Many people watch traditional sports, like football, soccer, and golf, especially during large events like the Olympics; 600,000 people tuned in just to watch Shaun White and 24 million tuned in for NBC’s prime time coverage, but what if I told you that for E-Sports, or Electronic Sports, more than 27 million people tuned in for one of the biggest E-Sports events each year; the League of Legends World Championship. E-Sports is like any other sport, with a competition played between 2 players or teams. The only difference is that it is done electronically through video games. It is usually streamed on various websites, the main ones being Twitch.tv and YouTube.
But why are so many people interested in watching someone really good play against another good player in a video game? Take what Linda Holmes said in her article when talking about pop culture:
“If you think monkeys are fascinating and you want to understand and be of value to them, it’s not enough to be an expert on what monkeys should ideally eat. You have to understand what monkeys actually eat.”
So what does she mean by this? Well she is talking about we as people and what we should take in culturally compared to what we are taking in culturally. So I ask again, what is it about E-Sports that makes it so popular and is still constantly growing? Well with over 50% of households having at least 2 gaming consoles, and almost 60% of Americans playing video games it’s no wonder why so many people in the States decide to tune in to watch an E-Sports event. E-Sports is even more popular in eastern cultures than it is in western cultures. Take Korea for example, which has been a major component in E-Sports for almost 2 decades, dating back to StarCraft and StarCraft: Brood Wars. E-Sports is very much a part of Korean culture. E-Sports is also very popular because it has many similarities to traditional sports. It has casters, just like you would hear in a football or baseball game, an analyst desk that has post game analysis, coaches, journalism, and more. Players and personalities even have their own fan bases, rivalry, trash talk, and some good ol’ drama.
Just to put things in perspective, take the 2013 League of Legends World Championship which had 32 million viewers, with 8.5 million simultaneous viewers at one point. The previous World Championship held in 2012 had a total of 8.2 million viewers. The 2014 World Championship had 27 million viewers, 5 million less than the previous year, but spiked with 11.2 simultaneous viewers.
E-Sports has become so popular that the music industry is becoming interested. For the 2014 League of Legends World Championship, Riot Games worked in conjunction with Imagine Dragons to come out with a single called Warriors.
Also Imagine Dragons preformed live for the opening ceremony and at the end of the championship when Korea’s Samsung White was crowned World Champions.
Take another game, Dota 2, which boasted over a 10 million dollar prize pool for its International Dota 2 Championship.
So what is my take on E-Sports? I think E-Sports will continue to grow. I think E-Sports is still very young and has much room to grow. Many traditional sports took decades and even centuries to become what they are now, and I think that E-sports will need the same. Also because the current technology, tuning in to an E-Sports event could be as simple as pressing a button on your mobile device. With how easy it is to access to access these events, video games, and the internet, E-Sports will only continue to grow. So why don’t you check it out. Give your hand at League of Legends or its sub reddit, Dota 2 or its sub reddit, Counter Strike: Global Offensive or its sub reddit, or another game.