The lights go up and the crowd’s cheer echoes as the commentators make their predictions for the upcoming match up and talk statistics. But, instead of the usual talk of touchdowns and tackles, we are talking number of kills and the players’ best characters. Because, like it or not, competitive gaming is here and it’s bigger than ever.
Last weekend, dozens of professional League of Legends teams gathered in Dallas to compete for a $10,000 prize. And for a League of Legends tournament, the largest competitive video game in the world, $10,000 dollars isn’t even scratching the surface of what these players can make in a year.
For me, sitting down and watching my two favorite teams matched up in the final game of the tournament is like any football fan having both of their favorite teams make it to the Super Bowl. I didn’t know whom to root for. Do I cheer on the underdogs or the No. 1-ranked team in North America?
Now, before anyone gets on me about competitive gaming as a sport, let me clear that up. No, I do not consider it a sport. A sport requires competition, skill and athleticism. Obviously, gaming is competitive. Only one side is able to win after one team invades and destroys the others’ base. Gaming also requires an immense amount of skill and practice to be able to be as talented as professional players are. The only area where it falters is athleticism. While skill is required, it only takes about the same amount of physical stamina and strength as sitting around and checking your Facebook.
Regardless of whether it is a sport or not, it’s a competition that deserves the respect and attention other similar competitions receive. Even poker games get their time in the limelight on ESPN nearly every day.
But, right now, video games are still viewed by many as something your little brother plays. They aren’t put on the same competitive platform as sports, poker or even a spelling bee. Just like there is a big difference between a Pee Wee baseball team and the Cardinals, there is a large disparity between me playing a game of League of Legends with my friends and Curse, the No. 1-ranked gaming team in North America, playing a game of League of Legends.
These people only get to where they are at with devotion, practice and preparation. They have millions of fans, like me, and are even getting major corporate recognition. Adidas began a sponsorship with a team for the first time just a few weeks ago.
I get the same excitement watching Curse play as I did when I went to see the Kansas City Royals play as a little kid. These people are doing something I love to do, and they are getting paid to do it. What’s not to love about that?