It used to be the case that only the physically gifted would become sports stars. You know the types, those high school kids who were tall, muscular, and put in hours and hours of training to become world famous Olympians, basketball stars, Formula One drivers, or anything in between. Now, however, the tide has turned. In a world where hand-eye coordination is more important than how fast you can run or how much you can lift, eSports (electronic sports) has allowed millions of people to compete in tournaments around the world and earn some massive paychecks in the process.
But before you ditch school and regular sports altogether, know that a life of playing professional computer games is competitive beyond your wildest dreams. Like any sport, because the margin of success is incredibly thin, you don’t just have to be good at a game, you have to be flawless. When tournament prize money is in the millions and sell-out crowds applaud and jeer your every move, you’d best be prepared for the trials and tribulations that await an eSports player.
This is not the place for names like Mario, Sonic, or Zelda, this is where titles like Overwatch, DOTA 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and League of Legends rule the eSports landscape. Understanding that eSports has gone way beyond simply an amusing hobby and evolved into a legitimate business, Vice magazine released a captivating five-part series on just how important eSports has become.
New Opportunities For eSports Players
Slowly but surely, eSports has started to break out of its corner and seep into the mainstream – eSports is here, and it’s here to stay. Companies are rapidly becoming aware of the business openings that eSports and online gaming in general can give them. For one, the notion of a clan website being easy to set up is something that could resonate strongly with gamers, as a sense of community and expansion is clearly important in eSports. This is evidence that this isn’t a shameful hobby to be kept secret, but instead a lifestyle with a visible audience attached to it, one that is proud and excited about how they spend their time.
Funnily enough, the success of eSports has begun to infiltrate the world of real, physical sports. The McLaren F1 team has offered a job of simulator driver to an eSports competition winner, and the NBA has partnered with 2K to deliver a brand new eSports basketball league. The prospects for young online players is only growing day by day, as classes or even entire schools dedicated to eSports is not an uncommon sight.
Where Can eSports Go From Here?
In a nutshell? A long, long way. The industry is expected to reach $1.5 billion by 2020, as more and more is spent on advertising and media rights. As well, players don’t just earn money from tournament wins, they are commonly sponsored by computer, clothing, and energy drink companies, in addition to gaining significant salaries from online streaming service Twitch.
To give an idea of the scope at which eSports is growing, League of Legends jumped from 67 million monthly active users in 2014 to well over 100 million in 2016. Interestingly, only 10 of those players will compete for the League of Legends World Championship, when a 5×5 final takes place in an arena in front of a sea of screaming fans.
A debate currently rages on whether we can truly call these players ‘athletes.’ They are competing, after all, simply not in the physical way that we’re used to. But if you’re going to change your mind, change it now. eSports will only continue to grow, and it’s only a matter of time before the whole world knows about it. There is even a discussion happening as to whether eSports should have a section in future Olympics – a true sign that pro gaming is ready to be taken seriously.
There may have been a time when these players would have been called computer geeks or losers, but when fame and fortune can be had by the winning teams, there is every right for them to be called genuinely talented celebrities. It appears that playing computer games can pay off for some after all.
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