What do you think of when I say sports? Maybe you think of football, rugby, or tennis. All of these are seen as classic sports and all of them have been around for hundreds of years. They are so popular that leagues have been formed and players earn millions of dollars every year from playing.  Now, what do you think of when I say Video Games? This time your thought might go to Mario Brothers, Zelda, or World of Warcraft. All three perfectly normal responses, they are all games, very good ones in fact and they are all extremely popular. The thing is, you might see these as two different categories, after all, Video Games could never be an actual sport, right? But that’s where you would be wrong. It already is one and that is what we are going to explore today. What are esports?



What are esports?

An esport is a video game that people compete in and have tournaments around.  Today esports is a very normal thing in the gaming world. There are competitions almost every weekend, most notably League of Legend’s LCS and CSGO’s ESL, and these bring in thousands of viewers from all over the world. The first big esport is often credited to Starcraft, a strategy focused game that took Korea by storm. The game was so popular that large arenas were filled with fans wanting to watch their favorite player. Today esports are thriving and to put things into perspective the last big Fortnite tournament had a prize pool of 3 million dollars(!). Despite this, I still find people around me that don’t actually know what esports are. Therefore I wrote this article for you to share and read as an explanation of esports and what actually makes them sports.



Starcraft II

Starcraft II–Picture by Blizzard Ent.

A Sport After All

Google defines the word ” sport” as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” This definition breaks up the word sport into three important criteria, Entertainment, Competition, and Physical Exertion. You could call these concepts the foundation of what all sports are built upon, from football to tennis. How do these apply to esports then? Let’s start with the easy ones.

Entertainment

This one is not very hard to answer, after all, all games are made to be entertaining. Otherwise, companies wouldn’t make any money from them. However, over the last 10 years, we have seen a change in gaming. Entertainment in games is no longer just you alone. You have creators, streaming and making videos, fans, cosplaying and watching, and much more. Gaming has evolved from being a thing you do when you’re bored at home to a lifestyle, a way to find friends, and to express yourself.


Competition

As long as there are two people in the world there are going to be competitions. Let’s face it we like to compete, after all, nothing is better than betting your family at Monopoly. Naturally, this applies to Video Games too. I remember when I was younger and I competed with my brother in Mario Brothers. Then online multiplayer came, this amazing innovation made you able to play against players who weren’t your family (amazing!). A new era began with online gaming turning into a ground for players to show their true skill and this is what eventually turned into conventions and competitions with teams from all over the world. These competitions aren’t small either with some having hundreds of thousands of viewers and millions in prize pools. The League of Legends world finals brought in more viewers than the entire Super Bowl.

Fighting Game Competition

Photo courtesy of Robert Paul

Physical Exertion

Here is the part many people complain about. “It’s not a sport if you don’t do anything physically challenging” is the most common remark on esports. Yes, the players sit down in front of a computer screen the whole game. But even though these people aren’t moving much, they are still doing something that is incredibly physically challenging. They have to be on point the whole game. If they slip up just one time the whole game can be ruined for their team. Have you ever tried being hyperfocused for 50 minutes straight? It’s exhausting. These players train mentally every time they step up on that stage. Not only that but these players have some of the fastest reaction times in the world and they train about 12 hours a day to become as good as they are.



Day 2 at 2018 NA LCS Spring Promotion Tournament in Los Angeles, California, USA on 12 August 2017.

Conclusion

Esports are actual sports. They are video games that have evolved into something more, something fans from all over the world can enjoy. In conclusion, esports stand on the three pillars that make up a sport: entertainment, competition, and physical exertion. It is entertaining to watch the players compete and use all their physical abilities to the max. They might be playing a game, but isn’t all sports games from the start?

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