By: Thomas Ressa
By definition, eSports are organized multiplayer video games in which members of a team compete in mind games and “sports” facilitated through video game input. To be honest, that’s a little too rigid for me. When I find myself trying to define eSports, I think of members of a team getting together and strategizing and executing in a intense, competitive game environment similar to…well, sports. I know all the rage right now is trying to find a way to categorize the fact that nobody is actually physically competing in anything; meaning there is no physical contact and you don’t have to be in shape, fit, and practicing any physical elements. There are no “athletes” per se but I will argue that there is some intense mental elements and plenty of physical output in the form of clicks, extremely finite mouse movements and keyboard input. Listen, I’ve been an athlete all my life and would probably argue that cheerleading is more of a sport than eSports and hopefully cause a debate of its own but eSports is new and everyone is jumping at an opportunity to make their opinion heard. One thing I do know for sure is that eSports are intense; it requires mental fortitude and brainstorming, game plans, use of individual skill for the betterment of the team and ultimately timely execution just like any sport does.
I will never forget my first true introduction to eSports which came only last year when I attended TI5, better known as The International – a tournament held yearly for DoTA 2. Spending a full week inside Key Arena in Seattle was something I couldn’t really prepare for, but all I know was I was pretty excited and curious to see how it all came together. Let me be the first to say that the moment I walked into the arena – it was electric. You could feel the energy of the community was infectious and that very moment when I peeled back the black curtains to take a seat in the stands I was completely taken by surprise. The production for this event was incredible – the scale, colossal. There I sat starring at multiple 50+ foot displays streaming live game content, two soundproof booths on the bottom floor filled with the players, crystal clear British accented play by play commentary and all the ambiance and bass from surround sound speakers you could ever imagine. At that moment, I realized this is bigger than video games, this is about the people. I delved right in, took my seat and was hooked.
I’ve been playing video games all my life and like so many people find a overwhelming joy in working a hard day in the real world then ultimately coming home and summersaulting into a digital realm of my choice. Graphics have always been the part that drew me in – the ability for these game designers to create vivid, realistic worlds that leave us in awe and wanting to explore every last corner to find any hidden gems and uncover easter eggs. Over time, it evolved into a love of exploring that content with friends. Maybe I’m showing my age by admitting this but it probably all started in nickel arcades playing games like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, X-Men, Streets of Rage & Contra. It evolved into a love of games like Diablo 2, Warcraft III, and then ultimately World of Warcraft. I was in love with the co-op element – getting together online and playing with friends. At its core, it goes back to a very human element of wanting to be included and wanting someone to share your excitement with even if its form is digital.
The scale of eSports continues to grow and break records – starting with the 10 million dollar community funded pot of The International 2015 for DoTA 2. Recently, ESPN jumped on board and agreed to broadcast the Heroes of the Storm college tournament better known as Heroes of the Dorm, which showcases Blizzard’s latest MoBA – or as they like to call it “Team Brawler.” Blizzard has promised to fund college educations for the entire winning team. That’s not only incredible by its cost but even more awesome for what it stands for. Video games for years have been rejected by the masses as unproductive and something leisure and is now a platform for gamers around the world to practice towards and accomplish a dream.
In the coming weeks, I’m hoping to find an audience who loves being inundated with news from eSports and coverage of the worlds biggest video game events from EVO to The International, BlizzCon and so much more. Stay tuned and check back in next week for more eSports coverage.