As you’ve grown through the years, you might recall your parents telling you to “pause the game” or “put down the controller,” but with the rapid succession of eSports, your parents might soon come to regret that decision.
The e in the beginning of eSports stands for “electronic” as the new wave of sports is all online. With the traction of competitive gaming, chances are you’ve heard of eSports.
But in case you hadn’t, what exactly are they? eSports are defined as the competition among professional video gamers. There are different leagues for different video games, just as there are different leagues for different sports, like Major League Baseball or Major League Soccer. Some of the most popular leagues are Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Starcraft, League of Legends (LOL), and the most recently emerging Overwatch League (OWL).
Overwatch is a six versus six first-person shooter game developed by Blizzard Entertainment. The objective is usually focused on attacking or defending a point on a map by eliminating opponents. Six people are situated on a team together. The twelve teams in OWL represent locations from Seoul to Houston to London, containing a roster of ten to twelve professional players.
The seasons are composed of four five-week long stages with a two-week break separating each stage. The competition is composed of three games every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, totaling twelve games a week with each individual team competing head-to-head twice that week. You can either watch these matches using an online live-streaming service called Twitch or by buying tickets to visit the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California.
Each player makes a minimum of a $50,000 salary every season, not including sponsorship deals, merchandise sales or winning the stage finals; those players earn an additional $100,000. Furthermore, the players are provided with housing, retirement plans, and healthcare. After the fourth stage ends, the top teams from each division play in the championship playoffs, ending with a grand final that rewards the first place team with a one million dollar prize.
Without the physical repercussions that a typical athlete faces, it may seem like this career is easy as pie. But with the dedication of fourteen to sixteen hours of daily practice, this career takes more than meets the eye as the players are subjected to the potential abandonment of their social life and sanity. A player that goes by “Effect” even had to take a break because of the pressure that he faces.
With the outstanding salary these players receive, maybe you would want to play a part in the game or maybe just become a spectator. Either way, there is definitely profit to be found in the competitive gaming industry.