E-Sports is one of the biggest movements in gaming today. By consistently selling out major venues and attracting big name sponsors the world of professional gaming has evolved into something many of us could only dream of. As e-sports inches closer and closer to becoming more mainstream and accepted by the general public as a legitimate sport, speculations can’t help but be made to how e-sports will evolve into a more accessible and viewer friendly event.
Much of e-sports progress can be attributed to the games that brought their enormous player base along with them. League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Starcraft 2 were integral in establishing a strong viewership. Fans like watching their favorite sport much like gamers like watching their favorite game. Unlike traditional sports more games are added to events all the time. Developers are beginning to create games with the intent of their title becoming a major e-sport in mind. New games such as Hearthstone have found success online that has translated to live events. The ever changing landscape of video games is only one of the reasons e-sports appeals to such a large audience. League of Legends does this by means of patches and seasons. Each year is broken down by a series of patches that changes the game in a minor or major way. These patches change the way some characters play, alter the environment and even add new characters to play. A competitive season can have anywhere from 15-20 patches, adapting to the newest patch is what separates the strong teams from the weak. By consistently altering the playing fields games never feel the same, watching a match from last season would feel completely foreign from a game played today, which is why viewers continue to spectate their favorite games on the professional level.
Pushing The Envelope
Long before you could stream your favorite sporting event online or through a portable device video gamers were already being streamed for years. Streaming services Twitch and Azubu have been the go-to platform for pros and entertainers to reach and interact with their audience. A stream is when a player broadcasts the game they’re playing online for anyone to watch, while they stream the audience can chat with each other and the broadcaster by typing in the chat. The interaction between pro player and fans is what’s key here, as no other sport has any service available to them such as this. You can go to the League of Legends page of Twitch at any time of the day and will find a number of professionals streaming their games. The 24-hour service is accessible to anyone with any online device making it the perfect platform to stream professional leagues and tournaments with next to no production cost needed. As traditional sports only begin to explore this medium, e-sports has already made it it’s own. As important as Television is for traditional sports, it’s not necessary for e-sports. Television broadcast are expensive and require incredible resources, while streaming services cost next to nothing.
The Real Deal
I went to my first ever live e-sports event last year. The North American League Championship Series (NA LCS) in California is set up in a studio lot. The studio itself is exactly like any other live event; the players are set up on stage with their own computer each, the audience watches from an massive screen center stage, commentators provide insight and play by plays of the match, post-match interviews of the players and coaches are done at a separate analysis desk and players wait outside to take photos with fans and admirers alike. The production quality is top notch and nothing if not professional. The masses believe e-sports to be a collection of awkward nerds playing video games as a group of people watches in silence, when in truth it’s the opposite. A wide array of fans from all ages cheer when big plays are made and chant their favorite players names, just like a traditional sporting event.
What I’m trying to say is e-sports doesn’t need to become mainstream. In it’s own right it already has, big corporate sponsors, large fanbase, professional teams and a viewer friendly platform has given e-sports a place in a crowded medium. What was once seen as a niche audience has become an incredibly diverse viewership amounting to a stronger infrastructure that can sustain itself. Just like traditional sports.