2016 is shaping up to be one of the best years for competitive gaming. We previously thought that 2013 was the year of esports, but then 2014 came and blew all previous records to pieces. Now, in 2016, the scene is still breaking milestones left and right with no end in sight.
For example, within the past year, ESPN and Yahoo! both launched sections for full-time esports coverage. Mainstream household brands are now recognizing the sheer growth and potential of it all, which lends a lot of legitimacy to the whole idea.
Competitive gaming is getting serious and it’s not just for nerds and geeks anymore. It’s not just about being lazy and having fun. In fact, esports can not only teach useful life skills and build confidence, but can also be a source of life lessons and wisdom.
Whether you intend to participate or just spectate, here’s all you need to know about the swelling phenomenon of esports.
7 eSports Sites to Bookmark Now
The thing about esports is that multiple games are involved and all of these scenes develop at a rapid pace — much faster than traditional sports — so newbies usually find it tough to keep up. That’s why these all-in-one esports news sites are so important.
Just pick two or three of the following sites and check in on them every day. It won’t take much time and you’ll get a lot out of it.
Without a doubt, ESPN sits as the most successful sports networks in television history. Over 80% of American households had the channel in 2015, and the brand is so well-known that even people who have never watched a sports match in their life still know about ESPN.
So it was big news when ESPN broadcasted an esports match on national TV — and even bigger news when ESPN announced in January 2016 that it would roll out an esports section on its website. It’s only online coverage for now, but this was still an enormous stepping stone for the scene.
At the moment, ESPN only covers Dota 2, League of Legends, and Hearthstone. It’s yet unknown whether it plans to expand coverage, but if this experiment turns out well, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to expect coverage of games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive as well.
Just two months after ESPN made its move, Yahoo! followed suit with its own inauguration of an esports section. While Yahoo! isn’t doing so well with some of its projects, the sports section has always been a winner — and it only makes sense to capitalize on esports while it can.
Yahoo! eSports is better designed than ESPN’s site, at least from a usability standpoint. It’s cleaner, more modern, easier to navigate, and all of the important information is immediately accessible. The sidebar, with live match results and spoiler toggle, is especially useful.
As of this writing, Yahoo! eSports covers CS:GO, Dota 2, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, and Street Fighter V.
Unlike the above two sites, GosuGamers has been a pillar of the esports community for over a decade. It launched in 2002 as a hobby site for competitive coverage on games like Warcraft III and Starcraft: Brood War. Now it’s one of the most reputable esports news sites around.
The site itself is packed full of information. Expect to see dozens of new posts every day, but in addition to that, you’ll also find a live match ticker, a list of on-air esports streams, and a forum where you can discuss the latest goings-on, events, and developments.
GosuGamers offers the widest coverage: CS:GO, Dota 2, League of Legends, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Starcraft II, and Overwatch. If we could only recommend one site, it would be this one.
The Score eSports is first and foremost an esports news site. Hit the front page and you’ll see nothing but roster changes, match previews, event results, and the like. If you’re looking for in-depth features or navel-gazing pieces, this isn’t the place for it.
But the real claim to fame for The Score eSports is its mobile app — available on Android and on iOS — that integrates with several esports games and offers live scoring and breaking news through push notifications. It’s a must-have for every esports fan.
The site currently covers seven games: CS:GO, Dota 2, League of Legends, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Starcraft II, and Call of Duty.
Slingshot eSports is a newcomer to the field of esports, but rest assured because the people who contribute to the site have been around the block more than once — especially Tomi “lurppis” Kovanen (former Counter-Strike player) and Paul “ReDeYe” Chaloner (veteran commentator).
The main draw here is that it’s an independent news site that’s not beholden to advertisers, developers, and parent companies. If you want exposés and controversies, you’ll probably find it here. This is unbridled coverage of the esports culture.
Slingshot eSports has categories for CS:GO, Dota 2, League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Super Smash Bros.
For those who don’t know, The Daily Dot is an online publication that aims to be the “newspaper of the Internet”, and as with most modern newspapers that means covering a whole bunch of different topics. Luckily for us, esports is one of them — and the coverage is pretty darn good.
Don’t expect to see nitty-gritty details or in-depth reporting on specific scenes. Rather, in true newspaper fashion, The Daily Dot offers broad coverage of the biggest news bits from every esports scenes.
So even though it’s not the best site for following individual events, it’s perfect for finding out who’s winning the big tournaments, which events are breaking attendance records, and any juicy community developments.
This last site isn’t a news site like the others mentioned above, but it’s still a crucial site to follow if you care about tournament prize pools and career winnings for players. Indeed, eSports Earnings is the most comprehensive database of money in esports.
The database is quite informative, too. The per-event prize pools and per-player winnings is the main draw, but you can also browse all events and winners by year, by country, by team, and by game. All results are up to date, new entries are made daily, and the history goes back as far as 1998.
How to Watch eSports Events
News sites are great for catching up on and following events, but if you want to get truly involved, you need to watch these events live! If you aren’t sure how to do that, here are the three main sites you need to know about.
Nowadays there’s a lot to watch on Twitch even if you have absolutely no interest in esports, but this streaming site was born out of competitive gaming and Twitch as a company has a lot invested in the esports scene.
Most tournaments are streamed here for free so if you aren’t sure where an event is being streamed, there’s a good chance it’ll be on Twitch. You can also browse by games and catch the odd event happening here and there.
Azubu has suffered a lot of growing pains over the years, never really able to differentiate itself from Twitch in a way that mattered. The ultimate goal has always been to be “the esports streaming site” but due to difficulties in reaching critical mass, it’s always been “that other streaming site”.
That being said, if you want to watch all kinds of esports — not just the top-tier majors but also the mid-tier minors — then Azubu is the best place for it. The mobile app is also pretty useful for watching on the go.
MLG, or Major League Gaming, is an esports organization that specializes in major tournaments and offers some of the best competitions today. Normally you can watch these events on other sites, especially Twitch, but MLG has its own live player and chat in case you don’t like Twitch.
The downside is that you can only watch MLG events with the MLG player.
Getting Into eSports Is Easy!
Even if you’re not an avid gamer yourself, esports can be very fun to watch if you give it an honest shot and invest yourself into a specific game, event, or team. It doesn’t take much energy on your part to follow these sites and streams, so why not give it a try? It may surprise you.
Just be careful that you don’t end up being addicted to these games, which can be a real problem for some. And even if you aren’t prone to addiction, it’s also possible for games to end up feeding depression so beware of that, too.
Does the idea of esports interest you? Which games in particular? Are there any other good esports resources that we missed? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Image Credit: gaming by Syda Productions via Shutterstock