Esports’ fast rise to popularity


Patar Knight via Wikimedia

League of Legends Esports Championship 2012

Chris Cumberbatch, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Most people have heard of the Fortnite championship winner who was 13 years old when he won $3 million from the tournament. While this may seem very surprising, it is only a part of the growing wave of the next biggest sport in the world. Projected to dwarf basketball, football, baseball, and even soccer, lies the next big thing – Esports. 

The definition of a sport is, “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” An Esport is, “A multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers.” People playing video games professionally, getting paid large sums of money, participating in huge tournaments and millions of audience members watching present and virtually may seem outlandish to many, but it is quickly becoming a reality.

The popular TV show “Ballers” is releasing a new season based on the 1.1 billion dollar industry. In 2014 the venue used to host the FIFA World Cup seated 45,000 attendees, with 27 million watching online. The crowd was drawn to see the League of Legends, a popular Esport Game, final with a prize pool of more than four million dollars. In 2017 these numbers doubled with even more attendees and more than 60 million people tuning in to watch the event. 

In a survey of Zack’s Earth Science class, eight students believed Esports are “real” sports while 12 disagreed. Nonetheless, the U.S government has declared professional Esports players as professional athletes, giving them the same traveling and taxation rights as NBA, NFL and MLB athletes. 

In an interview with Pleasant Valley’s captain of Esports club, Joe Dilley found out about Esports because he was really into a popular fighting game, Super Smash Brothers. When he was invited to the PV Esports team, he had no idea it existed. In his words, it was like “A whole new world.”  

Dilley added, “‘You don’t get tired playing Esports like a normal sport.’ That’s the biggest lie I’ve ever heard. After hockey, I’m tired and sweaty but mentally I feel great. Go to an overwatch tournament, and you’ll sleep for 48 hours straight. The mental strain, as well as the pressure of not letting down your team, rivals real sports, if not making it more difficult.” 

If scholarships, drafting, a regular paycheck plus a signing bonus, training for 8-10 hours a day with a team and winning millions of dollars in tournaments are some of the fundamentals of a sport, then Esports definitely fits the bill. The widespread opportunity of Esports is something that makes it unique. Even if someone trains as hard as they can every day of their life, it is unlikely that they will be able to make the NBA or NFL if they are shorter than average athletes.

Esports, on the other hand, are multinational, so even outside of the US it is considered a valuable career. With enough strenuous practice anyone can become great.