In case you missed it: E-sports has arrived. Over the last decade, competitive video gaming has transformed from a closet industry into one of the largest sports in the world. Today more people watch e-sports tournaments than Major League Baseball. There is even talk of including competitive gaming in the Olympics as soon as 2024.

But for all its rising popularity, e-sports has curiously lagged in Japan. Of the top 100 highest earning pros, none are Japanese. (By way of comparison: nine are South Korean and 33 are Chinese). Japan has never won a significant championship in the last decade, an honor even countries like Greece and Egypt can claim.

Why should the country that practically invented video games fail so badly at professional competition? The answer is something I have coined "Super Mario Syndrome." Simply put, the early success of video games in Japan simultaneously created market conditions that smothered e-sports.