Esports or Electronic Sports, has become this massive beast that is growing every day. Growing in spectator numbers, in sponsorship dollars, in players and in the ability for more and more people to step into professional leagues. …but let me back up a bit
What is this “Esports”?
Okay – so for those who aren’t on this bandwagon yet, esports is the professionalization of electronic games. In very much the same way that rugby, netball and tennis have competitions, leagues and grand-slams – so too do competitive games. The similarities are astounding, with the biggest events having STADIUMS of spectators watching teams duke, twitch reflex, and strategize over one another for big prize money. There are corporate sponsors, captains, groupies, supporters, commentators, analysts and all the advertising one would expect of a major sporting event….except that instead of wielding a racquet or throwing a ball, players utilise a controller or keyboard and mouse.
The esports realm encompasses multiple gaming platforms (Nintendo, PC, PlayStation, Xbox) and hoards of different games. Here’s a quick run-down on some of the most popular.
- 1 Fighting games
- 2 First-person shooters
- 3 Real-time strategy
- 4 Sports games
- 5 Multiplayer online battle arena
- 6 Others
It’s Big? How Big?
What’s rapidly helping esports catch up to and even overtake the scope of traditional sports, is that not only can spectators attend these events, but you can remotely log into viewing streams online and control how you watch the action. In fact, tuning in to watch can often reward casual players with “items” and in-game bonuses to use themselves when they play. Indeed at the largest event held this year, the TI5 DOTA 2 (The International, Defence Of The Ancients) competition – there were some 20 million viewers over the course of the event and the eventual winners (Team Evil Geniuses) took home more than a cool $6 million US amongst their team.
Quite seriously, with the scope for advertising, players and the ability host massive events becoming easier – it’s getting more and more viable for people to support themselves as a professional esportsman. Check this link for the top 100 paid players and what they earn http://www.esportsearnings.com/players…..below is a snapshot of the top 17 – notice they are all DOTA 2 players, purely because this game has the highest following and support at the moment.
Is it Worth Watching?
In a word? Absolutely! The generational preconception that “gaming” is a means to pass the time is on the way out. These competitive games combine a mix of twitch reflex game play with careful strategic decision, depending on the game. There is a reason that DOTA 2 is so successful.
Dota 2 is played in matches between two five-player teams, each of which occupies a stronghold in a corner of the playing field. A team wins by destroying the other side’s “Ancient” building, located within the opposing stronghold. Each player controls one of 110 playable “Hero” characters that feature unique powers and styles of play. During a match, the player collects gold, items, and experience points for their Hero, while combating Heroes of the opposite team.
Now the presentation of these major matches are held in large stadiums with huge screens allowing spectators to watch live. Each match is professionally analysed and broken down with expert commentary that is the rival of any other sport. In fact – there are some truly unique personalities that make it really entertaining…..Dota 2 players will instantly recognise commentator TOBIONE and his incredibly energetic style – “IT’S A DISASTAH!!!!!” So good! Couple that with counterparts like “Blitz” and “Purge” who have absolute knowledge of the game mechanics, and you get a fantastic insight into what the players are doing and why. At a competitive level, the strategies and tactics used are incredibly complex and fascinating to watch unfold. Check out this vid from the Finals with commentary – listen to the crowd go nuts!
How to Get Into It
If you enjoy gaming of ay kind – odds are there is some kind of competitive league. Hop on over to Google or Youtube and check it out. Maybe there is a local league near you? Whatever your opinion on gaming, esports is here to stay and it’s on the rise. My opinion? It’s a world of fun that anyone can get into – so give it a go.