The ever imminent rise of eSports

When people think of gamers, they tend to think of reclusive people who like to shrink into an immersive world of solitude. One area of gaming which is out to turn the tables on that stereotype is “eSports” – Electronic Sports. On the 19th October the League of Legends World Championships, arguably the most popular gaming event of the year, took place in the Seoul World Cup Stadium (Korea) with 40,000 spectators and attracting millions of viewers on Twitch.tv, Youtube and other streaming websites.

For this event BUNCS – The Video Gaming Society met up with nearby Gaming Societies to host a joint “Viewing Party” at the “AlterEgo” bar in Bristol. We took over the entire establishment, with League of Legends being streamed to every prominent screen and Sky Sports News taking a backseat. To my surprise most of the 100 students present recognised me. Due to the constant promotion of the “National University eSports League” (NUEL), which all gaming societies in the country participate in, and the “Best of the South West” (BotSW) which all these societies played in over the last year, I had become a National Treasure!

Throughout my life I was told that no notoriety could come from video gaming. How wrong you where mother, I’m a fucking celebrity!

But before I could get ahead of myself, the match featuring the South Korean “Samsung White” and Chinese “Star Horn Royal Club” playing for the title and a lucrative prize of $1,000,000 began. After 3 hours it ended 3 – 1 in favour of “Samsung White”, though the result was predictable, it left me wondering about what this increase in the following of League of Legends had on University tournaments like the NUEL and BotSW as we left for UWE to socialise with yet more video games.

It is surreal, when thinking back, to recall how popular the “Season 1” World Championships were three years ago. Only 100,000 people (including myself) watched online while literally tens of, well ten, spectators occupied the venue and a meagre $100,000 for the victors. All of those numbers looking pitiful in today’s gaming world. In 2011, people cited those viewership figures as “paving the way” for an “imminent” rise of eSports. I thought they were wrong, that is was a brief anomaly, while considering my parents anger at my daily gaming habits as justified. But here I was, able to hold a conversation over gaming, the NUEL and BotSW with many people I didn’t know. It is crazy to think that in 3 years’ time, the same number of people watching the Season 1 Championships could be watching the best University teams on the NUEL’s stream or even Bath’s own BotSW!

Unfortunately days like this, where pubs feature eSports, are few and far between. I feel certain now that eSports will play a major part in everyone’s lives in the future, much like football or rugby and most importantly it is great that a career in something I feel so strongly and passionate about is now a viable life choice!

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