Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Rise of "eSports"

The Rise of "eSports"

When you ask yourself "What is a sport?" you would usually picture burly men playing football or people running around throwing a ball into a hoop, but the recent and extreme explosion in the popularity of video games has brought about a whole new phenomena, eSports. (Around 1.2 billion people or around 1/7 of the world's population play video games with 700 million people that play online games).
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So what is an eSport?
An eSport is short for "electronic sport" which in other words means competitive video gaming. Typically the competitions are for multiplayer games that can range from first-person shooter games to 3rd person real-time strategy games (MOBAS).

Image result for league of legends
(League of Legends a popular 3rd person real-time strategy game) https://games.openmandriva.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/hc6k-Custom.png
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(CSGO a popular multiplayer first-person shooter game) http://media.steampowered.com/apps/valvestore/images/slider/store_image_02.png

What makes video games a sport?
This topic for many online is a controversial one, but in many ways eSports are very similar to regular sports. Each game has professionals and teams owned by organizations which are sponsored by companies such as Intel or Nvidia etc.
Image result for csgo teams
These professionals then perform in front of an audience/crowd to win a competition for money and a trophy. Sound similar yet? There are even casters and analysts for the competitions. Players owned by teams have contracts and can be traded around for money like drafting in hockey. Professionals train just like athletes, up to 7-8 hours a day everyday.

What makes it different?

Well first off, sports such as baseball and such have been around for centuries/decades while games such as the Counter Strike series have been around for at most a decade which means that most professionals are relatively young with the oldest being around 30 and the youngest being around even 14 years old with most staying around the late teens to early 20's. These players can have up to 14,000 hours spent training/playing this game which is a lot considering the age of these players.
Most of the views from eSports are mostly from online streams and videos rather than the television.
While this "sport" is not physically strenuous or challenging compared to most other sports, this activity requires an extreme amount of quick-thinking, strategy, reflexes etc.

Image result for esports

eSports and its exponentially growing industry

-eSports is of such importance in South Korea that they even have an opening ceremony for a championship (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogOvT9oSp1c) and the players are treated as celebrities

-The prize pools for a "sport" such as video gaming are massive, with the largest being ~21 million dollars at The International 2016 for Dota 2 http://www.esportsearnings.com/tournaments

-eSports have become so popular that online viewership for an event like League of Legends Championship series reached 32 million viewers which was more than the final game in the NBA finals of 2016 (surprising right?)

(Even I myself watch more eSports than I do TV)

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-The industry generated a revenue of $400 million in 2015 which is expected to increase to $500 million in 2016

-Here's a video to get a sense of the crowds (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJkZg5bLsCE)

The Future
The NBA 76'ers, seeing the potential of eSports, has picked up two eSports teams themselves: Dignitas and Apex. They are currently working to have professional gamers be considered as "athletes" and even have eSports be part of the Olympics. Even people like Shaq have their own teams/orgs in eSports (NRG eSports) showing the presence eSports now have. The game CSGO is even broadcast on television on PBS now. Video games are only getting more popular and so are eSports which leaves you to wonder whether in the next few decades we could see the finals of an eSport as important as the Super Bowl or even more.

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