Sports are something that are covered widely around the world through television, internet, social media. Professional sports players typically grow a passion for their sport early in their life as a child, and that passion and their dedication and skill with the sport leads them to make it their actual career. But what if I told you that such a thing were true with video games?
That’s what esports is: professional gaming. And much like regular sports, the gamers that lead a career in esports as players often have a passion for gaming that can be traced back to when they were first introduced to video games at an early age. Professional gaming is not something that can be achieved with any game, though, and do meet some criteria. The games must be a player versus player game, where one or more players go up against one or more players respectively, bring a scope of competition and teamwork, and/or individual skill.
Many games fall into this genre. You have traditional fighting games, like Street Fighter and Super Smash Bros., along with strategy games like Starcraft, but Esports’ growth has definitely been affected the most by MOBA games (Multiplayer-Online-Battle-Arena), which are games that incentivise's teamwork and coordination above all else, much like traditional sports. The most popular esports in this genre are Dota 2 and League Of Legends.
So how do esports work? Where does the money come from? And do people really watch other people play video games for a living?
Well, esports works in much the same way as regular sports on the business side. When matches are played, there are casters who do play-by-play commentary of the game, people in the backlines doing all of the production for the media, either it be streamed online or broadcasted on television (which has/does happen). There are also coaches that help a player/teams and whose job is to study for the players, so that they can focus more on practicing strategies and communication, while the coach can play many roles. Maybe they help in the team’s chemistry, or sometimes they play more of researcher, making sure the players are prepared for the next tournament or planning and scheduling practice matches.
As for the money, it comes from sponsors and organizations funding money into a tournament prize pool. Big name companies like Monster Energy, SteelSeries and Razor, all of which are very well versed in the gaming and esports communities, sponsor a lot of individual players and teams. This money is then brought into the esports economy, paying for the casters, the talent that work at these events and so-on. Certain games allow their casual viewer base to support the tournaments through the purchase of in-game items and tickets.
And yes, in the same way that people watch others run around with a ball or what not on a large grassy field, playing a game that they may or may not play, people who spectate esports are in the same seat: watching someone play a game that they are passionate about. Routing for their favorite and most relatable personalities or players, supporting these people and the game that they enjoy. In recent years, esports has escalated to a level of mainstream media and appreciation, and the scene doesn’t seem to be in any rush to slow down anytime soon.
Visit http://www.espn.com/esports/ for regular esports news coverage.
When he’s not desperately trying to climb the Dota 2 MMR leaderboards, Francis can usually be seen playing on his Nintendo 3DS or Switch, or writing long and short fiction on his limited spare time. Oh, and he’s on Youtube 24/7.