Over the span of a few decades, Japan has been able to brag about having one of the most dynamic and diverse ecosystems in terms of digital transformation, gaming, and popular culture.
When it comes to video games, it is the industry leader, and in 2022, it was estimated that the “competitive video game market” in Japan alone was worth over $116 million. However, it is important to note that the esports sector in Japan still has a long way to go toward reaching its full potential because it has only been significantly growing since 2018.
The crowd at an amazing esports event held in Saitama Super Arena was surprisingly electrifying, which drew the attention of everyone in attendance. The Valorant Champions Tour: Japan Stage 2 Challengers Playoff took place in this arena; it was a competition of a relatively low level and had a tiny prize pool. Despite the fact that Valorant is by a wide margin the most popular esports title in Japan, something about this event attracted more than 13,000 live supporters to the venue, and the atmosphere created by these people was incredible.
It was an undeniable indication that the esports scene in Japan was on the verge of undergoing significant transformation. This is a country that has, for a considerable amount of time, favored video game titles like Street Fighter and League of Legends. It is possible that Valorant may usher in a period of profound transformation within the constraints of the Japanese esports industry.
SAITAMA WILL PARTICIPATE IN JUST ONE CHALLENGING TOURNAMENT
The Saitama Super Arena has been the location of a great number of martial arts matches over the course of more than twenty years. It has been used as a venue for competitions between players of basketball, boxing, and mixed martial arts, but from the 10th to the 26th of June, it hosted a tournament for Valorant. Eight of Japan’s most talented teams competed for a portion of the total prize fund of $14,701, which took place under the lights of the Saitama Super Arena.
At the conclusion of the show, there were over 13,000 excited fans cheering for their favorite team who had made their way inside the arena. Even though they were only using it to its half-capacity, there was still an impressive turnout. However, this crowd size was not limited to the stadium itself, as evidenced by the fact that an online platform known as Twitch recorded a peak viewership count of more than 86,000 persons checking out the gameplay at one point. This number was derived from the data of the Japanese Valorant profile, and it demonstrates even further the fast increasing popularity of Valorant among fans in Japan.
One person wrote in a comment that they made on Reddit that they could not contain their excitement over the development of this kind of video game, which includes CSGO:
As a lifelong player of Counter-Strike who currently resides in Japan, I couldn’t be happier about the popularity of this game in Japan. Now I can enjoy this kind of game without having to play on servers based in Russia or China. Cheers to the continuous expansion and leveling up of the player base in Japan, both among casual and professional players! – reddit, clevergirls
THE JAPANESE SPORTS COMMUNITY IS EXPANDING
Although there are a number of legal roadblocks in Japan that prevent the complete and quick expansion of esports, the landscape is beginning to shift. For the time being, betting on esports is prohibited in Japan, which prevents that country from participating in a significant chunk of the sector. Fighting games and multiplayer online trading card games like Shadowverse have been Japan’s primary sources of revenue for the most lucrative esports competitions for several years. In 2021, the total prize money up for grabs in the Shadowverse World Grand Prix was $2.5 million.
Could we be on the verge of witnessing a paradigm shift in Japan’s esports industry because to the undeniably rising popularity of games like Valorant (and, by association, CSGO)?
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