By now you’re getting past the point of irritated with the word ‘eSports’ popping up everywhere you look. Curiosity is setting in.
You’ve tried to avoid even looking to see what the hell the word even means. You’re pretty sure it involves nerds, yet don’t know what the geeks would have to do with sports.
Admittedly, I have only recently become acquainted with this growing sport. Yes, it’s a sport. If golf and NASCAR are defined as a sport, then eSports is without a question a bona fide sporting event.
My introduction to eSports came through DraftKings, which could be considered an eSport in and of itself in my opinion. A few months ago DK started offering daily fantasy contests for eSports where you pick a fantasy team whom you think will do the best in video game tournaments. I even wasted a few bucks just to see how it worked, even though I knew no player available to draft and couldn’t pronounce most of the names.
I assumed there wouldn’t be enough fantasy users to support eSports on DraftKings for very long. That assumption was way off as the eSports arena is only getting bigger. As I checked out DraftKings this morning, they even have a Twitch.tv feed that shows the games live so you can watch and keep track of your fantasy team.
So to put it simply, eSports is nerd on nerd video game tournaments. Think March Madness without the sweat.
These video game tourneys offer cash prizes for the winners and draw nice size crowds to watch the matches. A contest in Manila going on as I type is offering a $250K prize pool for a game called Dota 2.
Spectators can watch on Twitch.tv, which draws around 100 million visitors a month, or attend the tournaments live.
Sure, you could clown this new niche sport as something to be played in the shadows while the real athletes compete on the bigger stages of NFL stadiums and NBA arenas. But make no mistake, eSports are on the come. According to market tracking firm NewZoo, this will be a billion dollar industry by 2019.
Still think you don’t need to bother checking out these video game do or die tournaments since it’s a flash in the pan? ESPN has dedicated an entire section to eSports. We’re even seeing more and more eSport tournament finals highlights on SportsCenter.
Still not sure? Bud Light is onboard. You know the best selling beer in America. They wouldn’t bother running commercials aimed at those with fast-twitch thumb muscles if they weren’t sure the League of Legends and Call of Duty masses will only grow in numbers.
Clearly this new sport won’t be for everyone. Not every guy is gonna trade in his NFL RedZone subscription to watch a Critical Strike match online. But eSports isn’t for those already hooked on other sports. It’s for a whole new generation.
And for those who think it’s silly to watch others play video games, isn’t it silly for us to watch others play old school sports? We’re all just watching other people “doing,” while we sit passively by.
At least with eSports a spectator can actually play in these games if they choose.
99.9999 percent of us watching MLB are not headed to ‘The Show’ anytime soon.
eSports are just the latest form of entertainment that proves there is something for everybody in 2016. We’re not stuck watching baseball in the 1930’s with only a handful of teams in the league. We have real options when it comes to what we do with our free time.
Many will laugh off the notion that this new genre of sports will make any real impact. That’s just short term thinking however. If a League of Legends final can sell out the Staples Center like it did in 2013, then it’s clear eSports are not going anywhere.
The best indicator that eSports is indeed a real sport? Vegas is in the process of setting rules up in order to offer gambling on these tournaments. The bookmakers wouldn’t bother if they didn’t see the enormous possibilities ahead.
The fact that these sports can cross seas in order to reach more fans easier than traditional sports should give the good ole boys of the NFL, NBA, and MLB something to think about. Video game action translates pretty well from New Jersey to Beijing.
Gamers all over the world can appreciate a high kill count on a first-person shooter game. Whereas it’s hard to make those outside the USA give a damn about a touchdown.