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The DXRacer RV131 is the choice of champions, says a salesman at the Tokyo Game Show. Crafted from the finest high-tech materials, contoured for performance and precision-built for victory under the most unforgiving conditions. To the uninitiated, however, it appears little more than a brightly coloured comfy chair.

Yet in the blistering crucible of esports, video game tournaments for professionals and amateurs where a $10m top prize can be won or lost on the click of a mouse, the right chair is as important to the superstar players of Overwatch or Dota 2 as Roger Federer’s tennis racket or Lionel Messi’s football boots.

“Perception is everything,” says Alex Lim, secretary-general of the International e-Sports Federation, and point man for an audacious bid to have the genre recognised as an Olympic event by 2024. “One generation grew up kicking a ball in the back yard, the next grew up with choices that included games. We live in a digital culture that most people accept is redefining a whole range of things: sport is one of them.”

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This assertion, though questioned by some broadcasters and sports promoters, comes with potentially huge commercial implications. The global games industry, according to several forecasts, is on course to exceed $100bn in annual revenues this year and it continues to grow faster than the broader entertainment sector. And while esports currently lacks a comprehensive business model, there are many who believe its commercial trajectory is primed to surprise — especially if mainstream broadcasters come to see esports content as an asset that can lure viewers back from their smartphones and PCs.

Mr Lim believes that within five years broadcasters, technology groups and advertisers will divide into two camps: those who view the RV131 as a glorified office chair and those that see a $350 piece of sports equipment.

The first group, he suggests, will miss out on an industry that generated more than 6bn total viewing hours last year and has already begun to transform mainstream sports entertainment, by driving eye-catching corporate deals and creating international celebrities and team tribalism that could translate into a multibillion-dollar industry.

Early projections suggest that esports revenues will come via three main channels: the sale of content rights to broadcasters; direct payments from live streaming services — some live tournaments can attract tens of millions of online spectators — and advertising revenues initially from the games industry, but ultimately from broader product placement.

Esports is the first major global entertainment trend to take its lead from Asia — largely pioneered in South Korea, China now provides the largest bloc of viewers — rather than the west. But its early days have been beset by organisational mayhem.