Looking for a source of diversion? That’s the simple definition of a “sport” according to Merriam-Webster.
How about two Koreans battling away in a game of Starcraft 2? It sounds an unlikely phenomenon, yet, somehow video game nerds have been perfecting their touch and amassing huge audiences, huge armies and not to mention, huge sponsorships.
Thousands travel to Korea to fill up stadiums as spectators. Millions of viewers religiously watch the games unfold from live streams through GOMtv and Youtube.
Have e-sports officially caught on? Or is this simply over-hyped nerd fantasy?
Video game giant, Blizzard, creator of World of Warcraft, released Starcraft in 1997. Since its inception, the game has caught on fire in the Korean gaming scene and risen to an unlikely level of national acclaim.
Players have begun joining professional gaming leagues, competing in tournaments, and awkwardly enough, dropping out of school.
Sounds a lot like pro sports, doesn’t it?
Like other games such as Poker, Call of Duty and Madden being broadcasted live as sporting events, Starcraft 2 looks able to bring a new breed of “sports” to viewers. As well it should.
E-sports provide a regular source of entertainment. Games are under 20 minutes long and can be viewed any time. Fans have their favorite teams and players. These digital atheletes aren’t scoring goals, but they are living the dream. They get paid to play a sport.
The gaming lingo is intense for the layman. Fortunately, games are broadcast live by regular game casters who give both play-by-play and color commentary to balance out the jargon with quirky nerd humor.
Popular casters, such as Mike “Husky” Lamond, have posted 900 videos of game replays, boasting nearly 500,000 subscribers and 60 million channel views.
As of April 12, 2011, all aforementioned mayhem has landed on American soil with the founding of the North American Star League (NASL).
For its premiere season, a $100,000 prize pool has been announced. Not quite a baseball salary, but as video game tournaments go, it’s enough to buy a new motherboard.
With the introduction of the “professional gaming” circuit, the e-sports dark horse is rising. Whether playing casually or grabbing a passport to Seoul, e-sports are sweeping the Internet.
How long until Starcraft 2 joins World Class Poker on ESPN? I say one year. Tops.