What does the industry need? The simple answer is easy and complete access to data. But in order to understand why this is the fundamental need for the industry, the current situation has to be examined.
The current situation involves several problem areas.
Challenge 1: Uneven ground
Currently, data is only available partially for and from tournaments and games. The distribution is a matter of exclusive details and third-party products.
Challenge 2: Integrations
Several data sources have to be integrated from several people and systems and formats. This not only costs time and effort, but it takes away convenience for the clients and time for product innovation.
Bringing data into a unified format is a challenge for anyone curating esports data.
Challenge 3: Central Sourcing
It is impossible to represent global statistics, as there is no central source for trustworthy, reliable and quality data.
A simple, representative example would be establishing a CS: GO world player ranking. Right now, a simple thing like that is nearly impossible to do, as most sources only offer a partial amount of data, or incomplete data. A central source does not exist yet.
Challenge 4: Accessibility
By not being centrally available or complete, data doesn’t allow for the building of good user experience products that depend on data surrounding the esports industry. The media industry desperately requires a solution to this problem.
Challenge 5: Lack of Organization
This topic is one that touches every aspect of esports. In comparison with traditional sports, the landscape of esports is chaotic at best, fractured at worst.
There is no central organization for tournaments, no central structure for data. Regional and national structures do not exist or represent only a fraction and that contributes to the problem.
The multitude of tournament organizers come with a multitude of their own scheduling, data and tournament formats. With so many methods and structures, there is a huge margin for error and misunderstandings. It makes it difficult for everyone, even for the biggest names in the scene, to keep an overview and it makes it next to impossible to organize in the long term.
But it isn’t just an issue for the organizers and participants. For start-up companies, the navigation of a multitude of structures, data formats and integrations is further complicated by individual contracts.
Apps developed for and around esports can only use a fracture of data, if they’re using official data in the first place. Many applications use unofficial sources for data, and those pose a huge risk because they are firmly unreliable. Even if there is a degree of accuracy, there is no guarantee for the sustained availability of data.
Challenge 6: Live Data
So far, live data comes from only two sources; streams and the scraping of websites. Streams can provide delayed, inaccurate or incomplete data, at varying speeds. Not to mention that the acquisition of data in these two methods is expensive and unreliable.
Challenge 7: Limited Data
The information given by a public stream is limited. Not only by the usual one-player-view, but information is also hidden by commercial breaks and commentators as well as analyst desks. These events aim to improve the experience of the fans, but they also complicate the acquisition of data through the stream.
Challenge 8: Unofficial Data
Undocumented APIs are available, and unfortunately, also in use. The matter of legality aside, these sources can simply disappear or change - posing an entirely malicious risk to any business using them. A return of investments or profit are difficult to manage under such circumstances.
Challenge 9: Exclusivity
Further problems arise with the multitude of data rights contracts. Such contracts are only given for a limited time span, usually one year, and given exclusively. This means potential clients have only a limited selection and may not even be aware of all sources.
Challenge 10: Monetization
The situation of exclusive and not public data carries the problem of sub-optimal monetization of data. Short timings for schedule and a varying parade of formats for tournaments, simultaneous events, time zones, and unauthorized data usage form an insurmountable chaos.
This chaotic situation makes long term planning difficult from every angle, and for everyone involved. Tournament organizers, data users, media and betting companies struggle for comprehensive scheduling and data sources. Fans and teams have to adjust to an unpredictable event calendar, that cannot be guaranteed to be very fan-friendly and engaging.