eSports is the short and easy way of saying electronic sports, which is far more classy than saying professional video games. If you walk into a bar, and someone asks you your passion, and you say eSports; even if they do not know what that means, the fact that sports is in there will at least let your conversation start at indifferent with them.
The majority of people are not familiar with what eSports are, or what interest there is in playing them. Very few people in my experience can look at something they have never seen before and instantly understand what is going on. If you open a book you have never read before, and start reading in the middle, chances are you will be lost when people reference past events or dead fictional characters. How do you learn who they are? You start at the beginning, and the author tells you what is going on. We plan to do something similar; if no one explains something, how are we to understand it? So, we will explain the world of eSports.
First, let’s start with the basics. eSports are people playing video games professionally. There are quite a few games that are played professionally, Starcraft, League of Legends, Quake, and Street Fighter, to name a few. In later articles, we will go more into detail for each game, for now a general overview should suffice. The games are spectator sports. Sit a few people down to watch a game, and chances are, there will be cheering, drinking, and betting. There may be some people passing out too, but if they did not, it would not feel appropriate. This may be a similar experience for people watching a baseball or football game, but the game does not matter. It is the crowd that matters.
If you go to a bar to watch a football game, there will probably be a few others there, drinking and cheering for their teams. If during the last minute, the ball is intercepted, and then taken 90 yards away for a touchdown to win the game, there is bound to be an uproar. People get excited when they see cool stuff, this is true for everyone. Some people may be louder than others, but it is the people that make a sport a sport, not the players. The players play the game, but if no one is watching, why pay them to play? There need to be fans willing to pay to see them play, and therein lies, truly, in what it takes to make a sport.
In sports, people watch games, and at the end of a season you have a major face-off between teams. Why stop there? There are some big differences between sports and eSports, it is these differences that change how things are done.
As Victor Goossens, the founder and manager of Team Liquid, a notable Starcraft team said in an interview, “A regular sports athlete can only train a few hours every day, and usually does not train at all the day of a match. This is not because they don’t want to, it’s because the human body cannot handle training athletic sports 14 hours a day. In gaming, however, your body will not give up on you very easily, so to be at the top of the StarCraft: Brood War (and StarCraft II as well, though to a lesser degree) scene, you would have to play 12-14 hours daily.”
To be at the top, eSports players have to train and play for long hours daily, but this is partially because gaming is a mental sport. Video games do not require much physical prowess, it is mental prowess that largely determines how well a player will do. A concept that is almost the exact opposite of regular sports, which require great physical prowess. This does not mean that people that play sports are idiots, that would be rude, and likely false. Each team has a manager to take care of the mental games that get played and to counter the opposing teams plans.
Consider this, in a football game, the players play the game against each other, doing their duties as necessary. However, if one side changes their strategy, it is up to the opposing team to counter, or lose. In this aspect, eSports are quite similar. eSports involve the player doing the thinking and manipulation in the game that they are playing. They inform their ‘side’ what to do, and the programming for the game follows it.
In football, you have the coach, or the manager, or whomever it is that changes plays on the fly, to do the thinking and planning, while the players on the team follow their training, their “programming” to do what is necessary to counter. They go back and forth, changing plays and outmaneuvering their opponents on the field, while in the digital world, two players are doing the same thing.
How are things different then? Apart from the physical and mental aspect, and where the games take place? The competitions. Sports typically have seasons, and multiple games against multiple teams are fought for half the year. This is only because the body can only handle a few hours a day. The mind is far tougher, and can handle 12-14 hours a day doing high stress, high intensity work.
Instead of many months playing against different teams, eSports does it in a weekend. What? Yes, a weekend. eSports does tournaments instead. There are many tournaments around the year that people train for to play in. While there are a few huge gaming events and tournaments, it is still exactly that, a tournament. The different ways that games are played allow for different ways of doing things.