Scandinavia, a region including Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, is well-known for Vikings, social welfare, being one of the happiest regions in the world. It also happens to be a region of esports giants.
From the early days of the esports scene, all three countries set up a domination in almost every popular game of the world despite their relatively small population. Scandinavian countries dominated Quake Champion — a game kicking off the pro scene of the Esport world — with an overwhelming number of pro players, and Counter Strike 1.6 witnessed an unbeatable “Swedish empire” with outstanding top players like Patrick “f0rest” Lindberg, Tommy “Potti” Ingemarsson.
In the 21st century, League of Legends (LoL), DOTA 2, Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and Rainbow Six Siege (R6) have become the most widely-played games in the Esports industry. According to Riot, LoL’s developing company, Denmark and Sweden produces a ridiculous number of Pro players. “Denmark has produced more professional LoL players than any European country” the company says, followed by Sweden. “For the past 3 years, every single LCS final in North America and Europe features at least 1 Dane”. In particular, the most recent champion of Mid Season Invitational (MSI), the first place tournament champion team contains 2 Danes and 1 Swedes.
In CS:GO, Danish team Astralis has been savagely establishing a undominable force since 2015. Back in 2012-2015, Swedish CS:GO’s pro scene reached its peak with a super Swedish team “Fnatic” made up with Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer, Robin “flusha” Rönnquist, Freddy “KRIMZ” Johansson, Jesper “JW” Wecksell, and Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund. These players are all in top 20 players of the world, as rated by HLTV, one of the most prestigious CS:GO websites. There was a time any opponent of Fnatic was virtually guaranteed a loss. Fnatic continued to dominate the CS:GO pro scene until Astralis overthrew them.
The glorious achievements that esport industry of Scandinavian countries have got are undeniable. But how did the region obtain these achievements?
Scandinavia is one of the earliest regions in the world to provide Internet access to the internet to the majority of its population. During the 90s, their governments already began to build IT infrastructure instead of relying on private companies like other European countries, making the internet more accessible than anywhere else in the world. Providing early access to the internet played a crucial role in the rise of gaming culture, as it gave everyone earlier access to esports and helped them establish an early esport community. This headstart in a competitive environment gave a lot of opportunities to those who would later become legends and “role models” for the next generation. Moreover, the early development of the technical infrastructure also helped teams be more competitive since having high-quality Internet service was an advantage. A win or loss could be decided within a second. According to Worldwide Broadband Speed League 2018, Denmark, Sweden, Norway rank respectively 2nd, 3rd, 4th in terms of Internet speed.
Great support from government and media.
The development of the professional esports scene also lessened the stigma associated with gaming arising host of social issues including gaming addiction. But the quick development of the esports culture in Scandinavian societies, where it has grown as big as conventional sports, has lead to greater acceptance. Parents have become more willing to consider that gaming might be a viable career choice for some of their children, albeit an unlikely one, much like other professional sports. Professional esport players are no longer considered to be addicts, who spend all the playing worthless video games. Instead, they are now real sport players, who are just like every physical sports player, devote themselves into the game to prove their talents.
Current Danish Prime Minister, Lars Loekke Rasmussen, once visited the headquarters of Astralis, a Danish esport organization, to express his admiration and honour them for what they have demonstrated on the global stage. He even played a couple of rounds of CS:GO with them. “Gaming is a reality of life,” said Rasmussen. “Youngsters like to game and this is a big business as well. This is about job creation—innovative, modern, job creation—and it is about proving that [esports] is a true sport.”
Danish teams and players have appeared multiple times in Danish media, and Sweden, has a channel known as Sveriges Television has been broadcasting Starcraft 2 and CS:GO since 2013.
According to Esports Insider, the Danish government will create an esports panel that ensures the integrity of Esports and a way to combat cheating along with other illegal operations. Earlier in April, Danish gambling authority Spillemyndigheden successfully blocked 25 gaming and skin gambling websites.
One more reason that should be considered is that Scanadivians have supreme world-class social welfare. Scanadivian education is for the most part is free from pre-school to post-secondary. In fact, free education is implemented in all three Scandinavian countries, and any Nordic native students can have free higher education in any Scandinavian university. Free education grants students more freedom to explore any careers and options that they can think of, including gaming to see what they’re truly good at without any financial anxiety unlike the U.S, where higher-education can lead to debts up to hundreds of thousands, and take years to pay back. According to Business Insider, it’s common in Denmark for people to take 5 or 6 years in college without planning to graduate as many of them keep switching major over a year, even a semester.
Having such a supportive system creates a sense of security for professional players, because they know they will certainly be backed up by the Scandinavian society should they fail to accomplish the highest level on the global stage. In short, Scandinavian countries make a career in Esport risk-free, encouraging Scandinavians to pursue their dreams and reach their greatest potential.
In years to come, Esport may become globally as big as physical sports. The Scandinavian esport empire may stay or fall. Regardless of what will happen, Scandinavian countries certainly have played a crucial part in the field and and are the “role models” for every other country.
Image: Flickr/Lyconnf Games