With such massive events as DreamHack, Intel Extreme Masters and The International – which sold out in an hour last Saturday – growing every year, eSports coverage is bursting out of the sites and channels specifically made to cover it and making its presence known in mainstream press.
Considering the industry’s rapid growth coupled with the ever-increasing popularity of games played at a professional level such as League of Legends, StarCraft and Dota 2, just how far are we from seeing eSports on our television screens alongside the likes of football, baseball and basketball?
Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice
With over half a million dollars in prize money, the Intel Extreme Masters World Championship in Katowice managed to garner lots of local and international attention. Forbes and The Daily Dot were among the outlets that published articles looking at the numbers – attendees, viewers, prize pools – and sheer magnitude of the event. The Telegraph’s article, which is definitely worth a read, looked at the wider spectrum of eSports growth, mentioning the upcoming ESL One Frankfurt as “one more milestone on the rising tide of eSports”.
Even weeks after the event, the Katowice Aftermovie managed to find its way onto the sites of several more mainstream outlets, with The Daily Dot stating that it “gives a sense of what a major esport event is like in person”.
Big budgets, big dreams
It’s not just the Intel Extreme Masters, however, with many other eSports events, as well as the scene in general, regularly appearing in mainstream media outlets.
Last week, IGN wrote about Wargaming.net’s $10 million investment in eSports in 2014, $2 million more than last year, quoting CEO Victor Kisyli as having said of its expansion: “In the beginning, it was not so much us who wanted to introduce World of Tanks to eSports. It was the players themselves who wanted to be more competitive.” They also covered the challenges faced by those looking to join the scene with an in-depth article on the sometimes harsh realities of the pro gaming scene. The opening line draws a clear parallel between eSports and more conventional sports: “There are more similarities between eSports and professional sports (such as football or basketball) than you might think.” As writer Josh Smith observed in closing: “just like any athlete will tell you, you’ve got to put in the work to be the best.”
Infiltrating the mainstream
It’s also not only online that eSports have seen an increase in coverage by more mainstream media organizations.
Late last year, HBO Sports’ Real Sports news magazine included a segment on eSports, with reporter Soledad O’Brien observing that “more Americans play [League of Legends] than America’s pastime baseball from Little League to the Majors combined.”
With the US now issuing athlete visas to League of Legends players, mind-boggling eSports earnings figures widely available and big-budget documentaries about the scene being released, are eSports finally receiving the worldwide legitimacy they deserve?
Let us know what you think in the comments below