Esports Rising

I have never been into watching sports . I have always been baffled as to why anyone would want to watch people play the same game over and over, sure there are different teams, different stadiums, and different stakes wagered on the outcome, but the mechanics of the game never changed. The only sports I enjoy watching are short highlight clips, where the athleticism, skill, or sheer luck of a play is obvious to anyone.I have never known about what teams would probably win, what conference, or league any team was from, and in the case of football, I’m not even sure I completely understand all the rules. One thing I do know, however is that I don’t care at all, about any of it.

I don’t know exactly why it is that I don’t care about watching sports. Maybe the reason I don’t care is because I haven’t played on a real team since youth league soccer and T-Ball way back in elementary school. According to uses and gratification theory, people chose the media they consume in order to satisfy their specific needs. I can’t think of a single use I have for watching sports; it doesn’t give me anything to talk about with my friends, none of them care either. It’s not relaxing for me, I find the commentary annoying because half of the time I have no idea who/what they’re talking about.

That’s why i’m excited about how fast Esports have grown in recent years, Since its inception in 2011 The International, a DoTA 2 (Defense of the Ancients 2) tournament has grown from a prize pool of $1.6 million and 500k viewers to over a prize pool of $18 million and 4.6 million viewers. Effectively doubling its viewership each year, TI6 is on track to have 8–10 million viewers this year. To put that in perspective, this years Super Bowl had 111 million viewers (but that’s super bowl 50, not 6).

One of the great things about esports is there is so much variety available and they are always changing, there is no time to get bored of any particular game. DoTA is one of several MOBA(multiplayer online battle arena) games, other popular MoBAs are League of Legends, and Heroes of the Storm. Personally, I’m mediocre at MoBA games, I sometimes find myself losing against Ai controlled teams. Fortunately, Esports covers more than just MoBAs. Real time strategy games like Starcraft 2 (which some people joke is South Korea’s unofficial national sport), classic fighting games like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat ,and Killer Instinct, New on the Esports scene is Rocket League (basically soccer with jet-cars), and my personal favorite competitive game, Halo, which along with Counter Strike, Battlefield, and Call of Duty (a garbage game), is a First person shooter.

(A funny/sad anecdote about HotS: One of my best friends was invited to UC Berkeley’s team for the “Heroes of the Dorm” North American tournament. The prize was full ride scholarships for each member of the team for their college career. He declined the invite to focus on schoolwork and they ended up winning the grand prize. We tease him about that a lot)

I enjoy watching Esports more than I have ever enjoyed watching traditional sports ( though I still prefer Highlights to whole games ). I think this is probably due to the fact that I have a use for watching them. I understand what is going on. I have favorite players who I have personally played with and against so I have a reason to care about the outcome. Esports gives my friends and I something new to watch and talk about. Watching pros helps me learn new tricks and makes me a better player, while playing myself satisfies my need for competition.

If you enjoy video games and have never watched any Esports broadcasts I encourage you to check out or do some googling and find out if your favorite games have competitive leagues (unless your favorite game is CoD, in which case you should change your favorite game) that broadcast their games. I guarantee you will get a kick out of watching high level players compete! Even if your favorite game isn't a competitive Esport, maybe you would enjoy watching other people play it anyways! This group plays FFXIV; a cooperative fantasy role-playing adventure game that I play with my brother and friends. I love watching their videos. And if you can’t tell what’s going on, that's how I usually feel watching football.

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