Emergence of eSports marks new sporting era

Johnny Wozniak, Reporter

On Oct. 27, 2009, a game called “League of Legends” was made available for a free download from a gaming company called Riot. On that day, you could argue the age of “eSport” was born.

Since that fateful day in late October, the popularity of the game has exploded to levels never before seen for an online game. Currently, 27 million people play the game each day, on 67 million accounts. Both of those figures are steadily increasing.

The fan base of the game is a group of die-hard gamers. “League,” as it’s often called, is a game where you’re on a team of 5 versus 5, and your goal is to infiltrate the opponent’s base, and destroy the Nexus.

Pretty nerdy stuff here, am I right?

Sure, it’s not a game designed for people who play “Call of Duty” or “Destiny,” and it’s meant to be that way. League is a complex game with over 100 different champions to play as, and once you get in the game it only gets harder. From dealing with teammates from all over the world, to outclassing your opponent, the game is meant to be challenging.

That challenge has been faced by players all over the world.

By definition, an eSport is competitive gaming. Anything can be an eSport, but no eSport has captured the attention and popularity of the public that “League of Legends” has.

On Sept. 30, Riot and “League of Legends” will be hosting its World Championships, which will feature teams from North America, Korea, China, Brazil and Europe.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that the prize for the winning team is a nice, cool one million bucks.

Not too bad for playing a video game all day, right?

Of course, even in today’s society, there is a stigma around gamers. They stay at home all day and do nothing, are social outcasts, the list goes on and on. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Just like athletes from baseball or football, gamers are masters of their craft. They spend hours upon hours practicing to get better, hoping to see their hard work pay off. They end up making a solid source of income as well from sponsorship and people watching their streams.

The sacrifice some League players make is tremendous. With many being in their early 20s, a lot of players have chosen to play the game competitively rather than stick with school. Unfortunately, League only just recently made itself available for college play, awarding the winning team scholarship money.

Players are skipping a chance at a higher education, and still get looked down upon from other athletes, but why?

I understand it doesn’t seem like much to sit on your computer and all day and play a silly little game, but to a lot of people, it’s much more than that.

League is an escape for a lot of people. When players log onto their account, their troubles can just go away, even if it’s just for a little. The opportunity to meet people from around the world and forge friendships with them is something that’s rare in today’s day and age, but when you play a game online, it can happen to you.

The era of video games as sport is upon us, and it’s captured the sporting world’s attention.

Marc Cuban, billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, has recognized the potential and has invested around seven million dollars in the industry. ESPN has aired video game championships. Last year, 27 million people watched the League of Legends World Championships, and that number is expected to grow this year.