eSports deserve same recognition as traditional sports

Carson Suggs

More than 13,000 fans attended the League of Legends World Championships at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Friday, with countless more watching via online streams. The winners, Korean team SK Telecom T1, swept the series 3-0, claiming the $1 million prize.

eSports, already well-established in Korea and other Asian countries, are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. and deserve to be promoted and taken as seriously as football, baseball or basketball. The LoL World Championships, for instance, sold out in an hour according to Forbes.

Last year’s World Championships had 8,000 attendees, and this year the Staples Center was filled to capacity. All matches leading up to the World Championships were streamed online, and some matches garnered over 400,000 views, according to Imagine Games Network. Stream viewership has been estimated in the millions in both North America and across the globe.

A recent New York Times article profiled Major League Gaming, showing how much money and effort is put into these broadcasts.

The level of communication and strategy necessary to achieve success in these games is akin to the coordination required in football and basketball. From the coaches to the players on the field (or on the computer, as it were), communication is crucial to achieving objectives, be they touchdowns or turrets. In both traditional sports and eSports, the team trumps the individual. And like traditional sports, eSports foster community among players and fans, allowing for the kind of intricate post-gaming we see with college and professional football, for example.

“[My] favorite thing about eSports is getting together with friends and watching the game we love played by professionals and admiring their skill,” said Ben Bossler, a member of the UA’s eSports club and a sophomore studying biosystems engineering. “I think it’s the same way with any sports fan.”

With eSports-related stories appearing in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal in August and September, eSports are reaching the national scene in big ways. From Call of Duty to StarCraft 2, and from DOTA 2 to League of Legends, eSports are simply another means for people to engage in friendly competition and watch the very best in the professional scene.

Bossler said eSports has become a global industry with “more fans, more players, more recognition from sponsors and more mainstream acceptance.”

Noah Smith, a freshman studying economics, said that eSports can allow “random people from wherever” to “come together and have fun and work together.” Is this not the point of traditional sports as well?

Carson Suggs is a senior studying English. Follow him @crsnsggs.