Chances are if you have a tween or teen they spend a considerable amount of time playing video games. It also means they are probably familiar with eSports. However, that does not mean you are familiar with eSports games or what eSports entails. So what exactly is eSports and why are your kids into it? Here’s the lowdown on eSports games, including everything you need to know to be in the know and impress your kids.
What exactly is eSports?
To put it plainly, eSports is the term for organized, competitive video gaming. Gamers play video games against each other in organized tournaments for money. Lots of money actually. You can think about it as professional gaming. Depending on the particular tournament or event, participants can be amateur or professional players. Some tournaments can even be played online from a player’s home computer or gaming console. Other tournaments require players to all be in one place to compete in front of a crowd. Those types of tournaments usually involve high-profile eSports games and players.
An Overview of eSports Games
Most popular eSports games usually fall into certain categories: fighter games, first-person shooter games, third-person shooter games, multiplayer online battle arena games, real-time strategy games, racing games, and sports games.
Fighter eSports games include Street Fighter and Super Smash Brothers. First-person shooter eSports games are games like Call of Duty, Halo, and Overwatch, while third-person shooter games are games like the ever-popular Fortnite. Multiplayer online battle arena eSports games include League of Legends and real-time strategy eSports games are games like StarCraft. Racing eSports games include an annual video game competition hosted by NASCAR called the NASCAR iRacing.com World Championship Series. Finally, sports eGames include the NBA 2K, Madden, and FIFA series of games.
The Origins and Evolution of eSports
eSports have grown in popularity during the 2000s, but eSports games technically go all the way back to the 1970s. The first officially recorded video game competition was held at Stanford University in October 1972 and consisted of students from the University competing against each other in a video game called Spacewar. Eight years later, an eSports game competition made it to the mainstream when Atari held its first Space Invaders Championship in 1980 with over 10,000 players competing. Although the term eSports did not exist yet, competitive gaming was born.
With the release of Atari, video games were no longer restricted to arcades. Then as other companies like Nintendo and Sega released video game consoles in the 1980s, gaming became more and more popular. In the early ’90s, Nintendo held their own competitive gaming championship called The Nintendo World Championships.
The Internet and online gaming allowed for a shift in gameplay. Now you could play video games against people all over the world while sitting at your computer. By the end of the 1990s, some of the first eSports leagues were founded and what many consider to be the first real eSports competition took place. That competition was called The Red Annihilation. Over 2,000 players competed in one-on-one competitions over the Internet in a game called Quake. The top 16 players were then brought to Atlanta, Georgia to compete at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
From there, eSports exploded in the 2000s with the ever-growing popularity of video games and online gaming. By the 2010s, hundreds of eSports games and competitions were taking place within a single year.
eSports Leagues and Tournaments
Today, eSports is made up of a number of professional leagues and tournaments. eSports competitions are held by video game developers and by groups like the Electronic Sports League that organizes professional leagues and tournaments all over the world for the most popular eSports games. There are also countless qualifier competitions and minor leagues organized by smaller groups. Many eSports leagues are organized like a traditional sports league with full seasons, playoffs, and finals events.
Each league typically centers around a particular game. The Overwatch League, for example, runs an international year-round Overwatch competition. There are numerous League of Legends leagues, several FIFA leagues for the popular soccer eSports game, a Halo league, a Call of Duty league, and countless others.
There are now also a number of traditional sporting organizations partnering up with game developers to create new eSports leagues. The NBA 2K League, centered around the basketball-themed NBA 2K game, is supported by the NBA to the extent that it held a draft for the launch of its inaugural league. During the draft, 102 professional eSports players were selected with all the fanfare you would see in a traditional NBA draft.
Most eSports games are physical events where players and teams play live in front of an audience. These events are also live-streamed to millions of viewers around the world. There are a number of online tournaments as well. They usually offer smaller prizes than the big, highly publicized live competitions as they often act as qualifiers to a bigger main event.
eSports has even made it to college. More than 50 colleges have varsity eSports programs that award thousands of dollars in scholarship prize money to competition winners.
eSports is a billion-dollar industry and players can make considerable amounts of money. Tournaments often boast millions of dollars in prize money and the best eSports players can easily earn seven figures a year. Players also earn money from sponsorships, endorsements, and team salaries.
Professional gamers (or pro gamers as the kids call them) are often associated with eSports teams. Teams like FaZe Clan, OpTic Gaming, Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid, Cloud9, Fnatic, Mineski, and Counter Logic Gaming consist of several pro gamers and compete in tournaments all over the world. Some teams specialize in one or two games, but most teams compete in multiple eSports games within a tournament or league, with different teams for each game. Just like in traditional sports, pro gamers have their specialties. Teams may also have a single player representing them in one-on-one eSports games.
Like traditional athletes, eSports athletes put in a lot of time training. They study strategies and any updates for the eSports games in which they specialize. Then they practice and practice and practice. Teams practice for 50 hours a week or more. That is more time than a full-time job.
Your kids probably know a lot of these gamers, their teams, and everything there is to know about the eSports games they play. eSports is not like traditional sports in lots of ways, but it is a seriously competitive, ever-growing sport that takes insane amounts of practice, lots of strategy, and teamwork. So next time your kids are talking about the upcoming Fortnite tournament or want to watch the League of Legends Championship Series, you can impress them with your eSports knowledge.
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Sources: What is eSports?, What is eSports? A look at an explosive billion-dollar industry, The History of Esports
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