Electronic sports (esports) experts considered 2018 a landmark year that cemented the space's potential as the next billion-dollar industry.
Research firms like Statista estimate that global revenues for the wildly popular, still nascent sector may even surpass that milestone this year — particularly because of the number of companies and investors getting in on the esports market. Estimates from Newzoo project that the global esports market will exceed $1.6 billion by 2021.
"When I look at 2018, I feel like it was the year that esports really started cracking into the mainstream," Jack Etienne, owner of North American esports team Cloud9, told CNBC recently—. "To me it feels like we've broken a barrier that we've never attained before in esports."
Like other industry participants, Etienne believes the past year also laid down catalysts that will drive esports' development going into 2019. This is particularly true in some key areas that he thinks are essential to building a more sustainable ecosystem for the industry.