Canadian gamers are challenging the hegemony of the dominant Esports nations of South Korea, China, and the United States, and making fortunes in the process!
The fightback is spearheaded by Arteezy, real name Artour Babaev, the highest earning Canadian Esports player with total prize money currently around $2.5 million. He has played for the Evil Geniuses Dota 2 team since 2016 and boasts a large following on Twitch.
He is followed by Aui_2000, whose real name is Kurtis Ling, another professional Dota 2 player. As part of the Evil Geniuses team, he won the Dota 2 Asia Championships and The International 2015. He has played for a range of teams since launching his career in 2012 and has coached four different teams, the latest being Tundra in 2021. His total prize money earned is over $2 million.
Esports are experiencing a boom in Canada. The nation is ranked third in the list of the biggest producers of video games worldwide and there are over 5.7 million Esports fans in the country, making it one of the most popular forms of live online entertainment.
As other forms of entertainment such as concerts are being streamed live on the internet via websites such as Qello, this reflects a seismic shift in the industry as live online entertainment has exploded in popularity.
Another form of live online entertainment, which has undergone a transformation in recent years is the live online casino industry. The convenience of online casinos means that players can play their favorite card games from the comfort of their own homes. They no longer need to attend a physical casino, they can simply take a break and play blackjack online. New technology is creating new and innovative ways for consumers to experience live entertainment online, whether as observers or active participants.
A change in Esports demographics
According to Statista, in 2009, the percentage of female gamers in Canada was 34.9%, but by 2020, this figure had risen to 50%. With the increase in the number of female gamers, it is no surprise to see female Canadian gamers are also making names for themselves, particularly with the Commonwealth Esports Championships contributing to the participation of females in gaming.
Sasha Hostyn, better known as Scarlett, is a professional player of StarCraft II and the highest earning female gamer in the world with total prize money of $400,000. On her Twitch account, where her nickname is ScarlettM, she has almost 79,000 followers. Her skills have earned her the nickname the Queen of Blades.
Other female gamers from Canada include xChocoBars, aka Janet Rose, Stephanie “missharvey” Harvey, who specializes in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Kristen “KittyPlays”, who competes in Fortnite. Inclusion in the industry will increase in Canada with Toronto set to unveil an Esports venue later this year.
A unique approach
One Canadian gamer who has taken a different approach is Evan Fong, known as VanossGaming. His YouTube channel has 25.7 million subscribers and his videos, which include commentary on humorous aspects of video games such as Grand Theft Auto, have amassed almost 15 billion views. It is estimated that he has earned millions of dollars each year from his YouTube activities alone. He is also a highly popular music artist, performing as Rynx. In 2019, he released the single “All For You” featuring Canadian singer Kiesza. His music career has also seen him embark on live tours in Canada and the United States.
Canadian Esports players have made advances in the world of professional gaming, despite the domination of gamers from South Korea, China, and the United States. With such a rich tradition of gaming in the country, there is every chance we could see Canadian gamers continuing to make waves in Esports.