Esports Events in Denmark - Opportunities and Challenges

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Asbjørn Dissing Bargsteen
4. term, Tourism, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis is on the topic of esports events as a driver of tourism, while also trying to classify it as event or sports tourism – or a hybrid of the two. Further, the thesis is aimed towards identifying the opportunities and challenges that might arise for the Danish esports event industry both presently, and in the future. The primary data for this inquiry were gathered through three semi-structured interviews with DMO/event agency representatives, 18 visitor interviews at a gaming convention/esports event – as well as a survey with almost 1000 responses. In combination, these different sources of data make the foundation of this thesis. The theoretical basis for the research was limited by the small amount of academic research into the topic of esports tourism. However, the practical execution of large-scale esports events have similarities to other types of tourist events, as modelled after the event portfolio approach. Therefore, a literature review of event and sport tourism theories were conducted as a theoretical basis for supporting the categorisation of esports. Some esports research has however been done on topics related to tourism, e.g. social spheres, experience economy and marketing. Which was then also brought into the theoretical basis, in order to better understand the topic. The primary findings throughout the demand-side data turned out to be the focus on the sports-like competitive aspect of esports events. Many of the visitors and survey respondents who had travelled, or were interested in travelling to esports events, primarily showed interest in one specific esports game and would therefore only travel for the one they were most invested in. Furthermore, it was shown that most esports fans would prefer events being within 500km of distance from them – which would signify that the Danish esports event industry would primarily create domestic tourism. Other identified motivations thing such as the new experience and the community. Through the supply-side interviews, esports events were categorised as a mix of several traditional event disciplines, with a new target market. Accordingly, large-scale esports events in Denmark is a relatively new offering, but one with a large international audience, if the right tournaments are brought to Denmark – e.g. the ESL Pro League Final in Odense. The primary opportunities identified were the enormous interest sphere, which were shown to be receptive to the sponsors of events, and therefore also the possibility of esports being used as place branding. Furthermore, an overlap between esports fans and possible hires for tech businesses lacking in qualified manpower in Odense, shows esports as being potential marketing and recruitment channels. The main challenges for the Danish esports event industry appears to be the lack of established stakeholders and partners with experience in esports in general, resulting in an underdeveloped industry compared to other countries. Furthermore, the qualities of large-scale esports events infers that only the largest cities in Denmark can utilise it to create sizeable tourism. Lastly, a more established esports event industry could arguably lead to niches within esports itself, which is further complicated by the rapid emergence of new esports games. Subsequently, if the identified opportunities are to be properly utilised by Danish DMOs/event agencies, further research into esports event tourism is needed, in order to meet the challenges of working with an increasingly complex and competitive esports event industry.
Publication date31 May 2018
ID: 280125223