Esports Around The World is a series of profiles outlining the esports ecosystem in various countries globally. The series ties into ESI’s international esports business events, which take place around the world.
The esports commercial market in the US is the second largest in the world, behind China, however the country leads when it comes to industry investment. Home to many popular personalities, organisations, tournaments and developers — the United States has integrated its long industrial history in sport, entertainment, and broadcasting into the global esports industry, creating world-class spectacles and brands.
This push dawned from the formative, grassroots competitive video gaming tournaments of the 90s, through the birth of Major League Gaming (MLG) in the early 2000s, through the multi-faceted commercial franchise models, infrastructure companies, agencies, and other players of today.
Owing to its market size, rich and highly developed economy, formative and dominant role in the tech industry, and its resultantly high esports penetration, US-based esports organisations field leading teams across most major esports.
US esports organisations top lists of of the world’s most valuable esports teams, though an economic shift and a downturn in investor interest in esports starting in 2022 has seen multiple major US-based organisations struggle and fold.
The United States is a massive market, and there have been pushes towards creating esports hubs around the US, driven by both public and private actors. Notably, the Activision-Blizzard owned Overwatch League (OWL) and Call of Duty League (CDL) are geo-located esports franchises largely focused on the US, akin to the typical US franchised sports model of teams representing a city or state.
As one of the most important markets in all of esports, the US can serve as an example of the potential of esports adoption. However, its outlier potential should be kept in mind when comparing to other countries and market sizes.
The United States officially recognised esports in 2013. That brought with it the official qualification of professional esports competitors as athletes entitled to apply for the country’s temporary worker P1A visa. The visa was created to facilitate those who seek to come to the United States solely for the purpose of performing at a specific athletic competition.
Riot Games was instrumental in the US’ esports recognition. Nick Allen, former Esports Manager at Riot, discussed the process in a 2013 interview with Gamespot.
The US military has also been active in esports. The US Air Force has partnered with both tournaments organisers and teams in the past, and North American esports organisation Complexity has had a partnership deal with the US Army since 2019.
Notable Tournaments & Leagues
With a massive esports audience and an even bigger commercial structure underpinning that audience, a number of notable tournaments and leagues call the US home. This includes domestic-oriented tournaments, North American portions of wider international leagues, as well as finals of international tournament circuits.
Notable Esports Organisations
Note that this is a non-exhaustive list and exclusion does not signify an org is not notable.
|NYXL (New York Subliners, New York Excelsior, NSYL Mayhem)||Misfits Gaming Group (Misfits, Florida Mutineers, Florida Mayhem)|
|Atlanta Esports Ventures (Atlanta Reign, Atlanta FaZe)||Moist Esports|
|beastcoast||NRG Esports (San Fransisco Shock)|
Oxygen Esports (Boston Breach)
|Complexity Gaming||OpTic Gaming (OpTic Texas)|
|Comcast Spectacor (T1, Philidelphia Fusion)||Pittsburgh Knights|
|FaZe Clan (Atlanta FaZe)||Spacestation Gaming|
|Golden Guardians||Version1 (Minnesota RØKKR)|
|Immortals (MIBR, Los Angeles Valiant)||XSET|
National Associations / Federations
Note that inclusion in this list does not suggest any acknowledgement from ESI of its authority, works or official capacity.
Due to its strong tradition in collegiate sports, the US is home to arguably the most substantive collegiate esports infrastructure of any country.
A host of colleges and universities offer esports degrees in the US, many focusing on Esports Management or Business.
Collegiate competition is also massive in the US. Several platforms, such as Generation Esports and PlayVS, offer high school-level scholastic esports competitions, and many more offer collegiate-level competitions, such as the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE) and CECC.
Hundreds of schools are part of the National Association of Collegiate Esports (NACE), offering varsity-level esports programmes and scholarships. Many of those offer substantial scholarships to students.
Additionally, the Network of Academic and Scholastic Esports Federations, which says it has over 3000 member schools across the US, offers an approved K-12 high school curriculum and runs tournaments for members.
This is a preliminary country profile and will be augmented with additional information over time. If you have any suggestions or feedback for this profile, please get in touch at [email protected].
First published: March 2022. Last updated: April 18th 2023.