Throughout the year, professional gaming has gotten a boost of popularity. Ranging from the talk of eSports becoming part of the Olympics to some of the first tournaments with million dollar prize pools, it’s safe to say that the stigma of video games being just a useless hobby is slowly declining.
So what is the world of eSports actually like, and what do they need to change to make it more part of mainstream media?
Last weekend, Nov. 17, the ESEA, Electronic Sports Entertainment Association, hosted its LAN finals in Dallas. The top teams from the ESEA leagues came together for a round-robin style tournament for the final cash prize.
The games were Team Fortress 2, Counter Strike 1.6, Counter Strike Source and Counter Strike Global Offensive. I personally attended the matches for Team Fortress and was able to observe the four teams competing in the LAN.
The games were best of three maps, with each map having a slightly different method of winning.
The first match of the day was between the heavy favorites Classic Mixup, who went undefeated this season, versus a relatively unknown team, Chess Club. Mixup soundly beat the newcomers of Chess Club with a perfect score across two maps.
Leviathan Gaming versus Spacewhales was the next game, which featured Ben “Yz50” Ock against his former team led by Grant “b4nny” Vincent. LG went up three games on the first map but then suffered a bit of communication issues, allowing the Spacewhales to take the first map.
On map two, a similar fashion happened, and Spacewhales pulled off the upset against LG. Unfortunately, this meant that Spacewhales would have to play Mixup, and were promptly defeated 5-2 and then 5-1. LG would defeat Chess Club in the loser bracket, which cued a rematch for LG and Spacewhales. LG managed to flip the score this time around and advanced to face Mixup in the grand finals, a rematch from last season. Mixup’s team play proved to be just too much for LG, and it won the last two maps 5-0 and 5-1, completing team Mixup’s perfect season.
Streams were posted all over the TF2 community with announcers officiating the games in real time.
Earlier this year, Valve hosted the second annual DOTA 2 International tournament, which had a million dollar prize pool.
Competitive gaming is gaining popularity every year, but the only way to make it in the mainstream is to televise the events.
The only problem is the backlash of “eSports aren’t real sports.” Yet, we continue to play poker on ESPN. Poker, which has a high degree of luck, very little, if any, physical exertion and a lot of boredom for the observer.
eSports requires an incredible amount of skill. Starcraft 2 players must train their hands to perform absurd actions per minute to stay competitive. There very little luck involved and plenty of physical exertion.
If we can televise poker and “sports” such as curling and shooting, then certainly we can televise eSports.