There was a point not that long ago that the very idea of an organized gaming competition was scoffed at as nothing more than people playing silly games, and it was thought that “competition” was used loosely.
After all, they are just games. Right?
A HISTORY OF COMPETITION
A game is defined as “a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.” Chess is a game, football is a game, poker is a game, League of Legends is a game. While the latter may not have been considered in the same “League” as the rest of those on the list, competitive gaming is becoming a force.
Ever since the first quarters were plunked into the first arcade consoles decades ago, there has always been competition. Having your initials at the top of the Pac-Man game at the local pizza joint or arcade was competition. Playing against friends in their basement was competition. From these beginnings, competitive gaming established its roots. And now it’s going mainstream.
Winning teams from The International Dota 2 Championship Tournament took home $6,634,663, or roughly $1.3 million each. For playing video games. Hosted by Valve Corporation, the total prize pool for the tournament exceeded $18 million dollars – one of the largest prize pools in all of sports. Teams all the way through 6th place made over a million dollars each. There is big money in big gaming, and with more support from huge companies, the future is growing brighter.
CORPORATE MEDIA INVOLVEMENT
In early 2016, sports media giant ESPN announced a new dedication to live eSports gaming. ESPN ESports, as it is being called, has launched a twitter account, website, and even broadcast the “Heroes of the Dorm” collegiate tournament live on ESPN2. ESPN has also hosted live broadcasts on the ultra-popular gaming channel Twitch, the largest social video tool for gamers.
Speaking of Twitch and giant companies, Amazon purchased Twitch (and their 100 million unique viewers per month) in 2014 for nearly one billion dollars. Billion with a “B”. Turner Broadcasting is also recently joining in the fun and is in developmental and planning stages for a broadcast schedule airing live events on TBS. Plans for as many as 20 live broadcasts have been mentioned.
Yahoo also entered the eSports gaming mix with the launch of the Yahoo Esports brand in 2016. Choosing to focus on full coverage of five individual game titles, fans of League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and Street Fighter V. The estimated online gaming global audience is expected to grow from the 226+ million people who tuned in to eSports in 2015.
While the prizes may be huge and the strategies may be strategy-er than ever, these are still the earlier stages in the evolution of the world of online competitive gaming. As the fans continue to become more involved and interest grows, so too will the exposure to this all too familiar and unfamiliar world.