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Esports takes the world by storm

A student comes home after a long, tiring day of school. She relaxes by doing her usual after school activities. This includes Skyping with her friends while playing League of Legends. Picture taken by Keith Loh.
A student comes home after a long, tiring day of school. She relaxes by doing her usual after school activities. This includes Skyping with her friends while playing League of Legends.
Picture taken by Keith Loh.

by Keith Loh, staff reporter

No more than a decade ago, no one would have thought that the video game industry would become what it is today. Whether it’s on the computer or on the console, video games are being recognized as a professional sport. Even within schools, video game clubs have started popping up throughout the nation. This surge of popularity is partly due to the technology becoming more accessible whether it be on phones or laptops.

Currently, about 27 million people play Riot’s League of Legends, per day. Five years prior, the player base was only in the thousands. This exponential growth and rise in popularity is mainly due to South Korea’s influence on the west.

“In response to the Asian financial crisis, the South Korean government focused on telecommunications and Internet infrastructure. By 2000, a vibrant community of gamers emerged, largely thanks to PC bangs that used the new connections. The clubs acted as a sort of neighborhood basketball court where gamers could test their skills,” according to the NY Times article “For South Korea, Esports is a National Pastime.”

Events such as the season four finals for League of Legends sell out both NBA arenas and soccer stadiums. Millions watch and cheer on their team, whether they’re watching from home or in person. Those at home, have the option of watching it be streamed live while those who are at the event have the opportunity to meet the professional players, other fans and watch the games on television monitors.

“Over 32 million fans watched SK Telecom T1 earn the Summoner’s Cup in front of a sold-out Staples Center,”  according to Dustin Beck’s article on the League of Legends webpage, “One World Championship, 32 Million Viewers.”

This is more than just a game for many competitors, this is their livelihood, their career. The prize pool is in the millions, as teams compete for the grand prize. It is not uncommon for a team to buy a gaming house to practice without distraction or hire a gaming coach to act as an agent and take care of personal matters.

It is debatable whether or not esports can be characterized as a professional sport such as football or baseball, but it is undeniable that Major League Gaming (MLG) has gained recognition. Tournaments from Activision’s Call of Duty franchise are broadcasted on ESPN 3 and sponsored by major companies such as Coca Cola, Samsung, and soon to be Sony. The band, Imagine Dragons also released the song “Warriors”, contributed to the season four League of Legends finals.

 

“At first I didn’t think much of esports, but it’s actually quite exciting to watch,” junior Alessandro Leto said.

 

Esports has come a long way. What was once considered to be “nerdy” has become popular among the masses. Electronic sports has become a social gathering place for people to both compete and connect. This is the world of esports.

 

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