eSports — 5 Things You Need to Know
eSports (Electronic Sports) isn't the nerdy pass time it used to be. With viewership growing exponentially, competitive gaming is breaking onto the pop culture scene. Now is as good a time as any to hop on the band wagon and give eSports a chance.
You can use this post as your casual guide to the eSports scene. Here are 5 things you need to know about eSports!
There are a ton of titles on the eSports circuit
Chances are, your favorite game probably has an eSports scene. So, why not check it out? Whether you play first person shooters, real time strategies, or fighting games, you'll be able to find a competitive scene that is right in your wheelhouse.
The two largest games in eSports are League of Legends and Starcraft 2. In addition to those two behemoths, dozens of other titles are attached to various eSports leagues. Below you can find a lot of the major titles and some videos of eSports highlights from the last year.
There are MASSIVE prizes attached to tournaments
After over a decade of growth in professional eSports, several prominent leagues have emerged. And as eSports becomes more organized, tournaments become more frequent and prize pools grow ever larger.
The largest tournament purse in history was announced recently by a newcomer to the eSports scene. Riot Games, publisher and owner of League of Legends, is holding a $3,000,000 tournament to close out their second professional season. This is not the norm though, LoL is a anomaly when it comes to eSports.
The StarCraft franchise helped popularize eSports and they have continually been a leader in viewership and prize totals. StarCraft 2 usually boasts prize pools of around $100,000, bringing in players from around the world.
Below you can watch Riot's $3,000,000 tourney announcement and check out 5 of the largest eSports leagues.
You can watch eSports whenever you want
It's always on! There are more live streams, videos on demand, and replays than a professional sport. It's a blessing and a curse. You can realistically watch eSports 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When there isn't a tournament on, you can watch professional players streaming. I wouldn't suggest that you fully take advantage of the 24/7 content, but it's definitely available.
Justin.tv, Twitch.tv, and Own.3d are three of the major streaming and broadcast sources for eSports. Unlike regular professional sports, eSports viewership is very much a 2 way street. Most streamers will also have a chat open to answer questions or respond to comments that you might have. Streamers realize that their personality drives their viewership as much as their game play. So, often times you will find that the pro player you are watching is also giving commentary on his play. There is no other type of professional sport that has this level of accessibility to a pro player. That fact alone makes eSports great.
You can play professionally
Intel Extreme Masters World Championship 2012 Final Day (YouTube)
OK. So. That was a bit of a stretch. What I meant to say was ‘you can play in amateur leagues’ or 'you might get to play with professionals.' It just didn’t have the same ring as all of the other titles – ಠ_ಠ – I apologize.
The truth of the of the matter is, as you consume eSports content, you become aware of local leagues, amateur leagues, and gamer groups. If you think you are good, but not professional good, you can usually find amateur online tournaments with cash prizes.
And who knows, you might randomly come across a professional in a game. Then you'll will know why you melt every time you walk into his vision.
eSports are going to be huge
Barcraft at Mad Dog in the Fog, San Francisco (flickr)
eSports is going to eventually become mainstream. You might as well jump on the band wagon early, just to say you did.
It seems like over the last two years, every major tournament has broken the previous tournaments viewership record. Major League Gaming had a record breaking 241,000 concurrent viewers during a tournament in November 2011, only to be beaten six months later by IGN Pro League's 346,000 viewers.
And even 100,000 viewer increase won't protect the title for long. Massive prize pools and season championships loom on the horizon. Riot's $3,000,000 tourney is sure to crush every record to date.
A grass roots eSports community has even begun to emerge. Barcraft events (Barcraft is an eSports watching party at a local bar/pub) have been popping up in cities all over the country. Below you can check out a Barcraft event at The Mad Dog in the Fog in San Francisco, CA.