PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND – 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.