The Press Box Perspective: Weighing in on eSports

By Andrew Zuhosky

All right, let’s talk about a rising event in the sporting world, one which doesn’t pertain to any sort of actual athletic competition. That’s right, we’re talkin’ eSports today.

If you don’t know just what the heck eSports is, here’s the meaning:

Do any of you remember going to your buddy’s house back in the day to compete in a video game tournament and it was just between you and him to see who could get the higher score on a game?

Do you remember your older brother telling you stories of when he used to play in video game tournaments when he was growing up?

Well, that’s what eSports is.

There are many types of games that are played in current eSports tournaments. You can find various streams of eSports tournaments on the Web.

Case in point: Tournaments involving the “EA SPORTS Madden NFL” series can be found on YouTube, Facebook Live and the Madden NFL Twitch channel.

Furthermore, BTN2GO, the digital platform for Big Ten Network, streams League of Legends matches involving Big Ten Conference schools, with BTN having aired last Monday night’s League of Legends final.

In past years, ESPN’s profiles have aired and streamed matches from Heroes of the Dorm, a college contest where the game “Heroes of the Storm” is played, with the tournament now being streamed on Facebook Live for 2017.

In last year’s Heroes of the Dorm tournament, gamers from Arizona State University’s The Real Dream Team swept the championship match three games to none to capture the title after going undefeated across all tournament matches.

Tomorrow night, TBS begins its coverage of the third season of ELEAGUE, an eSports competition that in 2017 will have “Street Fighter V” as the featured game in lieu of “CounterStrike Mobile Offensive”.

The program will consist of selected highlights throughout the week’s action tomorrow night.

Here is how ELEAGUE Season 3 will be formatted:

All this week, 32 gamers, 16 who qualified to this ELEAGUE season after competing in last year’s CAPCOM Pro Tour, and 16 who were invited by the video game company, have been competing in preliminary round action, which concludes tomorrow.

The top six gamers from each prelim group will advance to regular season play. Regular season matches are contested in a best-of-five format.

First- and second-place gamers from each regular season group qualifying for the postseason, which will be contested the week of May 26.

All postseason contests are in best-of-five formats, with the winning gamer pocketing $250,000 in prize money.

This all begs the question of “Are eSports sports?”

On one hand, you have the people who follow it like the NFL or NBA and you have to consider the fact that TV networks are devoting air time to it.

With traditional sports networks and well-known traditional sports television brands like ESPN, BTN and Turner either having streamed or aired or are currently streaming or airing eSports programming, it definitely pushes the argument in favor of eSports being sports.

But on the other hand, you have the people who dismiss eSports as childish silliness and would rather watch something else.

In my opinion, yes, eSports are sports. In the past, I have watched the various eSports competitions and loved them.

These people who participate in eSports practically eat, sleep, drink, breathe, and live the game being played. It shows. Boy, it shows.

They’re passionate about the games and take the competition seriously, much like how Corey Kluber would take a playoff start for the Cleveland Indians seriously, or like how Blake Griffin would take a playoff series for the Los Angeles Clippers seriously.