E-Sports: The Next Big Thing

Worlds Championship 2016, credit to LolEsports

Sport has always played a big part in a community’s day-to-day, and with evidence such as non-stop ear aching of the upsetting Super Bowl LI results, it’s hard to live such a statement down. Spectator sports are a great pastime , since it’s easily relatable and a good adrenaline rush to watch behemoths on the battlefield duking it out to get the top spot. But what if we move a traditional sport from a tangible playing field to a virtual battlefield? And instead of a ball or sports gear, the players are equipped with a gaming system and peripherals? Yes, I am talking about Electronic Gaming Sport, or E-sports for short. E-sports is a generalized term used to describe people who play a video game professionally, who also play in tournaments to win big cash prizes and titles for the best of the best. I have been following the professional gaming scene for a good odd years now, close to the exact time Super Smash Bros. Melee had recordings on Youtube in 2006, and later on got heavily invested when the critically acclaimed League of Legends started broadcasting tournaments in early 2010. By then, I never expected E-sports to get as big as it is today, being a multi-billion dollar industry, it doesn’t show signs of letting up. Which is where me writing this article comes into play, and where I pose a daunting question to myself as many other gamers do too:

Should I train to become a professional gamer or should I stay in college and get a degree?

Video games are a fun past-time; they provide amazing amounts of entertainment, include a small amount of competitiveness, and is a good way to relieve whatever stress you’ve accumulated throughout the day. For many it is a great escape from reality that can turn into a passion. Personally, my dream of one day becoming a software engineer is fueled by the joyous memories video games have brought me. And for others they commit hundreds of thousands of hours to become masters at the game they love. There are two different sides to the appreciation of video games, however which side is more worth the taking? In the article “E-Sports at College, With Stars and Scholarships”, written by Nick Wingfield, Just as any other sports teams, companies are starting to scout out the best players in the world to represent them through team sponsorship and contracts. What that means is that professional video game players are now being signed into contracts with teams and are signing with thousands of dollars to their name.For example for the video game League of Legends, the top seeded player in the world is arguably Lee Sang-Hyeok(AKA “Faker”) with a signing contract of $2.5 million to play for SKT Telecom 1 the top team of the world.

Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok, credit to goplay

When you see those numbers, being a professional gamer doesn’t seem like that bad of an option as a career to pursue, but of course we have to remember that just like any sport you have to constantly give your full time and energy to perform at the highest level.So what is the best option for those who cannot become professional athletes? Caught in the rush to power, entrepreneur Rahul Sood created a website known as Unikrn to be used as a betting site for people to bid for their favorite teams. Sood gave a statement to Nick Wingfield in the article “Gambling Comes to E-Sports With Unikrn”, where Sood states that “… it’s a step to bring E-sports to the masses.” It makes sense of course; the more popular E-sports gets, the better the players, the bigger cash prizes, the bigger the bets get. Although Unikrn is not yet legal in the US, its reason for existing is a rather interesting idea and to show how E-sports really is creating new ideology for future participants, whether it be spectator or athlete.

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