Since St. Clair College's esports broadcasts kicked off nearly a month ago, viewership has been up despite the entire production being run by just one person.
As cameraman, commentator and producer of the show, Daniel Banner has been working hard to keep up the Saints Gaming programming all from his living room.
He is tasked with switching camera angles, monitoring sound levels and ensuring the online stream is running smoothly. On top of all those duties, Banner estimates that he's been the sole commentator for about 60 per cent of the broadcasts.
This is in stark contrast to last year's Twitch and Youtube streams that were run by a team of five people from an on-campus studio.
"There's a little bit of pride to it. I'm very thankful for the opportunity and happy about it, knowing that more and more people are learning about the program or getting into esports cause of something that I am putting together," Banner said.
"At the end of the day, when the broadcast is done and all goes well, like you go to bed happy, you know what I mean? ... It doesn't bother me in the slightest that majority of it would be on my shoulders at all."
But it's not always smooth sailing, as Banner told CBC News. In addition to handling the technical parts of the show, he also has to pay attention so that he can comment on what's happening.
Some days, he admits, he's just not on his game.
"If I am not on my game for a single broadcast, that entire broadcast feels miserable," he said."I have nobody else to rely on, I can't get somebody from online to monitor the audio for me or to switch to scenes for me or anything like that on a moment's notice so that that can be rough, that's for sure."
Most nights, he said, he constantly feels like he's playing catch-up.
"It's always the feeling of there's one more thing that I can be doing right now, so it can be a little bit anxiety inducing," Banner said. "But then when you get to see the broadcast at the end of the day and look at it, it's like 'that was actually really good.' You can then take a sigh of relief, but it's completely on edge from start to finish."
Sports fans have 'migrated' to esports
In the last month alone, Banner said the club has received some 30,000 views on their own content — and it's not only Canadians who are tuning in to watch. They've also had views from people in the United States, Latin America and Korea.
"It's cool to see our our matches entertaining people from around the world," he said.
While there's usually a spike in views at the start of any school year, Banner said he suspects this year the cause might be a little different.
The viewership volume they're seeing, he said, might be the result of people trying to find new way to fulfill their "competitive itch," considering that traditional sports have been disrupted.
"I know for a lot of the younger demographic, esports has been that fix, so I would assume that has a big deal to do with our spike," he said.
And he's not the only one seeing this increased interest. Co-founder of Windsor's EZ Mode Gaming Bar and Lounge Matt Deleersynder said esports have definitely peaked this year due to the pandemic.
"People are looking for things to do and things to watch as sports fans and esports has been [where] everyone has migrated," he said. "With everything going online and people staying at home, it's the perfect opportunity for esports to rise and to be the new place where people are watching."
Deleersynder said what's good about esports is that there's the opportunity for everyone to show off their skills.
"The more and more that the smaller places like St. Clair College and University of Windsor and anybody else out there [or] you're somebody in a basement streaming content, it's so important to see the different aspects from a professional level to an amateur level," he said.
"Whereas in sports we mostly see the professional level. I think it offers a great opportunity for different stages of esports to be seen.
Banner's solo-ing days are numbered though as he said he's finally been able to find a number of interested parties looking to help him shoulder the broadcast — mainly for commentary duties — so he can play a more active role in its production.