“Gamer”, “nerd” – ten-fifteen years ago, being labeled like that meant something entirely different than it does today. Weekend-long LAN parties baffled friends and family alike, but that didn’t stop us from gaming through night and day, especially during school holidays. Partying or playing soccer? No, thanks – Warcraft, Counter-Strike, Age of Empires, and many more, those were the games on our minds 24/7. Some of them have endured the test of time and are still around, oftentimes as remakes with new and better graphics (AoE 2 HD or CS:GO come to mind).
The temptation already back then was the competition with friends and, when ESL started in 2000, many of us thought about going pro and turning our passion into a professional career. For most, this plan didn’t work out, since making money or gaining a foothold in the ESL was much more difficult than expected. Today, 17 years later, gaming has become an event sport. Online tournaments nowadays regularly turn into offline events, filling stadiums all over the globe (no, this isn’t limited to Asian countries anymore) with fans, who root for their teams and can’t wait for the next 5 vs 1 duel on Inferno, after the rest of the team has been obliterated.
eSports is on the rise…
The eSports community is steadily growing and, thanks to the easy access, people from all countries come together and enjoy challenging each other. The competition between players takes various forms; from first person shooters like Counter-Strike to sports classics like FIFA, where players directly face each other, to MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, where guilds race for who manages to finish a new raid first. And for those who think eSport is not a real sport; look up your favorite soccer club and see if they haven’t already started an eSport division. You’ll be surprised to see how most sports clubs have already realized the importance of having a digital team – for instance, Schalke 04 with FIFA, the FC Kopenhagen with CS:GO, or Besiktas Istanbul with LoL; they have all started their own digital divisions.
…and attracts pros as well as newcomers
But there is more than just the classic eSports scene. You can find smaller projects like Walkthroughs and Let’s Plays, where often a single gamer shows a whole game or highlights aspects of different games. This comes in handy especially if you are undecided about a game – just find a YouTuber who does Let’s Plays or Walkthroughs, watch a few videos, and see if it’s something for you. Besides free advice about the game, you’ll also be entertained by the gamer – gone are the days when you had to buy computer magazines and tediously dig through reviews. Instead, look over the gamer’s shoulder and get an immediate gaming experience right there and then. To help you get a head start, we have handpicked three popular European YouTubers; give them a shot!
He is probably one of the best-known gaming influencers in Germany – Gronkh, alias Erik Range. He became famous with hundreds of Let’s Play episodes about Minecraft and still uploads more, one long-standing series being “Life in the Woods”, which has reached almost 500 episodes. Despite being in the scene for so long, Gronkh is extremely popular, uploads new content daily, and is still in high demand at fairs like the Gamescom. He is also famous for his voice that is often compared to one of a fairytale storyteller, because it is so soothing and creates a laid-back atmosphere. Lately, Gronkh has also done charity events with other popular German YouTubers like Pietsmiet, FishC0p, and others, collecting 300.00 Euro at the event Friendly Fire 2 last year.
Kwebbelkop, or Jordi Maxim van den Bussche, is a 22-year-old Dutch YouTuber, who became known for his series about Grand Theft Auto 5. Like Gronkh, he gained first real recognition with Minecraft (and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2) and gathered 10.000 followers until June 2013. In September 2013, he switched to almost exclusively playing GTA 5 and that might have been one of the best decisions of his YouTube career. With almost 7 million followers – he calls them his “KOPS” – on only this one channel, he is still wildly successful; especially his GTA 5 Funny Moments series regularly attracts between 300.000 and 800.000 views. While GTA 5 is his flagship, he has branched out to other, lesser-known games, such as Friday the 13th The Game, which secures him similar view counts, proving that in the future he might be able to diversify his content even more.
Ali-A / Matroix
In 2015, Ali-A, or Alastair Aiken, received the Guinness World Record certificates for ‘Most popular Call of Duty Channel by Views’ and ‘Most popular Call of Duty Channel by Subscribers’. With that, the 23-year-old British YouTuber can rightly call himself the king of Call of Duty gaming. He uploads a video of him playing CoD on various consoles – like PlayStation 4 or Xbox One – at least once a day. The likeable gamer pays attention to good video quality as well as content, as he likes to comment on his playstyle and goes into detailed analyses of the various weapons he uses. While Call of Duty is his main content, you will find him playing other niche games from time to time – but always with the same passion and enthusiasm.
*numbers current at the time of writing