Andrew Brennan is the Competitive Team Organizer for Stony Brook’s League of Legends Club.
“They had their quarterback as a wide receiver on 4th down? That’s crazy!”
“They had their Karma as a marksman with Trinity Force? That’s crazy!”
The two sentences above both involve a game with many other players, both involve an unorthodox act in their respective domains and both involve a team of players who have to rely on each other’s actions to win their game. The difference? I’m sure 75 percent of you knew at least part of the first sentence, but at least 75 percent of you didn’t understand the second sentence at all (AD Karma OP?).
League of Legends is an online computer game where two teams of five try to destroy all of the objectives in their opponent’s base, and is also the most likely context in which you would be hearing that second sentence. Currently, the World Championship is taking place in Europe, and as the Competitive Team Organizer for our school’s League Club I have been closely watching for strengths or tactics within the game that my teams can utilize to place farther in tournaments.
Nope, you did not read that wrong folks. Competitive Team Organizer.
Now I would never think of myself as a “pro gamer” just because I’ve played games since I was 5-years-old, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s that in our current society, eSports has nowhere near the amount of recognition that it should. League of Legends alone has a prize pool of over $2 million across the 16 best teams in the world for its world championship, and the recently passed Major League Gaming finals had a prize pool of over $13.5 million across multiple different competitive games. Not to mention, the current League of Legends tournament I’m organizing for, the North American Collegiate Championship, is a university-exclusive tournament that gives out scholarships of $30,000 to the first place team of players.
eSports, a common acronym for electronic sports, includes a variety of games, ranging from first person shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty, to fighting games like Super Smash Bros, and MOBA’s (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) like League of Legends and Dota 2. There’s a basic explanation I use to explain why gamers can get so into the idea of eSports so quickly:
“Many other sports, I look at somebody and be like ‘Man, that looked really hard to execute. But then you see pro players in LCS (League Championship Series) and there’s only so much that a champion can do, so you’re like, ‘I can do that!’”
Not everyone can wake up in the morning and kick a 30-yard field goal just because they saw Josh Brown do it on TV, but in an eSport, where every player is given the exact same tools as anyone else, there’s only so many differences in what can be done by the six-figure pro player and myself. But the reverse end of things also leaves players at a disadvantage. While football players can train to become stronger and reach farther distances and greater speeds, the regulation of what can be done by a player in eSports leads to an extreme reliance on reflexes and timing to pull off those six-figure moves, sometimes going down to a few milliseconds. So in the same way you won’t kick 30 yards your first try, you won’t automatically be the number one player your first time loading in.
There’s a reason that not everyone who has an Xbox Live account is a pro-gamer, in the same way that there’s a reason not everyone who owns a football is an NFL player. Every eSport takes as much time and practice as a traditional sport. It has standard rules and regulations and has teams and respective fan bases, just like any other sport. Yet so many people won’t even give eSports a second glance, labeling it as just another video game that people will get over. The game itself may not last, but eSports itself won’t be leaving anytime soon.
So why not take a look into our world? See what eSports truly are, and if you feel like giving it a try, you’re more than welcome to. Trust me, we won’t bite. Although I can’t guarantee someone won’t call you a noob.