The World Wide Web of eSports

February 5, 2013 2:19 pm

League-of-LegendsGet ready to play – Season 3 of League of Legends Championship Series is about to begin amid much excitement and anticipation. Not sure what that is? No, neither was I until today. League of Legends is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) video game created by Riot Games; the Championship Series is its competitive league. Dubbed eSports, the gaming industry are beginning their global conquest which may one day rival competitive physical sports and so far, they’ve done pretty well. I’ll put it into perspective for you; Season 2 of the Championship Series managed to gross 8.2 million viewers on their live internet stream, and South Korea’s OGN finals, which was also the number one search on Google in the country for a week, sold its 8,000 stadium tickets in just 43 minutes. People give up their jobs for the opportunity to play in the league, with Riot Games offering competitive salaries to the best players in order to encourage them to do so, as well as impressive cash prizes for winners of high-profile tournaments. A few of the best players are worth millions.  

It has become so much more than a cult or a hobby. For some people, it is their life. In fact, it is estimated that there is only a matter of years before eSports (so aptly named in our 21st century culture! Anything that is anything these days never seems to begin with a capital letter, but with a vowel) make their way onto mainstream television. Perhaps what we are experiencing here is something not dissimilar to the rise of football and the English football league.

With Season 3, like with the seasons before it, came changes to the League of Legends game that are experienced by all gamers, just like football experiences new signings and sometimes better technology (like goal line technology, for example). The start of a new season is a massive event for both competitions. Fans who play the game and watch the Championship Series experience the same emotions as football fans; achievement, adrenaline rushes, hope, loyalty, and sorrow if all is lost.

league of legends championship seriesMy brother, who is a big fan, calls it ‘amazing’. He plays almost every day with his friends. The game, he claims, has taught him skills such as micro and macro-management and has also improved his reaction times. The best players have these skills in abundance. Like football, professionals practice every day for hours on end, they work as a team to win, and they acquire their very own loyal fans. Rivalries, eerily similar to football, between teams can become deep-rooted and severe, though in Europe most teams are typically of mixed nationalities and so this opposition is less intense than those in China, South Korea and America.
Children, possibly due to our increasingly protective society, are becoming more likely to stay inside and play video games with their friends rather than play football outdoors, and that is a forum for which League of Legends caters for. There is still the capacity to have a rivalry with that team who lives on the other side of town and the chance to grow in skill at something that leads to feelings of satisfaction and achievement. Once you reach a certain stage in the game, you can personalise your play by excelling in a particular position, just like in football. Not only children, but many adults across the globe share in this experience; the only natural course for the eSport would be to develop and expand.

esportsHowever, similar issues are rising within the world of eSports that were encountered when football rose to popularity and became professionally played. Women seem to have a minimal role within this world, with very few professional female players, commentators or even journalists; it is an issue that needs to be carefully approached and quickly resolved so that the sport does not develop in such a one-sided way. Racism is another highly concerning issue within the League of Legends world, as is hacking. Riot Games does their best to police this and stop ‘toxic’ players running amok by giving gamers the ability to report rogue players. Too many complaints can lead to tribunals and the distribution of warnings, time bans, or even a permanent ban. Still, it is difficult to stop those people who are banned from making new accounts and wreaking havoc once again; game profiles are not typically assigned to an identifiable face. Clearly, with this new phenomenon comes problems that need addressing.

After trying the game myself, I was surprised by how engaging it is. Of course, unlike football, no physical exercise is undertaken yet eSports such as League of Legends seem to have their own advantages, which help to cast aside the image of ‘geekiness’ that is so closely associated with excessive video gaming. It is also worth noting how closely the rise of eSports seem to mirror the evolution of football; perhaps what we must consider at this crucial time in their development is the mistakes of football, which we can learn from in order to create a better, fairer gaming community for all. After all, one day you may turn on the sports channel to find the League of Legends Championship Series staring back at you.

  • Adrian

    Good article my friend. 🙂 /Guy from the League community!

  • DeFuZe21

    as a regular player of Leage I thought this article was phenomenal. You brought up good points about the game and eSports in general with only knowing about this for a short amount of time.

  • Jose Sanchez

    Came here from reddit! Nice article, keep up the good work!

  • Yesm

    Great Article!!!!

  • tef

    bad text, learn more about jornalism

    • Zerb

      Learn to write “Journalism” correctly before you criticize someone else’s writing.

      • mrman


  • Smooth711

    Nice article! Biased LoL player here of course, but none the less, well written.

  • Lesar

    Loved it!

  • Zebedee Blacklock

    eSports already is a regular part of programming in some regions of the world, the Korean StarCraft scene is absolutely phenomenal as is their LoL scene and it is a regularly televised event with monthly LAN tournaments that are truely something to behold. In China DotA is almost a national sport and that too is regularly featured on television, take the recent G-League for example.

    In America too MLG is already on television and unless I’m not mistaken Quake and CS have both been featured on television too.

    Nice article but you’re really taking a very narrow view of it, eSports is much larger than League of Legends.

  • ILift

    HoN > LoL

  • Someone redirected me here from a League stream. I couldn’t be more thankful. Awesome article, well writen and it grasps the emotions behind the game so well. Sadly, it is true about women in this game, but I have met many female players like me throughout my years playing (I started playing 1 month after the launch of the game). Hopefully there will be a women’s league in the future 🙂

  • Shylar

    The esport scene doesn’t only concern MOBA and RTS, fps is also a big part of it, counterstrike 1.6, quake, cod4 promod(..) used to be pretty big, but is now being trappled by the MOBA genre. The problem with esport is that most games are caterd towards the casual players and are easy to pick up, whereas competetive games have a high skill ceiling and are therefor hard to learn and can easily take a couple of years to master. Also the consoles have no place in this genre, they can’t play RTS or MOBA games and their fps titles work with auto aim, to help them since they can never achieve the accuracy of a mouse and keyboard. Even tough there is a 1mil dollar tournament comming up for blackops wich is pretty ridiculous. But for me the fps genre is where its at the perfect mix of individual talent, the reflexes, map knowledge, team play, and those game changing moments that can happen any moment. Also the one who benefit most from the esports scene are the vendors for gaming gear. As an example we started a small team of friends, we all bought the game but since then most of us have bought a new mouse, keyboard, headset, screen all because it would be fairly stupid to let yourself be limited because of your gear since you put so much time and effort into getting better.
    – Shylar a CS fan.

    PS: Worth a watch to show you what I’m on about.

  • QQ

    “Women seem to have a minimal role within this world, with very few professional female players, commentators or even journalists”

    a lack of women is not a necessarily a sign that it is anti-women. perhaps women just don’t play as many games, perhaps becoming THAT involved in esports isn’t as attractive to women. I have seen a few female streamers, and found none of them very impressive in terms of skill. Some are playing off their looks for viewers, like Kneecoleslaw, and others are just streaming LoL but arent that great at the game. Show me a very skilled female player and I’d be happy to watch, alot of people would be I’m sure.

    The real thing that matters in esports is skill, not gender. It’s entertainment, not gender. If females don’t have entertaining skilled streams it really isnt MENS fault. Stop with the sob stories about your gender. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. If women arent popular in esports, maybe its because the vast majority are skillless and boring to watch.

  • arw

    Great article!

    I do disagree on the “matter of years before eSports make their way onto mainstream television.” though. TV might well die out within the process of merging media. It is entirely unneccessary for eSports to be on TV. Instead it just makes internet broadcasting expand.

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