According to the dictionary definition, an esport is a competitive video game tournament. Made up of the words electronic and sports, “esports” and esports tournaments are like the FIFA World Cup and the English Football League to soccer players and fans, the World Series and the MLB to baseball fanatics and the Stanley Cup or NHL to ice hockey enthusiasts.
Just like traditional sports, esports have teams with huge followings of devoted fans who tune into games and cheer their favorite players on. By 2019, 427 million people will be watching esports, according to industry tracking firm Newzoo. So while esports may not be played in the same way and its players don’t necessarily work up a sweat sat in front of their computer screens, they sure are capable of filling up a stadium.
How Esports Fans Can Engage
As a fan of this emerging, sporting phenomena, there are plenty of ways that you can get in on the action. While the global nature of esports may not mean that you will be able to filter into a stadium every weekend to watch your favorite teams do what they do best, you can still tune in to matches using live streaming platforms like Twitch. You can discuss the match with other fans using the chat and use features such as ‘Bits’ which allow you to spend a virtual currency in order to cheer your favorite teams and players on.
Twitch also hosts streams from a variety of professional players across a variety of sports including League of Legends, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Overwatch League, with Twitch paying a reported $90 million for exclusive streaming rights to host streams of the tournament and personal streams by Overwatch pros. The chat function allows fans to talk to these players directly.
Esports fans can also engage with their favorite players and other fans on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, where they are able to pick apart strategies and tactics and discuss which picks (e.g character, item and ability choices) players have successfully or unsuccessfully chosen. More recently, fans have also been able to put their understanding of the game to the test through esports betting platforms such as Betway, allowing them to put money down on leading tournaments such as Dota 2’s China Supermajor, NBA 2K’s the NBA 2K League and League of Legends’ Demacia Cup. Players who are especially fond of the way a particular team plays can also support their teams with a range of merch including themed headsets and accessories like the Astro 450 or the Turtle Beach Stealth 700, as well as more traditional jerseys that have the team logo and the player’s name on the back.
How Aspiring Esports Players Can Engage
It’s not just esports viewers who get to have all the fun though, as there are plenty of ways for aspiring esports players to get in on the fun as well.
One possible route on the path to going pro is to get involved through a university. While it’s a far less common way of going pro when compared to just rising through the ranks via ranked play or making a name for yourself on a streaming platform, many universities now offer esports degrees and have their own esports teams. Staffordshire University in the UK is one such example, as it hosts a pro gamer training facility and is launching a degree that teaches people the business side of esports too.
Aspiring players can also get involved by purchasing the right sort of equipment. For example, you’ll want to invest the best gaming mouse that offers extra buttons for quick access and is also comfortable which is useful for those long gaming sessions. Quality keyboards and high-quality screens that allow you to see all of the action crystal clear are also important and can give you the edge over your competitors.
How Esports Newcomers Can Engage
If you’re not yet on board the esports hype train then don’t worry. Esports is rapidly growing and there will be plenty of opportunities for you to get involved too. The next generation of consoles, such as the PlayStation 5, are expected to offer additional support for esports and the amount of esports games, teams, and charismatic players is growing too.