We could say that eSports is the hot topic all throughout the gaming community. The word means Electronic Sports, where there are organized teams competing against one another in tournaments. There are many organizations that host these games and tournaments, too many for one single article to list, so we’ll not go there. Just about every game that you can imagine which pits players against one another has a competitive community where eSports is a present topic – a lot of newer multiplayer games coming out are even being made with eSports in mind, which is pretty awesome.
Some of the larger titles which boast active and well known competitive scenes are Team Fortress 2, Counter-Strike, League of Legends, SMITE, Hearthstone and Dota 2. There are many other games that see competitive play, however, these are the titles which bring in the most viewers. Many gamers don’t have the desire or time to put in to obtain the level of skill required to play with the best of the best which may be why the scene receives so much attention. Professional gamers must sacrifice a lot of time and energy to reach and hold their ability to compete amongst the best, and depending on their performance and placement in a tournament, are rewarded fairly.
The idea of professional gaming tournaments sprouted from miniature local tournaments back in the days of DOOM being the biggest hit game and grows daily. Online streaming continues to regularly attract more and more viewers to watch people play games at all levels of play whether it be for entertainment purposes or professional play. Twitch being the more renowned website for this service shows off tournaments for games of all genres. With the attention Twitch has received, along with other sites that share the same concept, professional gaming was a dream that many started to have. Organizations are able to host internet events where teams can compete for larger cash pools than ever before from the amount of traffic the stream receives on days that they are hosting tournaments.
If this is the first time you are hearing of eSports, then you may assume that these professional players are only just getting by moneywise; however, that would be quite wrong. Tournaments, depending on the game, are being hosted regularly with cash payouts that are pretty huge for how often they occur. The two most active games in the eSports community are Counter Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends. Counter Strike has a lot more tournaments playing out, going on at one time, which can range from a few thousand dollars for first place to hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the case of League of Legends, although the tournaments are less frequent, they last longer and payout more, especially their final event, World Championship, which pays out one million dollars to the first place team. The SMITE World Championship 2015 also had a prize pool of $2,612,260, with the first place taking the nice amount of $1,306,130 USD.
This must be every gamers dream job, right?
With the money surrounding competitive play, being a professional gamer has become a dream to many of the fans. Even though the idea may seem fun to most, many don’t realize the sacrifices that these players must make to reach such a goal. A professional gamer’s job is never secure. Teams may replace someone who is underperforming; the players must be willing to practice rigorously sometimes up to 12 hours a day, for many months, as well. If one falls ill before a tournament, there is no backing out or calling in sick. It has been reported that many who have played in the competitive scene left it because they wanted to seek a relationship with someone, imagine trying to juggle 12 hours a day practicing with no major distractions and having a partner – many can’t handle the two together, rightfully so, it’s stressful.
With the growth of social media and how much you get to know the players behind the scenes the eSports scene has made professional players celebrities within the gaming community. Some teams became huge labels that branch out into other competitive games, not just the one they originally premiere with. TSM (Team Solomid) and Cloud 9 are two of the most well known names for hosting teams on multiple game genres successfully.
When you play on a team, you represent the organization which runs it. Many players are held to a certain level of responsibility to the community for representing good behavior. As a gamer sometimes you want to just yell out of frustration but, when so many people are watching you, doing so could have many repercussions. Trash talking is usually avoided, simply because of the backlash and potential loss of followers one may receive. Every single thing that a player does in a tournament, or says on social media, will be used against them. These players are under constant threat from fans and due to the age that these players usually are, can be extremely hard to handle and cope with which is why teams tend to have a coach to help them out.
Unfortunately, with so many positives and negatives within the professional gaming community, one area that has been causing a lot of drama is match fixing. Certain sites began popping up all around that allow viewers to place bets on games. Due to the early stages of gambling on these games, and the waves of attention as of late surrounding them, players have found that they are able to fix matches or throw them without any major repercussions as many of these sites aren’t even labeled as gambling, therefore don’t require the people gambling to be 18 or older. Counter Strike: Global Offensive has had a top tier team crumble over it with many other players being banned from professional play making many question the integrity of eSports altogether. DotA 2, another major eSports title, has had some issues similar to which but has not, as of yet, gotten as out of hand as the aforementioned.
Scandals happen everywhere, as eSports grows so will the awareness and the community surrounding it. Games are also coming out regularly and expected to see the professional level of play which we are all excited for. What’s your stance on eSports and the professional level of gaming? As for me, I am going to continue watching these tournaments as it is a thrilling experience to witness your favorite teams rise and fall.
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By Michael Hack