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Esports Dreams – From Virtual to Reality

2018 was an utterly busy yet eventful year for Elisa Viihde, a leading media-streaming service of Finnish operator Elisa. From back-end curating top-picks for local audience, Elisa Viihde stepped out from the studio and ventured to the gaming arena. These all began in 2017.

As a Development Manager of Elisa Viihde, with an extensive background in B2C, 36-year-old Teemu Koski’s day-to-day job is to build and maintain partnerships for the platform to cater audience’s enjoyment. Understanding customers’ needs and preference is part of his routine, just like drinking coffee. Two years ago, seeing the growing mismatch of interest in esports and absence of gaming infrastructure, he decided to take actions. A gamer himself, Koski combined his commitment to deliver top-notch programs with genuine interests in gaming, led Elisa Viihde to lay the groundwork for local esports through the power of media. Starting from tournament streaming, Elisa Viihde has taken an active role and become a gaming tournament organizer as well. “I had never imagined working as an event organizer!” laughs Koski.

Despite having talented gamers, Finnish esports scene was always lagging behind her Nordic neighbors due to the fact that esports was not taken seriously from the general public, which also hindered growth and corporate support. Intrigued by the competitiveness of games, Koski has been a gamer since he was young, thus understands the culture inside out. He believes, esports should be cultivated as a collective, just like how the esports community is. Moreover, brands can drive culture forward. 2017 was also the year when OnePlus got set up in Finland. Gamers at heart, these
two brands instantly clicked and have gone down the track together. The timing was right.

Esports is much more than mere entertainment and competitive gaming for individuals. It is a social activity where people interact with each other, share joy and exchange opinions across borders, online and offline. Besides the appeal of the game itself, the social aspect of esports is the key factor that keeps numerous gamers engaged. It is a big community.

In two years’ time, the breakthrough of Finnish esports is creating a new page in history. Back in 2017, international organizations, leagues and gaming events were not yet established in Finland. Fast-forwarding to today, there is ENCE, an uprising esports team, and Arctic Invitational, an upcoming world-class game tournament taking place first time ever in this Nordic country. The popular esports phenomenon has been taking roots and become young people’s favorite sport.

These local activations do not only enable youngsters to shine, but also shatter the traditional stigma of gaming bits by bits. According to Elisa Viihde, local viewership has had a significant leap since 2017, particularly for females, which comprises more than 30% of audience. In addition to this, esports is getting more diverse behind the scene. From 4 to 18
persons, the production team of Elisa Vihde has grown along with the esports culture, with 30% of the current team members are talented female producers. All this dedication in play is a shared effort to foster the development of Finnish esports ecosystem, which eventually will offer more real-life examples for youngsters to look up to. In the gaming community, everyone is welcome.

The progress of Finnish esports scene has been huge, yet there is always room for improvement, From laying the groundwork in 2017 to actions taken in 2018, Elisa Viihde has been teaming up with local driving forces to promote the local esports scene. Koski emphasized the importance of respecting the existing gaming culture simply because the essence of gaming is communal. Finnish esports promotion is always a joint force collaboration. The next step for Elisa Viihde would be bringing Finland to the international stage.

On top of amplifying local esports happenings, Elisa Viihde is putting spotlights on mobile esports together with OnePlus. Mobile esports may be an unfamiliar concept for many since mobile esports is still in its early stage. In a period of decade, smartphones have broadened the gaming sphere by giving users the freedom and flexibility to play. The number of mobile gamers has already outnumbered PC and console counterparts and will continue to grow significantly. Through the advancement of 5G, technology will reach a brandnew level of discovery and bring tremendous opportunities to all industries, including gaming. For game developers, the potential has not yet been fully untapped. New lineups of innovation will be exciting.

With a growing pool of talents, topclass telecommunication network, devices and cloud services, the future of Finnish esports is bright.

“So many things are happening right now, which we did not previously consider as possible. And these are real!” Koski says.

This is only the beginning.

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