eSports Milestone: Video Game Tournament Featured On ESPN, Angry Feedback Mirrored Soccer Coverage, So…We Win?

from the soccer-is-a-sport dept

This seems to be progressing more quickly than I would have predicted. We were just talking about a milestone of sorts being reached in eSports, or professional video game tournaments. Last month that milestone was an American university actually offering athletic scholarship money for eGamers. If you look to other sports to measure the legitimacy of eSports and its acceptance as a competitive platform by the general public, it was kind of a big deal.

Probably not nearly as big a deal as having a major eSports tournament featured on ESPN, though.

Yeah, the biggest name in cable sports featured an entire segment, with guest Gabe Newell, covering The International, a Dota 2 tournament with a $10 million-dollar prize-pool. I can already hear some of you groaning over ESPN choosing to cover eSports, decrying it as not really sports and all that, but I’ll just rebut that by reminding you that the network runs poker coverage all the time, so there. Interestingly enough, as Kotaku highlighted, it wasn’t poker that angry Twitter users appeared to be mirroring with their complaints over the coverage. It was soccer/futbol.

And if that isn’t a complete win for eSports, I don’t know what is. Note that the response wasn’t hugely against the coverage, but the fact that the tenor of anger back at ESPN that did exist sounded very similar to the coverage of a legitimate sport, even if it isn’t the most popular sport in America, is probably a better response than most of us supporters could have hoped for.

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Comments on “eSports Milestone: Video Game Tournament Featured On ESPN, Angry Feedback Mirrored Soccer Coverage, So…We Win?”

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Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:


I groan at the thought of people being entertained watching others compete in video games.

Research I can understand (how did they do THAT?) but really, with all the movies available on Netflix, other services, or when desperate The Pirate Bay, why would you watch that?

Or better yet, take a walk.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: eSports?

What makes you think I don’t understand it? Seems to me that replacing live sports with animated sports kinda ruins the whole concept. There is nothing athletic about using a gaming controller.

Now when they get around to live competitions where live people enact whatever and it is relayed, live, to a video game, and those live people actually have to perform some athletics, gimme a call.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: eSports?

So just complaining for the sake of it since it is not your cup of tea?

If you actually understood the game and the complexity and skills required to execute at the top level. (I have played it and been on sponsored teams.) You might have a different opinion.

Different people have fun in different ways.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 eSports?

What’s your definition of “athletic”, and why is that a necessary component of sport? Are billiards/pool/snooker players really more athletic than a poker player? What about bowling? Darts? Hell, you don’t have to be an athlete to compete in motor sports either. Where’s your line?

“Chess and poker may be competitive”

So, where’s your line between a competitive game and a “sport” , given that athleticism isn’t a necessary component?

“some segments that crave attention”

Craving attention? People who compete, especially in sport? You don’t say! Next you’ll be telling me that basketball players often have an ego or that top footballers often demand a high salary.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 eSports?

Well, I do believe it needs more than just mere competition.

If competition is the deciding factor, then how long till ESPN is showing children’s card games, played by adults, for money (but the real reason is to give the folks in Las Vegas and other gambling venues another reason to place bets). Crazy Eights, Go Fish, War, tossing cards in a hat?

We can all vote, as I do, and not watch ESPN.

Or, ESPN could get some programming that actually has some level of skill and action that somewhat parallels the original concepts of the Olympics. Then I might watch.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 eSports?

“Well, I do believe it needs more than just mere competition.”

Why not outline the exact parameters then rather than making up some stupid analogy that nobody’s even considering? What more than competition does it need, and where do you join the line?

“We can all vote, as I do, and not watch ESPN.”

Then this affects you in no way whatsoever. Why are you spending so much time whining about it?

Your entire argument seems to be “stop liking what I don’t like”. That’s not a real argument.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 eSports?

OK, try this. Go to your local sporting goods store, and ask for a chess set, or a deck of cards.

While I may not have an end all beat all definition of sport, every time I ‘played a sport’ I got all sweaty and my heart rate went way up, and, at times, there was bruising or other injury, depending on the sport. Some sports have peaks and valleys in the effort expended, others are more continuous. But they all have significant physical efforts often combined with other talents that make for excellent participants. These are things I think of when I think of sport.

JCHP (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 eSports?

I remember playing Dota and League of Legends matches and coming out of the experience sweating and with elevated heart rate. The physical effort in an eSport may not be as high but it’s certainly there. The mental effort is probably far greater than a more physically inclined sport. To give you an idea, and this is purely from Dota, you have ability cooldowns and effects, for about 6-7 heroes for yourself which you play regularly to be a pro and for every other hero in the game, because that’s relevant for when you’re trading hits on a 5 million dollar match, the item cooldowns and cost and effects for the position you play in (and many items can be dual or triple role items), there’s the average gold earnings from killing a lane creep (there’s 3 of those with different values), a neutral creep camp (there’s a bit more than half a dozen of those).

But let’s pick an even easier example to explain the mental strain that the game can put on you. One of the Dota heroes is called Invoker, who has 4 basic skills. 3 of them summon an orb of a certain kind (Quas, Wex, Exort) and Invoke, which summons a spell based on the combination of the 3 you have currently summoned which ends up in 10 spells that can be invoked. Pros can use combinations of up to 3 spells (maybe more, if they have enough mana for it and are fast on the button mashing). And every single one of these spells have a very different effect. YOU try doing that sort of mental juggling while worrying on whether you can initiate a fight, contest creep kills, dash towards a river rune, counter-initiate a fight, gank someone, snipe someone with Sunstrike and whatever else is left.

Face it, your definition of “sport” is older than it should be. Don’t be “the guy” that imitates the idiots that said that chess wasn’t a sport (officially it is and that’s what matters).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 eSports?

Just because you think something is or isn’t a sport, that doesn’t change the facts. Like people who think that Pluto is still a planet, people who think only athletics are sports are incorrect.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 eSports?

“Go to your local sporting goods store, and ask for a chess set, or a deck of cards.”

I also can’t buy a Formula 1 car or a motorbike, are those not sports? I can, however, buy a snorkelling mask and a foosball table. Are you OK with ESPN replacing their poker coverage with snorkelling and table football?

“These are things I think of when I think of sport.”

Your thinking leaves out a lot of things that are considered sports, which have leagues and professional players around the world. Darts, bowls, cricket (depending on position), snooker, billiards, pool are the ones that come to mind but I’m sure there’s many others. Your definition is poor.

Sorry, your whining about what you don’t like isn’t a real definition of anything.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 eSports?

I don’t believe I ever tried to define anything. I merely stated my opinion that there were better uses of ESPN’s air time. Things that create some excitement for the user.

I am allowed an opinion, aren’t I?

Now, to actually understand me, you need to know that the TV is a mere background to other things I am doing. Therefore, for example, I will turn on NASCAR, or F1, or IndyCar when they exist on my cable system, while I am flying my Flight Simulator AND browsing the web AND dealing with the cat. I care not who wins. I care not for sponsors. I want to see the crashes, (which today are a lot safer than in the past) the excitement if you will (not gore, as they managed to safety that out, so far). I look for the replay moment, and hope to catch it live, if I am not otherwise engaged. This is typical of how I treat anything on the boob tube, including, well everything. And BTW, where is the IMSA coverage? Oh, and for those of you who now think I am a gear-head, I quit working on cars in the late 80’s, though I do do basic maintenance on my motorcyle, when I have one. In the early 90’s I found a replacement hobby playing with computer hardware. I didn’t need Gunk anymore.

At the same time I do watch American Football (collegiate and pro), and root for the underdog, but do not watch any NBA or MLB or NHL programs. Nor boxing or mixed martial arts events. And professional wrestling is a joke (I once had an office partner that wanted, I mean really wanted to be a ref for one of those). Likewise I would eschew Roller Derbies or arena football, but let me know when the Destruction Derbies are coming. I would watch more soccer, if it was available, but I have a poor understanding of the nuances.

The offerings of track and field, grecco roman wrestling, judo competitions, water polo, volley ball, and yes archery or shooting, let us not forget the winter sports, even a calm and quiet curling match, all offer opportunities for programming. The seers at ESPN think they are coming up with the next latest greatest thing. At the same time, they leave what exists (and my list is far from exhaustive) by the wayside.

There may indeed be a market for broadcasting digital competitions, and of course one would never make the mistake of including me, but when I think of all the ways one can use time…I wonder…

IMHO, of course.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 eSports?

“I am allowed an opinion, aren’t I?”

Of course. As are those who wish to see professional videogames, poker and chess tournaments broadcast on ESPN. You simply haven’t quantified a real reason why your opinion is valid, and the opinions of those others are not.

You can argue your point, but so far the arguments have either been “they aren’t sports”. In which case, please either provide a definition of sports that discludes them (but doesn’t disclude other accepted pro sports) – or admit that you don’t think pool, darts, etc. are sports either. Or, the argument has been “I don’t like them” – in which case it’s totally subjective and you might need to consider the fact that enough people have a different enough subjective opinion for ESPN to wish to cater to that taste. Nothing wrong with that.

You’re entitled to your opinions, but others are entitled to disagree with them. Since you’ve made your opinion known in a public forum, we’re free to wish to discuss the reasoning behind your opinion.

“Now, to actually understand me, you need to know that the TV is a mere background to other things I am doing.”

That’s great. So, why are you so concerned about one programming decision by a single channel if you’re not even really watching what they show in the first place?

“when I think of all the ways one can use time…I wonder…”

Yeah, I think the same when I think of the time wasted by people drunk on the couch watching baseball and football games. Hell, I’m English so I’ve seen huge amounts of broadcast time wasted by test match cricket over the years (matches go for several days). But, strangely, you’re not criticising them, only the guys watching videogames and poker…

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 eSports?

“I merely stated my opinion that there were better uses of ESPN’s air time. Things that create some excitement for the user.”

That’s a subjective thing, though. I seriously can’t imagine a channel that is more boring than ESPN, so from my point of view, they utterly fail to create excitement for the “user” anyway.

JCHP (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 eSports?

Every comment you sound more and more like the proverbial old man yelling at the cloud. Just like the people that said chess was never going to be a sport. That said, if it’s interesting to watch, competitive and people can make a living off of it (that includes network coverage actually providing profit), then why not a Go Fish tournament. Certainly beats baseball for me, I think it’s the most boring ass “sport” there is.

On that note, I’d actually enjoy watching pankration come back to the Olympics. There’s a certain allure to watching two people beat each other until one of them is KO’d, gives up or ends up dead (which results in the person living to lose). More interesting than boxing.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 eSports?

here’s my line:
any ‘sport’ which can be played with a beer in one hand, is not a ‘sport’…
(may be a ton of fun, but it ain’t a ‘sport’)

that includes curling, softball, darts, bowling, billiards, chess, cards, etc… yes, they may involve high-skill activities, but not a ‘sport’…

‘sport’ involves running, throwing, hitting, jumping, etc…
anything short of that may be a ‘game’, maybe a highly skilled endeavor, but it is not a ‘sport’…

of course my definition is definitive…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 eSports?

and what exactly makes sports (as in pointless physical activity) any more worthwhile to watch then watching people play video games?

Neither of them have any real meaning, neither of them have any direct influence to your life and both are billion dollar markets showing off their idea of “champions” in a huge Marketing event.

I watch neither, both are of supreme disinterest to me, but arguing that watching one form of “other people doing pointless things” above another is somehow of more value than the other is highly ignorant.

Neither sports broadcasts, nor esports broadcasts are in any way important, both are just entertainment.

kyle clements (profile) says:

Re: eSports?

While living in South Korea, I started watching the televised Star Craft tournaments, and it actually is pretty engaging.

Since I was somewhat familiar with the game, I was able to see just how spectacular the professional’s performances were.

The gimmicks of television – commentators, dramatic lighting, animated show segment dividers, cutting between screens, players faces, bio segments, etc. also helped sell the material as exciting.

Just because eSports are uncommon here doesn’t mean it can’t work.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: eSports?

It just seems like a really small market. Now and in the future. Of the whole population, only some percentage are gamers. Of those gamers, only some percentage would have interest in this. Today, that seems small.

OK, they are trying to build a market. Its broadcast cable, and there are 199 other choices, if you leave the choices to cable only.

Also, it’s a sports network. Inflating using a game controller, no matter how spectacularly, to the level of sport, with no athletics involved…well, it’s a big stretch.

Or, you could take a walk.

Lurker Keith says:

Re: Re: Re: eSports?

Last Generation, Nintendo expanded the group we call “gamers” extensively w/ the Wii. It even showed up in Nursing Homes, sometimes via Government grants. There is no longer an age range for Gamers (it had always been expanding anyway, as my Generation grew up, but never put the controller down); though, it is common to differentiate between “Gamers” & “casual gamers”… & sometimes even “Pro Gamers.”

Now, as to a market to watch games, yeah, that’d still be somewhat small. However, one of Nintendo’s focuses when they make games is to make sure people in the room watching enjoy watching.

I have no idea what 3rd Parties or Sony nor Microsoft attempt regarding those watching, so much of this post may not apply to this particular tournament.

However, a bit more on topic, when I watched Nintendo’s E3 Smash Invitational not too long ago, I was pretty entertained.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: eSports?

“Research I can understand (how did they do THAT?) but really, with all the movies available on Netflix, other services, or when desperate The Pirate Bay, why would you watch that?”

Why would you watch crap like Honey Boo Boo, the Kardashians or any random soap opera? I don’t know, but many do. I just ignore those things in favour of things I do want to watch myself.

One thing more pathetic than someone watching video games on their TV (and you actually identified at least one definitive reason to do so), must be someone who whines about others liking what they don’t like…

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Might be easier if everything wasn’t tied up with IP issues. Ya know?

Not that I have any affinity for ESPN or any other over-empowered corporation that strives for control of their sector. It is just that if there were no IP issues, how much different would the marketplace be? Take your pick on how to remove the issues.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m not following you. Are you suggesting that removing IP (in whatever form) would suddenly make for tons more sports?

Or are you considering that removing the money paid by the likes of ESPN to cover events would somehow make them all better?

This really isn’t an IP issue at all – it’s just a gamer guy waving the flag because his passtime has been granted the status of “sport” by ESPN, at least for the day. All I pointed out was that they covered poker, which is a competition, but is it really a sport, or just a game?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There are IP-issues involved in video-games. Usually the game developer is not the tournament organizer, which means that public transmission of the content is a grey area legally. Add in licenses for music used in the game and we have some very messy permission chains and ultimately grey area IP.

Anonymous Coward says:

I play videogames pretty much every day, and I regularly play poker and TCGs and chess and other ‘games’ which are not ‘sports.’ I have no interest in watching any of that on the television. If other people do, that’s up to them, but I find it even less comprehensible than watching a bunch of idiots run around with a ball. That said, I’m a raging hypocrite, since I really enjoy watching martial arts competitions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Scholarships for sports is not a very scholarly investment.

Collegiate sports is big business but I doubt tuition paying (borrowing) students agree that it adds anything to their investment. I have heard claims that college sporting programs (football) pay for themselves and then some, but I doubt all costs are being included in their ‘out of ass’ estimates. There are profits to be made, screw everyone else.

minijedimaster (profile) says:

I’ve been a gamer since the mid 80’s when I was a wee lil lad. Mid 30’s now. You’re going to see things like this start to take off now (in the U.S.) because my generation has been gaming for the last 30 years, and those younger than me have become even more entrenched in video games.

Tournaments like this are already HUGE in the Asian markets. They treat their top gamers over there with higher regard than our top “sports” athletes we have in the west.

I’ve known of and about DOTA2 since it came out a couple years ago. I know the basics of the MOBA genre of games and the strategies involved. I had never watched any tournament like this for entertainment until this last one which just finished. I found I actually enjoyed watching the matches. I was surprised.

The fact anyone is going to sit here and argue what a “sport” is or isn’t… is just stupid. It’s all entertainment. Either you find it entertaining or you don’t. Same goes for any of the traditional “sports”. I don’t make fun of or talk down to anyone that chooses to watch baseball/golf/chess/poker etc…. so why would you do the same to someone over competitive video gaming?

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