Hey there, the name’s Ryan. Most people refer to me as Marty though, and a few as Martimas, nice to meet you all! I figured for my first article for TFTB, I’d talk about something that I personally love, but is honestly pretty controversial in the sports world.
What is eSports? Essentially, it’s professional video games, ranging from sports (NBA 2K League for example) to MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arenas, such as League of Legends) to shooters (such as Call of Duty) to some others as well. Some are huge, some are more obscure, but one thing is for certain. They are here to stay.
I personally have been a huge fan of sports my entire life, I played football for 13 years, and hockey for at least 9, and still going strong with hockey. So I’m heavily ingrained in the sports world, but at the same time, I’ve always been a nerd. Being an IT professional for my job, it sort of goes hand in hand. That being said, I’ve always been into video games. It’s a pretty big mainstay for my generation and on, and I was introduced my freshman year of high school to the North American League Championship Series (NALCS).
The NALCS has actually become the LCS (League Championship Series) and is specific to North America. It’s part of a worldwide competition run by Riot Games, with leagues being run in Europe, China, Korea, Brazil, etc. Let’s just say it’s massive, with the 2018 World Championship being held at the Incheon Munhak Stadium in South Korea. For anyone who might be curious what that is, it was a stadium used for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Kinda wild huh? A video game filling a World Cup stadium. To make it more close to home, the LCS Finals (it was NALCS at the time) have been held in and sold out Madison Square Garden, Air Canada Centre, Pacific Coliseum and other locations. Big, well known sports arenas. Needless to say, the LCS is a huge NA phenomenon, but it’s not the only one.
NA is becoming home to a number of franchised leagues, becoming closer and closer to traditional sports. The LCS is franchised, with teams having backing and ownership from multiple notable sources. For example, one of my favorite teams, 100 Thieves, is backed by Rocket Mortgage, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Scooter Braun and even Drake. Yeah, the rapper Drake. Multiple teams are backed by other sports teams, such as the Golden Guardians. They are owned by, which could probably be easily guessed, the Golden State Warriors. The LCS isn’t the only league with franchising. The other massive noticeable league is the Overwatch League (OWL). This league is even closer to traditional sports, with teams being based on cities, spanning the world. In addition to that, coming in 2020, the Call of Duty World League (CWL) will be transitioning to a franchise as well. Franchising is a huge step, and it leads to a big fact.
eSports are here, and they are here to stay. Yeah, the definitely get some hate from traditional sports fans, with those fans claiming they aren’t “sports”, they are just nerds sitting behind a computer screen, blah blah blah. They may not be traditional, physical sports, but the amount of time these teams put into practicing, strategizing, studying games and replays to see what went wrong, etc, speaks otherwise of it not being a sport. The same steps traditional sports teams go through. Just because something isn’t traditional and breaks the mold, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. So newsflash to the fans who have the desire to rip on eSports: get used to them.
With eSports making it on to ABC via the OWL, making ESPN’s top 10 highlights, and salaries of players reaching 7 figures (not to mention the average base salary of LCS players being $320k according to Forbes), they should probably just accept it for what it is. If ya don’t like it, don’t watch it. No matter what, they aren’t going anywhere.
I’ll touch on the big eSports leagues in the coming weeks, so until then, stay tuned, friends.
Martimas Prime, rolling out.