Sunday, 6 October 2013

Sport: Let The eSports Commence!

So Friday night saw the final of the League of Legends World Championships at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. In an ever growing eSports market the winners took home a $1m purse, and the runners up a measly $250,000. There were viewing parties all over the world in something reminiscent of Wrestlemania, and millions more watched at home. I was dragged, at three in the morning, to the Electric Cinema in Birmingham, England to watch the action. A beautiful irony that the UK's oldest working cinema should be chosen to host such an event.

This is a turning point in Western culture that we're on the brink of. On any given weekend you can choose to rock up to your local football, rugby, [insert sport here] and watch a match. Endless hours of television are dedicated to traditional sports and there's almost no professional sport that won't have some sort of coverage. That's exactly where the world of eSports is heading. The event sold out the venue in an hour. By any stretch of the imagination that's incredible, and this is just the beginning. ESports in the west still hasn't become mainstream despite the inordinate amount of people who play video games.

ESports, obviously, have less physical constraints - you can play them no matter what state your body is in - and you can play with whoever you want, wherever they are in the world; which is obviously one of the unique advantages over a 'sport'. It's summed up pretty well in the video below.

Yes, there's still going to be some hostility toward eSports in the years to come because they're radically different to what's come before and, at the moment at least, Riot is using it as a marketing tool for LoL. They actually lose a lot of money on the big tournaments, so at some point they're going to have to make sure it's actually financially viable to run these big events.

Obviously it's not just LoL but pretty much any game you can play online. Counter Strike, Call of Duty, DOTA 2, FIFA, Starcraft. The people who tend to make decisions in the big companies tend to be people who haven't grown up with video games, and therefore I don't think a big shift is going to happen in the immediate future, but within my lifetime I expect eSports to become something on a par with their traditional counterpart.

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