Best Of 2020

Best Emerging Sport to Hit the Cincy Scene: Esports

In the last year, Cincinnati has edged into the fast-growing market of electronic sports, aka esports. According to Forbes, its global revenue exceeded $1 billion in 2019 with audiences surpassing 443 million. That’s more viewership than IRL American football and rugby combined. A glance at the Queen City’s local esports scene reflects this development. Here are a few highlights: In late 2018, FC Cincinnati signed Cincinnati-native Gordon “Fiddle” Thornsberry in FIFA — a soccer simulation game created by EA Sports — to compete for them as part of the eMLS. Last year also marked their first season not only competing in the MLS but also the virtual arena, too, and in January, Thornsberry took home FCC’s first eMLS title. The inaugural PiviP esports tournament and gaming conference also arrived in the Queen City in 2019. Held at Kings Island, it was the first event of its kind locally and was co-founded by Bill Donabedian (founder of the Bunbury Music Festival, MidPoint Music Festival and Bellwether Music Festival) and Cincy-based esports event organizer AllMid. Newport’s GameWorks unveiled a new fully stocked esports lounge in March 2019 to provide space for more tournaments and events while competitive teams have sprouted locally on both a collegiate and high school level. As stated in Forbes, audiences for such entertainment are predicted to number 645 million in 2020. The esports arena, it seems, is only getting bigger. Let’s see if Cincy can keep up.