA 2K21 tournament, its greatest accomplishment to date.
“Esports is a rapidly growing field. It represents a new entertainment form and in the entertainment industry, its share is growing. The gaming/esports industry is an ecosystem worth $200 billion and it continues to expand while influencing other sectors as well. In Turkey, more than 35 million people play games, and 4.5 million among them are esports players. 56% among them are men and the rest are women. Turkey has a young population, and esports is part of their lives. More than 700,000 fans watched our last national tournament,” he said. Özdemir also highlighted Turkey’s role in game development. “We have important developers as Turkey strives to be a game production hub. We have seen good developments in that sense, like the sale of Peak Games (to U.S.-based mobile gaming giant Zynga). Turkey is also becoming a brand in the gaming sector,” he said.
Özdemir noted the rise in interest in esports among Generation Z, who prefer esports over other forms of entertainment like football or movies, which encouraged further investment in the sector. “Today, major football clubs like Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Beşiktaş invest in esports and have teams. At universities, esports clubs have been founded and local tournaments are being held,” he said.
The outbreak of COVID-19 dealt a blow to many sectors but according to Özdemir, it barely affected esports, even proving to be beneficial. “In the post-COVID era, digitalization will increase and it will undoubtedly help esports. It will be more a part of our lives,” he said. On the business side, Özdemir said esports presents many opportunities for the youth weighing career options, noting the sector requires coaches and analysts, not just full-time esports professionals.
Sponsored by computer peripheral manufacturer Logitech, the summit hosted several prominent figures from the world of esports and gaming in general to discuss the topics.
As well as Mert Tanrıverdi, the general manager of Bundesliga football club Schalke 04’s esports division and the presidents of Turkey’s leading esports teams, the summit hosted International Esports Federation General Secretary Boban Totovski.
The event also hosted Fatih “Luger” Güven, Turkey’s most successful esports player who transferred to 100 Thieves, the League of Legends team formed by NBA team the Cleveland Cavaliers.