Report indicates that the total number of esports events across the geographic regions studied have not yet fully recovered from pre-pandemic levels

Raleigh, N.C. (April 10, 2024) – A recent industry study has solidified Raleigh, North Carolina’s position as a premier destination for hosting esports events. The study was conducted by esports advisory and advocacy firm PLAYHRDR Advisors and examined the global trends in hosting major live, in-person esports tournaments in North America, Europe and the Nordic region between the years of 2019 through 2023.

This recognition comes as the overall number of esports events worldwide has not yet fully rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. The report highlights Raleigh’s continued commitment to fostering a thriving esports ecosystem, attracting major tournaments, players and spectators from around the globe.

The report’s key findings show that . . .

  • Raleigh, North Carolina, USA was consistently ranked as a TOP 5 Major Esports Event Host Destination between 2021-2023 amongst the three geographic regions studied.
  • ​Valve Software and Riot Games were the Top 2 Major Esports Event Producers amongst the three geographic regions studied.
  • ​Overall, the United States has hosted 14.5% MORE Major Esports Events than has Europe.
  • The Total Number of Major Esports Events in 2023 showed a 30% DECREASE compared to 2019, indicating that the esports event industry in the three geographic regions studied has not fully recovered from pre-pandemic levels.
  • Q1 of 2020 was trending 6% AHEAD of the total number of events compared to Q1 2019. Then the COVID-19 pandemic practically stopped events worldwide.
  • A correlation was observed between a publisher’s game title fan/player base and the geographic region(s) that the publisher hosts their events. Further research is required for a more accurate account.

"We knew Greater Raleigh (and North Carolina in general) was quickly becoming a top destination for hosting major esports and gaming events, and PLAYHRDR’s research report only confirms the economic impact data we have been measuring all along," said Loren Gold, Executive Vice President of Visit Raleigh. "By having a collaborative strategic plan, providing world-class (and esports-ready) venues, a supportive infrastructure, and a vibrant esports scene, Raleigh has positioned itself as a premier global destination for esports and gaming tournaments, festivals, professionals, players, fans and organizations from around the world.”

The esports industry is a rapidly growing giant, with a global market size exceeding $1.7 billion and projections for exponential growth in the coming years. It is not just about fun and games; esports fosters teamwork, strategic thinking, and critical decision-making, all valuable skills for future careers. Recognizing this potential, colleges and universities are increasingly offering esports scholarships, varsity programs, and dedicated facilities, creating a new avenue for academic and athletic achievement. This integration of esports into destinations, community organizations and academia legitimizes the passion of millions and creates a pipeline for future professionals in many industries.

“Major esports events support hundreds of jobs and inject millions of dollars into the economies of the countries that host them,” said Ed Tomasi, President of PLAYHRDR Advisors. “We continue to work with government, destination and academic clients to build smart strategies that are unique, achievable, measurable and sustainable.”

The full report can be downloaded for free at

About PLAYHRDR Advisors:
Founded by esports industry veteran Ed Tomasi, PLAYHRDR Advisors is a leading esports advisory firm dedicated to empowering stakeholders in the ever-evolving esports landscape. We leverage our team's deep industry knowledge, global network, and proven track record to guide clients towards success.

PLAYHRDR offers a comprehensive suite of services, including:

  • Destination Development: We help cities and regions capitalize on the booming esports market by crafting strategic plans to attract and host major esports events.
  • Venue Assessment and Readiness: We provide expert evaluation of planned or existing venues and facilities, ensuring they are equipped to meet the technical and operational demands of esports programming.
  • Collegiate Endeavors: We offer specialized guidance for universities and colleges seeking to establish or expand their esports programs, fostering a thriving and sustainable esports ecosystem within their institutions and communities.
  • Government Advocacy: We advocate for the responsible integration of esports within government regulations, fostering a supportive environment for the industry to flourish.

About the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh):
As the official destination marketing organization for Wake County, the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (Visit Raleigh), is responsible for promoting Wake County as an attractive travel destination and enhancing its public image as a dynamic place to live and work. Through the impact of travel, the organization strengthens the economic position of and provides opportunity for people throughout Wake County. Raleigh, N.C./Wake County welcomes nearly 18 million visitors annually whose spending tops $3 billion. The visitor economy supports over 24,500 local jobs in Wake County and generates $287 million in state and local tax revenues, saving each Wake County household $601 in taxes annually.

Media Contact:
Ed Tomasi, President

Visit Raleigh
Dana Canby, Public Relations and International Tourism Manager

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