Is 2013 Going To Be The Year For eSports?

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After having just watched the entirety of Riot’s League of Legends World Championships, I’m truly amazed by what has become of online gaming. We’re at a point where competitive play has become so serious that it’s reaching a level where televised and streamed events can actually become profitable. eSports may eventually be turned into a business, and that’s what needs to happen to push it to the next level.

Two or three years ago, no one could imagine that an online game would reach a level of growth that would allow for it to put together a massive, worldwide tournament with a two million dollar prize pool. But it has already happened. You can consider the next major event to be fairly insignificant unless it can top that. The growth of the eSports community may become just as competitive as the gaming itself.

I want to take a look at today’s state of eSports and competitive gaming. Let’s reflect on the stage we’re at now and the possibilities in the future. As far as I’m concerned, it can never get big enough.

Competitive Games

My earliest recollection of eSports dates back to the days of Shoryuken, when fighting games were all the rage.

While competitive gaming and LAN events surely existed before this, the Street Fighter days brought a lot of hype to the scene. The days of M.U.G.E.N emerged and fighting games started taking over even more, with series like King of Fighters, Darkstalkers, and Tekken showing great promise. In today’s eSports, the significance of fighting games has diminished significantly.

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Who could forget the world of FPS games?

Huge names like Quake, Counter-Strike, and Halo come to mind. Even in more recent times, Call of Duty has had an enormous presence in console gaming. I can hardly think of another series of games that has stirred up as much hype and excitement as CoD.

Now, we live in the years of the RTS.

StarCraft II, League of Legends, and Dota 2 are the premiere names in eSports today. These are the games that appear as if they are going to carry us into an era where eSports are a familiarity for everyone.

Leagues and Events

Events like the WSG (World Cyber Games) and DreamHack are some of the most recognized in all of eSports. DreamHack is even televised in Sweden. It’s huge over there.

StarCraft leads the field in competitive gatherings, with leagues like the GSL (Global StarCraft II League) ringing bells with most players of Blizzard’s hugely-popular RTS hit. These events bring hundreds and thousands of people together, all interested in watching their favorite professional players and teams compete to be crowned the best.

MLG (Major League Gaming) is perhaps the most well-known league in eSports, where games like Halo: Reach, League of Legends, CoD 4, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and more are played.

The Future

What is it going to take to push eSports into our living rooms? Can you ever imagine a StarCraft II championship game being fawned over like the World Cup? eSports are growing and pulling huge numbers is possible. I’ve seen people watch competitive streams well into the hundreds of thousands.

As aforementioned, the LoL World Championships was the biggest event to date. Records were broken and more cash prizes were given away than any of us could have imagined. There were several issues along the way that should be addressed:

  • The venue was not set up properly. Sun was getting in the players’ eyes, people were being accused of cheating (which was as easy as turning your head backwards), and more.
  • The game was played over the internet and not on a LAN. Suspected DDoS attacks literally affected the outcome of some games.
  • The entire semifinals had to be shifted to a venue where there wasn’t even a crowd and active construction was taking place behind the casters.

Though this was such a huge step for the world of eSports, there is a lot of room for improvement. If companies like Riot continue to push, something special can happen. Gamers like you and I could finally have our equivalent of the Olympics. Think of surfing through channels on your TV and catching an online game stream being casted to thousands of viewers. It’d be great.

What do you guys see coming up for us in 2013? Can eSports really make a push and become as big as we’ve all dreamed? Let me know in the comments.

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