Gaming, the next great professional sport? – The racket press
February 25, 2017
The field of professional gaming (eSports) may not yet be in the limelight, but it is fast approaching the masses as a sporting event and a popular spectator. ESports cover a wide range of games, but the most established game genres are Real Time Strategy (RTS), First Person Shooter (FPS), MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), and the fights.
The prize pools of major eSports events offer a prize pool of several tens of millions of dollars to the winning teams. International and national eSports viewers are a large and dedicated group that even leads “traditional” sports. According to Lolesports.com, competitive MOBA League of Legends had over 36 million unique viewers in their final competition compared to the most recent NBA Finals which drew 31 million viewers. The same League of Legends final sold out the LA Staples Center in less than an hour.
While the numbers are surprising, many people, maybe yourself included, may not even be familiar with professional gaming or eSports. Although this is relatively new in America, countries like China and South Korea have already established teams and competitions for decades in eSports. The new concept of professional gaming has failed to gain the attention of major TV channels, which is one of the main reasons for its availability to reach the masses. However, according to TIME magazine, negotiations are underway to bring eSports to ESPN with the upcoming launch of a new service.
There is a large part of our population who does not believe that eSports are real “sports”. UW-L junior Ty Rachu said, “All they do is sit on a chair and play a video game. It’s not a real sport, they don’t even move their body most of the time. While that claim may be “true” as long as they don’t run up and down over grass, there is more to the games than clicking. MOBA games like League of Legends and DOTA an average of 35-40 minutes per game of full concentration. During the game, these players make voice calls, click more than 300 times per minute, and coordinate the way to defeat the enemy.
In addition to that, the best players play daily like other “traditional” sports. Competitors train around 8-10 hours a day to stay on top. They compete against other teams to train for tournaments. They receive a salary in addition to the earnings they get. They live and work with other players and get paid to travel to international venues and compete in stadiums for cash prizes. To say that these are not grounds for comparing an eSport to a “traditional” sport is wrong. They almost all share the same similarities outside of the current game.
Esports teams are simply not just the gamers who play the games, but are an entire organization. The best teams in the world have analysts, coaches, substitutes, teams, brands, etc. Professional gamers are made up of more than a bunch of lazy kids with controllers and keyboards. Team members maintain the brand of the team they represent, and most teams and individual players have dozens of major sponsors. They are true professionals at the top of their respective fields and are adored by millions of people around the world.
The fact that eSports has the same components of a “traditional” sport makes it difficult to say that it is not a sport. real sport. While eSports might not be the first choice we think of when we hear the word sport, it may be in future generations.