Esports’ shot to fame brought along a new kind of entertainment, wads of money, millions of followers, and ridiculous misconceptions. Know more here.
Key in “lol” to your Google search engine…what results do you see?
Getting League of Legends (LoL)—a multi-player online battle arena (MOBA) game—as the top result instead of “Laughing Out Loud” gives a glimpse of the growing popularity of esports into the gaming space. Esports, or electronic sports, is a form of gaming competition carried out via video games.
Esports tournaments convene professional online players and battle them out on Call of Duty, LoL, Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), which was called out for gambling with loot boxes, or other popular video games. What started as a mere pastime had summoned giant networks of esports leagues, raking in millions of players, audiences, and money. LOTS of money.
But of course, the concept of taking video games seriously or exerting funds just to play or to watch someone play a mere video game raises eyebrows—understandably so—for those who are not familiar with how esports works. For the uninitiated, here are some of the most ridiculous esports misconceptions that must be dispelled right now.
1| Only Hermitic Players Who Do Not Have a Life Enjoy Esports
Esports is no longer about the lonely kids in the basement with faces glued to their consoles 24/7.
Esports tournaments and events spawn millions of audience members each year, filling up arenas meant for Super Bowl and other major leagues. In fact, the LoL World Championship 2013 sold out Los Angeles’ Staples Center in just an hour. And DOTA 2, another hit MOBA game, sold out roughly 10,000 tickets under minutes, filling up Seattle’s Key Arena during The International 2015 championship.
The surge of esports to fame skyrocketed across multiple screens as well. Twitch, a live-streaming video channel, broadcasts esports tournaments for Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, CS:GO and more to millions of viewers. In fact, the ELEAGUE Major (CS:GO) put up a record of 1 million unique viewers in 2017.
The League of Legends finals 2015, on the other hand, garnered about 36 million viewers. This record smashes the nearly 31 million spectators who tuned in for the NBA finals in 2016.
Also taking esports tournaments and contests into the mainstream are broadcasting giants—ESPN and Turner—as they began offering tournament coverage and professional gaming content for popular esports titles, including LoL and CS:GO.
Considering these figures and the big moves from media giants, esports has emerged from the dark-dungeon stereotype to sold-out stadiums. It offers a new kind of entertainment to an incredibly diverse market.
2| Esports Is Not Real Sports
This is arguably one of the longest-standing misconceptions surrounding esports.
The conventional mold of sports had always included intense physical action and athletes sporting robust bodies and conditions. Esports, on the other hand, commences in an intense huddle—via a keyboard and a mouse. As a result, many people scoff at the thought of putting the game on the same shelf as “real sports”.
The booming popularity of esports, however, proves otherwise and gears to smash these archetypes. Competition, entertainment, and skill are few of the essential elements of sports, and guess what? Esports made its way to the criterion. First off, it is about to share the same stage with other Olympic events. Esports is in talks to be an official gold medal event in the Summer Olympics to be held in Paris in 2024.
Not only that, the 2018 Asian Games confirms the addition of esports titles—such as League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Pro Evolution Soccer—on its list of featured games. China, on the other hand, is reported to include esports on its official list of medal sports for the 2022 Asian Games—the second biggest multi-sport event in the world following the Olympics.
Following such bold moves that may signify the start of eports acceptance in traditional gaming is the University of Utah (The U). It offers scholarship grants to players qualified for the school’s esports varsity team. While varsity esports is not new to other colleges, The U’s move was a first for one of the colleges under the five major conferences of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
The debate surrounding esports and “real sports” seems to be a long battle. But there is no denying that there is a place for recognizing professional gaming in mainstream sports.
3| There Is No Money in Esports
Sure, esports is becoming immensely popular across the globe, but is it profitable?
Taking note of the surge of viewership and ticket sales mentioned earlier, plus sponsorship money from giant companies, the esports industry poses as a lucrative industry for both spectators and players.
The LoL World Championship in 2017 enticed the online gaming world with a prize pool of US$4 million. On the other hand, the 2018 Call of Duty World League Championships pays around US$1.5 million. But one of the biggest esports prize pool recorded was for The International DOTA 2 in 2017, smashing the records with around US$20 million.
Fans of the ever-growing industry are not put on the sidelines. The best part is one does not have to be a pro gamer to make money from esports. The game’s shot to fame opens doors for multiple betting opportunities. Various bookmarkers accept stakes for esports matches. Simply pick the right person or team, and you are off to a gripping and rewarding play.
4| No Skills Are Required in Playing Esports
Does going against millions of players around the world sound easy? If your answer is yes, think again.
The notion that esports does not require skills mostly stemmed from the “If you don’t break a sweat, I don’t consider it a sport” attitude. Playing video games might be just a pastime for some, but competitive gaming is another side of the coin. You are competing with the best online game players around the world.
Esports players—much like professional sports players—spend hours a day observing and analyzing video game footages, as well as practicing game tactics. Esports coaches also began including physical training to increase player dexterity and agility, as strained wrists, arms, and necks, are becoming a common stumbling rock on the industry.
But do not worry; some studies show that esports engagement, when done right, offer cognitive benefits. Not only do games require skills in planning and strategizing, but they also involve a high level of brain function. In fact, an esports player can do about 400 actions on keyboard and mouse per minute, which is four times better than that of an average person. This is impressive, considering that both cognitive and motor skills are functioning at the same time.
The complex gameplay of eports games also contributes to the improvement of strategic problem-solving skills. Seasoned esports players tend to show great short-term memory, pattern recognition, multitasking ability, and more.
Esports is a budding industry that continues to challenge and modify sports and entertainment. Amidst the misconceptions and skepticism surrounding this booming industry, one thing remains factual—esports is growing and it has no signs of slowing down.