“Videogames are sports too!” said no one, until now.
eSports, or competitive videogames, are rising in popularity by the second.
Multiplayer online games like League of Legends are being played in championships all over the globe for monetary prizes and worldwide fame.
Sunday, May 11 marked the end of the Season Four All-Star Tournament and Invitational Competition hosted in Paris, France by Riot Games, the game’s creators.
League of Legends, also called League, is a strategy game where two teams of five players battle each other, using different characters to destroy their opponent’s base.
Players can buy items to become more powerful, grant them vision of a shadowed area of the map, or even heal damage from enemies.
There are also passive monsters hidden that will only attack when they are attacked, and other variables that make the game more exciting and unpredictable.
The League of Legends community congratulated South Korea Telecom T1 (SKT T1) for their victory over Chinese team OMG after the round robin and tournament, featuring North American team Cloud 9, European team Fnatic, and Taiwanese team Taipei Assassins.
These teams are widely regarded as the best in their regions, and because they are in different regions, this was the only time the fans could see them play against each other besides the World Championship Finals Tournament held at the end of each season.
eSport celebrities from the five regions that attended the tournament (North America, Europe, China, South Korea, and East Asia) were also voted on by the fans to represent the different regions and play different game modes for fun, such as Hexakill (six versus six), Pick-Ten (fans pick the champions played), and various one-on-one and two-on-two matchups.
The event was held in front of a live audience of people from all over the world, as well as streamed online for fans whose budget did not cover a trip to Paris.
It brought in an audience similar to that of the World Championship Finals tournament held in October 2013, which held a steady online audience of 32 million viewers, as well as the sold-out live audience at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
There, and at other events held live, fans cheer just as much as they would for “real sports,” along with the casters and analysts and referees who are also involved in these tournaments.
A monetary prize of $50,000 was given to SKT T1 after their victory, added with their cumulative prize of over two million dollars from winning the Season Three World Finals.
Riot Games is certainly no stranger to handling large pools of money from bets, as well as sponsorships from companies as big as Coke and HBO.
Large amounts of money and an exciting professional scene both have contributed greatly to the exponential growth in the game’s community and popularity, but the appeal of eSports does not end at money and fame.
Not only is the game’s community growing, but eSports such as League of Legends, Super Smash Brothers, and Starcraft are also growing in popularity, enough so that they could become Olympic events as soon as the 2020 summer games.
Videogames are usually regarded as a leisurely activity, and many claim that they cannot be sports because sports require physical activity.
These naysayers think videogames are as simple as picking up a controller or a mouse, and are easily mastered and learned, but that is not the case for League of Legends.
League of Legends is a fast-paced, intellectual game that requires high mental capacity and strategizing, both individually and as a team.
All members of a team must work together and be synchronized with one another, communicating with each other at all times and making split-second decisions as a unit.
Individual skill is equally as important as team communication.
A player must know how to play his role well, know when to play offensively or defensively, know what to buy to enhance abilities, and be able to fend for himself as well as help out the rest of his team.
One early mistake in either category can lead to disasters later on, and a small fault can become a huge advantage for the opponents.
You don’t need to be able to bench press 140 pounds or run a mile in six minutes to be successful in League of Legends or other eSports.
You need to be able to work as a team, and you need to know your opponents’ abilities and how to counteract them, and you need to know your role in the game and play it well, just like any other team sport.