On September 16 and 17, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY will be packed to the walls. The fans will be wearing jerseys of their favorite team, the lights will be shining and the music will be blaring. It will have the feel of a major sporting event–that’s because it is one.

For those who haven’t yet found their way into the esports world, think of ESL One New York as a Major Tournament in golf or a Grand Slam Tournament in tennis. The world’s best gamers and their teams will be there.

The Electronic Sports League (ESL) actually launched nearly 20 years ago in 2000. The company was first launched as an online gaming league and slowly began to grow as the Internet and the world of video games began to converge.

Now, esports is flourishing on an international level and it doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon. According to a report from Newzoo, a market researcher, the esports economy will grow 41 percent this year to $696 million and is on pace to be worth $1.5 billion by the turn of the decade.

The report also estimates that there are 194 million esports viewers in 2017 and that the number will grow to 303 million by 2020.

“Esports is not only growing exponentially as a new independent business and industry, it is also accelerating the convergence of various established industries,” said Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo, in a statement. “For brands, media, and entertainment companies, esports provides a chance to capitalize on the favorite pastime of digital natives and millennials: playing games and watching game content. With the arrival of livestreams and events, gaming has entered the realm of broadcasters and media that can now apply their advertising business model to a market previously out of reach for them.”

ESL and its events are now treated like prize fights or MMA cards with major arenas in big cities seeking them out.

After putting on a successful ESL One event in 2016, Barclays Center has made it a mission to continue to grow its partnership with ESL and has agreed to host an ESL One event in each of the next four years – which will feature the world’s best CS:GO (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive) players.

So for all the detractors who want to waste time arguing whether esports is actually a “sport,” they’re missing the point: esports is here and it’s only getting bigger.

(Image courtesy The All-Night Images via Flickr.)