In 2002, Sangam Stadium in South Korea was home to the World Cup Semi-Finals. In 2014, it played host to the League of Legends World Championships Finals.
Three months in to 2015, this year already promises to be one of the best in the eSports universe.
The Intel Extreme Masters World Championships for League of Legends were held in Katowice, Poland on March 13 through the 15 and had a concurrent viewership of 1.8 million.
“League of Legends” (LoL) is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) which was made popular when “Warcraft III” had the custom game, “Defense of the Ancients” (DOTA).
Electronic sports have been around for quite some time. Thanks to the website twitch.tv, games such as LoL and DOTA can reach audiences all across the world and ultimately host events in venues, where players such as Kobe Bryant have play in.
Twitch is a streaming platform which was released in June 2011 and in August 2014 was bought by Amazon.com for $970 million.
Twitch is mainly host to video gamers on all sides of the spectrum.
People can stream their adventures on Pokémon and their games in Madden. If you draw enough viewers, that 40-yard volley from Steven Gerrard can earn you some cash.
Twitch is very similar to YouTube in the fact that they too have a Partner Program.
The Partner Program allows content providers to share a portion of the advertising revenue generated from streaming.
If you generate enough traffic to your stream, Twitch gives viewers the option to “subscribe” to your channel. An option that costs the viewer $5.
Streamers with the subscribe button generate roughly $2 each subscription. With some streamers eclipsing over thousands of subs, it’s not hard to see what type of money these people bring in.
In addition to subscriptions, viewers often donate to their favorite streamers.
Donations can range from any amount and often streamers have rewards for people that donate a certain amount of money.
In 2013, Twitch had an average of 43 million viewers per month. Twitch was considered the fourth largest source of Internet traffic in the United States in 2014.
With all this growing popularity, events across the nation have been able to expand. The LoL season 1 World Championships was held in front of just a few dozen people.
The season four World Championships Finals on Oct. 9 had 11.2 million viewers at its peak. To put that into perspective, the World Series has averaged just over 13 million viewers the last three years.
Scholarships are starting to become available for gamers.
Robert Morris University in Chicago started offering scholarships to LoL players to entice students to enroll and compete in the Collegiate League.
Now, UC, Cal State and many other campuses across the country have LoL teams which compete for up to $30,000 in scholarship money.
In 2013, creators of LoL, Riot Games, spent six months urging the government to allow professional gamers to obtain the same visas athletes are given.
After being granted athletic visas, gamers flocked to the United States. In fact, there are whole teams coming here to play video games.
The American dream is alive, even through pixels.
ESports hasn’t always been about MOBAs. The popular first-person shooter, “Counter-Strike” was extremely popular in the United States and in Europe as well. Many gamers like myself would find teams at home or abroad to root for.
While the west had counter-strike, Asia had Starcraft.
“Starcraft”, Blizzard’s real-time strategy game, sent waves through the world during the first decade of its release.
In that decade, Starcraft sold over 9.5 million copies, with 4.5 million of those being purchased in South Korea.
Being a professional gamer used to be something kids dreamed of, but now living that lifestyle is a definite possibility.
Interested in gaming? The Gamers Guild on campus looks to promote social activity through video games.
Whether it be through console, handheld or PC, any gamer can find haven within the Gamers Guild.
The Gamers Guild meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30 pm to 4:30 p.m. in LS-115.