Esports is a form of competitive video gaming that takes place electronically, but it also encompasses live streaming, tournaments and competitions, and local area network (LAN) events.

This form of competitive gaming is experienced the same way sports fans watch professional sports like basketball or football — with people watching competitions in stadiums, movie theatres, and from their own homes. 

In Canada, there’s one team that rises above the rest in Esports: SetToDestroyX. They formed in 2010 and have been rapidly growing since their debut as a professional team at a LAN event in 2013, where they played Call of Duty.

“From there it just grew,” says Charlie Watson, the 34-year-old CEO of SetToDestroyX. “We expanded into other markets and other titles. We went from Xbox to Sony, to PC gaming, to Nintendo, to Wii U and mobile gaming.”

Since then, SetToDestroyX has competed in massive tournaments worldwide, including the CrossFire World Championship, the Brawlhalla World Championship, the Madden Classic Major, DreamHack Sweden H1Z1 Elite Series, the H1Z1 New Pro League, and more – all with prizes in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes up to a million. They’re also aiming to secure a top 3 global-qualified Quake Champions team for DreamHack Denver and DreamHack Sweden.

In the past year, SetToDestroyX has seen their brand, competitive portfolio, merchandise, content development, and network soar beyond their set goals. They’re now Canada’s largest and oldest Esports team, with over 50 personalities and Twitch partners.

With 8 years of gaming industry experience and 15 years of business management expertise in diverse markets, it’s clear to see how Watson was able to bring SetToDestroyX to the front of the finish lines in Esports.

“I got into gaming the same way most people did. We all wanted to have fun or escape from reality, and I just had a big passion for it,” says Watson. “I was with a group and I didn’t like how they were playing and leading, and I felt I could do a better job. So I created SetToDestroyX, and it adapted and evolved from casual gaming.”

According to a global Esports market report done by Newzoo, the coming year will see the Esports economy grow to $696 million. By 2020, the expected total revenue is nearly $1.5 billion, with sponsorships estimated to grow to $655 million and advertising to $224 million.

The data also shows that Esports’ audience is now so large that it’s comparable to traditional sports. Hockey is watched by 18 percent of 21- to 35-year-olds, while Esports is watched by 14 percent. This year, the global audience will reach 385.5 million, and by 2020, that number is projected to grow by another 50 percent.

“The numbers are staggering. We’re seeing higher viewership for LAN events than for NHL finals or a world series,” says Watson, who calls Esports the forefront of entertainment. “It wouldn’t surprise me if it starts getting up to NFL Super Bowl ratings in a few years.”

“It’s absolutely overpowering anything in the marketplace right now,” says Watson. According to him, the longer a company waits to get involved in Esports, the more they’ll have to pay, even within just six months. “If you’re not talking or thinking about Esports right now, you may get left behind.”