The world of competitive, organized gaming is growing fast — and new establishments are beginning to open up to offer training to would-be esports champions.
The Tokyo Metro recently announced that it is partnering with an esports education company to open an “Esports Gym” in Tokyo on May 19. It would be one of the first facilities in the world to offer a dedicated esports training space.
What Is An Esports Gym?
According to a report by the Japan Times, would-be gym members can pay a monthly fee of ¥5,500 (USD 50.62) for access to the gym’s facilities — including gaming computers, chairs, and headsets. The computers will come with five games pre-installed, including the competitive puzzle game “Puyo Puyo eSports.”
Members of the gym also have the opportunity to take lessons from esports pros for an additional ¥2,750 ($25.31 USD) per hour.
The gym also plans to offer courses to members wanting to become professionals in the esports scene for a monthly fee of ¥12,100 ($111.37 USD).
It will be the first esports facility in Japan to provide this kind of monthly membership and professional coaching service.
The Tokyo Metro is also considering using the space to host gaming tournaments.
If the gym is successful, the Metro has also said that it may build additional esports gyms along its subway lines.
While the gym would be the first esports training facility in Japan, it wouldn’t be the first worldwide — similar establishments already exist in Singapore and South Korea.
The Growing Esports World
The esports industry is rapidly expanding — both in Japan and internationally — and is on track to surpass $1 billion in revenue this year. The establishment of businesses like esports gyms could be one way to take advantage of the larger prize pools and new sponsorship opportunities that have come with this growth.
In Japan, one 2020 tournament for pinball-like mobile game Monster Strike offered ¥100 million ($920,175 USD) in prize money. The year before, the 2019 International — a tournament for the competitive game Dota 2 — offered a prize pool of more than $30,000,000, one of the largest in esports history.
These prize pools represent a significant increase over pools from just a few years before. The inaugural International, for example, offered a then-record breaking prize pool of $1 million — enough to draw major buzz from gaming press at the time.
As opportunities in the industry become more available — and esports becomes a more viable career option — it’s likely we’ll see a support industry of professionals supporting e-athletes begin to emerge. Esports coaches, agents and publicists may all become career paths for creatives who find themselves drawn to the gaming or vesports world.
Will Esports Gyms Come to the U.S.?
Attempts have been made in the past to create similar establishments in the U.S. In 2018, for example, a Los Angeles business called the “E-Coliseum” briefly offered similar services for local gamers.
Customers could drop in to the facility and rent out gaming equipment — or, for $40 a month, become members and gain access to the E-Coliseum’s stock of gaming PCs and peripherals.
As of May 2021, however, the facility seems to no longer be active.
The Future of Esports Gyms
So long as the esports world continues to grow, there will probably be demand for social spaces like these esports gyms.
However, it may be some time before one finds success in the United States.
For those hoping to make a living in the esports world, these gyms may be a good sign that the esports industry is becoming large enough to support not just the winners of major tournaments, but also coaches and businesses.