Understanding complexity and dynamics in the career development of eSports athletes

Meng-Lewis, Yue; Wong, Donna; Zhao, Yupei and Lewis, Gavin (2022). Understanding complexity and dynamics in the career development of eSports athletes. Sport Management Review, 25(1) pp. 106–133.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smr.2020.08.003


With the accelerated growth of the esports industry over the last few years, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of esports athletes. Yet there is limited research examining these athletes’ professional career journeys. This study provides a novel investigation into their career development process. This qualitative study uses a sample of 35 esports athletes from 16 professional esports clubs in China. Findings from semi-structured interviews confirmed our proposition that traditional career theories may be inadequate to capture the complex and dynamic nature of the newly emerged careers within esports. The authors propose that Chaos Theory in Careers (CTC) provides principles that may more effectively describe and explain the nature and main characteristics of esports careers, compared to the more conventional linear or stage-based sports career theories. This study makes a significant theoretical contribution through developing esports career theory which is applicable to a contemporary setting and has practical implications to practitioners for esports talent identification, recruitment and development.

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