Opinion: esports legitimize gaming

Crowds are roaring next to you, adrenaline is pumping and your throat is aching from how much you have screamed. You cannot imagine being at a more heart-pumping event. 

Everyone loves the feeling of cheering on your team at a game. However, what if this was a video game that you were watching on a screen, with the players down on the event floor? To some, it may come as a surprise that gaming fans would be far more excited to be in that environment than in a stadium of a more conventional sport. esports provide gamers with a community of like minded people who are passionate about the same game, which is absolutely a great thing.

The esports market has grown exponentially over the past few years. More people are watching and attending the events, prize pools are vastly larger than before and the industry itself is being taken more seriously. Fans are coming together to support the games they love, and it feels amazing to be in that environment.

I am going to focus in on a game called “League of Legends,” arguably the most popular esport game at the moment. LoL, as it is often referred to, operates professional leagues in multiple countries. Each year the top teams from the regions meet to participate in the League of Legends World Championship. This past year, 24 teams competed for a prize pool of $4,072,101. However, this is not even the most impressive number. The World Championship this year was played in China, and got 73,552,909 views. The average amount of viewers at any given moment, excluding Chinese viewers, was 519,144.

With this high amount of viewership, it is not a surprise that the industry is growing. The North American league this year introduced franchising, a team buy-in system that will help cement teams into the league.

 This makes the league more stable, investments more sound and merchandising more profitable. Three NBA teams, the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets, have already bought into the new franchised league. These teams, as well as other NBA teams, have recognized the potential in the esports market and have been able to make money off investments in the esports world. From investments, merchandising and player renown, esports has become very profitable.

esports is a growing industry that is great for people all across the globe. Many people across the world do not find a connection to conventional sports. I think League of Legends provides a great professional league that people can invest time, money and passion into. I know personally I watch many of the pro games and am absolutely invested in its growth. Not only is it respectable that players are providing entertainment and a new market growth, but they also serve as role models for many young gamers. 

The creators of LoL, as well as many other esport games, take pride in their ability to create an environment that allows gaming fans all over the world to feel a part of a community. In my opinion, there can be no greater achievement for a video game than to bring people together by their love of the game. If football brings fans of its game together, then eSports can easily bring in fans of its own. The stigma that gaming is childish must go away — gaming is becoming a powerhouse industry ripe with growth and the promise of legitimacy as a worldwide sport. 

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