By Vincent De Guzman
Tens of thousands of roaring fans pack the stands. Lights flare across the arena as the folks back home sit on the edge of their seats, awaiting their favorite player’s next move. With hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake, dozens of well-trained professionals have spent years preparing themselves for this tournament. It all comes down to the final two teams. Millions of spectators around the world fall into complete silence. Hearts pound, jaws clench and palms sweat as they await the final play.
No, I’m not talking about basketball, or soccer, or football. I’m talking about eSports.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Video games? Are you serious? Yes, actually, I am – and I think it’s time for you to be serious too. In recent years, the eSports industry has exploded. According to SuperData, a statistics company, the eSports industry raked in a whopping 1.5 billion dollars in 2017, and it is projected to grow by at least 26% by 2020. Commentators, analysts, journalists, and more benefit from the growing market for professional video gaming. Of course, the audiences enjoy the games too.
Game 7 of the NBA finals in 2016 peaked at around 44.5 million viewers, becoming the NBA’s most viewed game ever. This is nothing compared to the draw of video games. The League of Legends world championship in 2017 peaked at over 100 million viewers, and the 2018 CS:GO Boston Major drew 1.8 million viewers and set the viewership record for Twitch (a streaming service mostly for video games). Video games can be just as – if not more – entertaining as other sports.
Of course, with huge crowds comes huge prizes. The 2017 League of Legends world championship had a 4.17 million dollar prize pool, the 2018 CS:GO Boston major had a 1 million dollar prize pool, and the International – a tournament for DOTA 2 – had close to a 25 million dollar prize pool. These players aren’t just kids at a local arcade. They’re athletes playing to win – and the best win a lot.
For instance, take Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. Largely considered to be the greatest League of Legends player of all time, Faker has played professionally since 2013 and won eSports player of the year in 2017. In those few years, he earned over 1.2 million dollars. Gaming isn’t just a hobby now – it’s a job.
But is eSports really a sport? According to Oxford Dictionary, a sport is defined as: “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Professional gaming ticks all the boxes. It takes years of practice and experience to acquire the skill and knowledge required to be a top player, and the games played are most certainly entertaining. With audiences from around the world, eSports are beginning to surpass other professional sports in viewership and prize money.
Overall, it’s time to reconsider things. Reconsider eSports, and professional gamers, and video games as a whole. In this new generation of people, media consumption is playing growing role in entertainment, with video games climbing the ranks of leading forms of media. But the games aren’t just for entertainment either. They’re highly competitive, highly funded and highly entertaining all at the same time.
This ain’t Pac-Man anymore. This is eSports. This is professional gaming.
- Walker, Alex. “More People Watched League Of Legends Than The NBA Finals.” Kotaku Australia. Kotaku Australia, 21 June 2016. Web. 17 Mar. 2018.
- Ring, Oliver. “SuperData Report Suggests Esports Revenue to Reach $2.3 Billion in 2022.” Esports Insider. Esports Insider, 12 Dec. 2017. Web. 17 Mar. 2018.
- “Lee “Faker” Sang Hyeok – League of Legends Player.” E-Sports Earnings. E-Sports Earnings, 2018. Web. 17 Mar. 2018.
- “ELEAGUE Major 2018.” Esports Charts. Esports Charts, 2018. Web. 17 Mar. 2018.
- “2017 Major Championship.” Esports Charts. Esports Charts, 2018. Web. 17 Mar. 2018.
- “The International 2017.” Esports Charts. Esports Charts, 2018. Web. 17 Mar. 2018.