Electronic sports or eSports is a growing phenomenon amongst the millennial generation that awards and acknowledges video game excellence with cash prizes and even global recognition. The Internet, X-Box Live and the Playstation Network have connected passionate gamers across the globe and pitted them against each other in popular competitions and tournaments that revolve around first person shooters (FPS), sports games and massively-multiplayer online games (MMOG). Although not officially acknowledged as a conventional sport, eSports requires superb hand-eye-coordination, communication skills, consistency and mental stamina like basketball, baseball and football, but without the physicality. Dominant gamers have even become iconized overnight through their victories in tournament play and for overall authority within their game genre. Here is an overview of the most prominent professional gaming tournaments and companies/organizations that populate the pixelated universe that is eSports.
Black Ops II has garnered a strong, committed and some would say obsessive following of gamers who devout hours of gameplay to the FPS daily. Activision has recognized their devoted fan base and is giving gamers across the globe an opportunity to compete in a Black Ops II tournament for a $1M cash pool. The event will be streamed live worldwide from Hollywood, CA, April 5-7 as 32 teams of four players will square off on the ultimate gamer stage. First place earns $400,000 and only the top eight teams will finish in the money. Registration has already begun via Xbox Live as teams strive to win a spot in the $1M tourney.
Major League Gaming (MLG)
MLG is a professional eSport organization that hosts official game tournaments in the United States and Canada through yearly Pro Circuit rosters. To compete in various seasonal tournaments players must buy passes available on the MLG website, but free and live streaming for viewers is provided and includes commentary and analysis. This year MLG offers gamers the chance to compete and watch daily tournaments in Black Ops II, League of Legends, Starcraft II and Halo 4. Past game rosters have included Super Smash Brothers Melee, Tekken 5, Gears of War and Call of Duty 4. No matter the game MLG has slowly elevated computer and console games as a sustainable form of entertainment and competition.
League of Legends is a five-on-five, team based battle arena and strategy game that is played in 35-45 minute intervals. Live streaming competitions are popular globally, especially throughout the United States and Europe, but receive such rave recognition in Korea that matches have been streamed and broadcast in primetime. Cash tournaments have consistently been held, but profound League of Legends gamers now have the chance to earn a salary through an official season, playoff and championship run. The $5M dollar prize pool has even enabled some players to quit their day jobs and play video games for a living.
Virgin Gaming, EA Sports and Gamestop have all conjoined to sponsor the 2013 EA Sports Challenge Series $1M tournament. The games will include Madden NFL 2013, NHL 2013 and FIFA 2013 and will begin online and conclude with the finals in Las Vegas, NV. Upon registering, players will initially have to win four games to qualify and then compete in the semi-finals to reach the illustrious championships. The sports game tournament is exclusive for the Playstation 3 and will include a $500 cash prize for the lucky 640 that make the finals.
When the long awaited StarCraft II was released in July 2010 it smashed the competition and sold 721,000 units during the game’s first week of release. Since then StarCraft II has only grown in popularity and has hosted a series of official tournaments including The StarCraft II World Championship Series in 2012. Gamers can earn up to hundreds of thousands of dollars through competing, and the tournament has developed a thriving following online. eSports has rapidly evolved since its inception in the early 2000s. Gamers now have the opportunity to compete on a global stage for millions of dollars because of their skill, persistence and dedication. The popularity continues to grow and embrace a global demographic and is easily accessible to anyone with a computer, console and Internet connection. As gamers age and the competitions develop, eSports just might be on its way to becoming a world recognized sport.