That’s what 2011 really was for esports; the year that streaming really caught fire - not consumption, but production.

I didn’t really pay much attention to the streaming debates that burned in the big community haunts earlier this month, over the merits of it, whether players should do it at all, whether players were doing it appropriately, etc. It’s an ultimately pointless subject.

This year, a significant group of players found a way to make money that wasn’t directly tied to their performance in tournaments. It’s a big deal in terms of scene sustainability.

This year, many players found a way to interface directly with fans - maintaining relationships with existing ones and maybe picking up new ones along the way - that wasn’t a FB fan page or Twitter. That’s a big deal too.

When I started out in esports, you either had to have really deep pockets, or a good relationship with a businessman in a really niche industry, to put up a stream - any stream. They were a quarter of the quality for a hundredth of the audience that is commonplace today, and now you can do it for free.

No small amount of credit goes to the likes of the big streaming sites (JTV, Ustream, Own3d) for boatloads of free bandwidth, and a cut of the ad revenue if you’re large enough; and Splitmedialabs, the folks that wrote XSplit.

Happy new year, all-