Gaming is bigger now than it has ever been. Thanks to the internet millions of people around can play games with each other. Hell, people have found love because of video games.
Right now, the buzzword being thrown around is eSports. But what is it? Think of it like regular sports such as football or hockey, but with games instead. There’s teams, pro players, championships, playoffs, sponsors, and massive arenas packed with cheering fans. While much of the world views games like League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm and DOTA 2 to be somewhat of a joke. The players making hundreds of thousands of dollars don’t quite view it the same way. It is important to know that professional online gaming isn’t something everyone can do.
It is as much a sport as football or even golf. It is just a different classification. For instance, motocross and Nascar are Motor Sports. They aren’t “sports “ in the broad definition of the word, just a different kind. Much of the world has to keep up but the popularity is not dying down. Competitive online gaming can still only move up from here.
I want to tell you a short story that happened to me recently. I went to a restaurant with a couple friends. We went to the bar area and sat down between two TV’s. I look up and see the ESPN logo. But it wasn’t broadcasting a recap of the recent Colorado Rockies game or the Denver Nuggets. It was broadcasting “Heroes of the Dorm”. College eSports. This was huge. I remember reading that EAPN was going to start covering eSports. But seeing it with my own eyes was something almost unbelievable. Hell, Shaquille O’Neal bought a League of Legends team. If that doesn’t make it official, I do not know what will.
I can understand the skepticism of new viewers. After all, how is playing games a sport? Well, it is, but isn’t at the same time. While it may not take exemplary physical skill to compete, Plarium Multiplayer Games for example, take an incredible amount of brain and will power.
League of Legends games can last longer than 70 minutes. Sitting in a chair, in the same position can be uncomfortable and mentally draining. Then usually the players take a 5 minute break and are at it again for game 2 of 5.
There’s a surprising amount of money to be had in eSports. Players are sponsored just like sports teams. Brands like Monster are big, as well as gaming companies such as Razer, Roccat, and Steelseries. After all, these companies make the keyboards, headsets, and mice that players are using. A couple years ago, ESPN dove headfirst into eSports. The first nationally televised eSports game was DOTA 2. The prize for winning was 10 million dollars. Which was funded 100% by the many players on Steam. Viewership was surprisingly high and it was successful enough for EAPN to make it a regular thing.
Coming up is the League of Legends NA Spring Championship in Las Vegas. For the last nine or so weeks teams in North America have been playing for a shot at the trophy and prize money. As well as the notoriety of being the best in the country. It has been a crazy season so far with plenty of upsets. Teams like TSM and CLG have a lot to prove and they beat the best of the best in NA to get to the finals. It doesn’t stop there. This is just the spring split. There’s a mid season invitational where teams from around the world will compete, such as China, Korea, EU, and Russia. Then there’s the summer split, and finally Worlds.
This year marks the six season of League of Legends. And it is showing no signs of slowing down. LoL is the most popular online game at the moment. I myself play. Badly I might add. But between Blizzard’s Heroes of the Storm, Valve’s DOTA 2, and Riot Games’ League of Legends. One thing is certain, online gaming is here to stay and if it was just a fad, it would not have lasted this long.