Joe Osborne | OPINIONS WRITER
Football, basketball, baseball and soccer. The world’s most beloved sports. Watching these has become a bonafide American hobby. They have been popular for decades, and they aren’t going anywhere soon. A new form of athletic entertainment will soon join this pantheon: E-sports.
E-sports is the term used for electronic sports, or in simpler terms, gaming. It is a new type of culture that is rapidly growing around the world. So much in fact, that most of the people involved in this new phenomenon refer to what they do as a sport, just as an athlete would.
The most popular e-sports are League of Legends, Defense of the Ancients 2 (DOTA 2), and Starcraft 2. The players of these games broadcast themselves to a live audience on streaming platforms such as Twith.tv and Azubu.tv. Twitch attracts 45 million unique users monthly, according to Ongamers.net. This number of viewers is larger than those of Breaking Bad, Tosh.O, and the NFL preseason put together. Viewers go online to watch someone play a video game, just as anyone would turn on their TV to watch a football game.
League of Legends is by far the most popular game in the world. It was created by the company Riot Games in October of 2009. It is a game where two teams of five face off to try to take down each other, and ultimately destroy the opposing teams base. Each player has a choice of using one of 123 unique characters, or champions. In October, 2013, the number of daily League of Legends players had hit 13 million and monthly players hit 32 million, according to Riot Games. Merely four months after that, the numbers had skyrocketed to 27 million daily players and 67 million monthly. Today the number of daily players is very likely over 40 million.
Just like any other sport, League of Legends has professional teams. There are multiple leagues in Korea, China, Turkey, Brazil and Oceania, but the most popular ones are the North American League Championship Series, and the European League Championship Series (NALCS, and EULCS). Within these leagues, there are ten teams and two seasons that last approximately ten weeks. Every week, teams have two games. Seem similar to a basketball season? It is very similar. That is just one of many reasons why this is an insanely fast growing industry.
The pinnacle of this sport up to this point in time was the League of Legends World Championship, held in Taiwan, Taipei, and Seoul, South Korea. The best teams from each region came to compete for the title of world champion. The number of participants, both at the event and watching from home were astronomical. For the entire tournament that lasted over a month, the total unique viewer count clocked in at 288 million. For the finals which consisted of only three games, there were 27 million viewers. Believe it or not, this was well above the NBA Finals in 2014, which attracted only 18 million viewers.
Many students at La Cueva may not know it, but League of Legends is so popular that we have a club for it. It is held from 2:45-5:00 PM every Friday in room G-4. It was created by Alan Shen, sophomore, and it hosts about 25 kids every week.
“I was reading the UNM newsletter one day and I saw that they had a League of Legends club, so I thought it would be fun to start one for La Cueva.”
When asked why he plays League, he responded, “Because it is fun to work with friends and cooperate to achieve a goal.”
Shen, like most League players considers what he does a sport. “The U.S. gives athletic visas to League players so if Obama thinks it’s a sport then it’s a sport!” He said humorously. “E-sports are great. You can now make a good living from it, and you can even receive scholarships. Many pro players make over six figures playing league. It’s turning into a viable career path.”