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How Esports Can Learn From Traditional Sports in Growing its Ecosystem
Esports is in a very unique and strong position of being the next big inclusion into the diverse world of competitive sports, following its debut at the 2018 Asian Games, as well as its inclusion in the 2019 SEA Games. While the scene appears to be on a steady course for greatness,  the realms of Esports still have numerous aspects to improve on. This is especially in the southeast Asian region which shows the greatest potential for growth.
 
The best way forward has always been learning from the past. For Esports, there’s no better reference than the tried and tested methods of its more traditional brethren. But how can it learn from the likes of football, basketball and the NFL, especially when its contests take place on digital arenas rather than on actual fields?  
 
Today, we identify several areas where Esports can benefit and learn from traditional sports when it comes to growing its ecosystem.
 
Player-Scouting And Youth Development
 
Unlike field sports, which requires first-hand witnesses to scout prospects, Esports scouts have the advantage of not having to be physically present to assess the performances of high potential Esports athletes. The availability of streaming services coupled with countless statistics tracking software makes the process of evaluating and discovering new talent more accessible in this day and age.
 
Even the “moneyball” approach which many sports teams have adapted can be implemented to Esports, as teams scour for that one perfect player to fit specific squad roles. This step is even more essential for up and coming teams, as talent doesn’t come cheap. Without proper scouting and people to identify their raw skill, world beaters like Faker and Shroud would not have been discovered.
 
Great scouting and youth development are essential in forming the next world-beating team - don’t believe us? Just look at Sir Alex Ferguson and his Class of 92 which was built around a core of six Manchester United academy talent.
 
Talent Management And Career Prospects
 
As opposed to traditional sports whose athletes peak between their mid-twenties to mid-thirties, pro-Esports athletes really hit their stride around their late teens, and in most cases, reach retirement phase circa the age of twenty-five. Former players then either resort to resume their normal life outside of competitive gaming, or for a select few, delve into other areas of gaming such as video game streaming, or management. Sadly, these decisions are mostly due to necessity, rather than choice.
 
A cohesive effort should be introduced to ensure former pros remain relevant once their playing days are over. Their skill and experience gathered throughout the years are invaluable and should be capitalised in developing a new breed of players.
 
Federations and team owners should take responsibility of ensuring members of their organisation are well equipped on and off-screen - a long term approach which in turn would make Esports an even more appealing career choice to the masses.
 

 
Most professional sports teams ensure players signed to their club are equipped for the world beyond their playing days. Proper support systems have been introduced to maintain physical and mental health and if the players so choose to, can delve into various aspects of the industry be it coaching, management and even broadcast.
 
This step is even more crucial for Esports, as former players tend to be young adults who could use all the help they can get in developing themselves. Most pro-level Esports athletes compete during their formative years when a bulk of their non-gaming peers are focusing on academia. If not handled correctly, Esports athletes may end up playing catch up once their pro career ends so the welfare and care for these athletes should carry on beyond playing.
 
Emphasis in Creating World Class Athletes Ahead of Hosting Tourneys
 
While it is always great to have world-class tournaments pop up near you from time to time, it will not mean much if the scene in the host country remains stagnant. We’ve seen this happen countless times in football and motorsport, so let it be known that successful hosting does not guarantee rapid development of whatever sport involved.
 
Instead of focusing on the next big Esports event, interested parties would be better off channelling the funds to grassroots development. Esports, like any other sports, survive not from politicking in the background: it thrives from a burgeoning and active community. Ask any sports fan out there and rest assured, that they would pick the opportunity of being a pro player ahead of the certainty of watching other pros play.
 
While we aren’t discouraging interested parties from organising and hosting such events, priority should always be given to the community which plays a crucial role in being the foundation of any thriving sporting ecosystem.