Can you sit behind a computer screen for hours on end, clicking and tapping the mouse and keyboard, playing video games like LoL, Gameforce, and Rise of Kingdoms (check out rok.guide for info guide on RoK)? Do you think this qualifies as a sport? Millions of fanatic gamers think so. The e-athletes who have made it their permanent job also think so.
eSports Festival has reached Belgium made possible by Store Mania and trade show organizer Gameforce. The tournament with international and national game heroes, where games are played in the ‘League of Legends’ and ‘Fifa 15’ games.
These five reasons could possibly explain why video gaming qualifies as a sport.
1. Streamed matches attract more viewers than serial final
No less than 70 million viewers occasionally log in to an eSports channel on Twitch or YouTube video streaming services every now and then. The roof comes off at peak times. At the end of 2013, a record 32 million people watched the ‘League of Legends’ world championship online, which is more than the number of TV viewers watching the American series finals of TV series ‘Breaking Bad’, ’24’ and ‘The Sopranos’ watched. Together!
2. Players earn a good living with it
You probably already knew this, but do you know how exactly they deserve their living? In the first place by playing a lot. A prize pool of 30,000 euros will be awarded at the Belgian eSports festival, with 10,000 euros for the winning team in the international tournament. Looks nice as an extra income, you say? Not if you know that worldwide 47,000 tournaments are being organized every year. All with a comparable average prize pool.
3. An eSports athlete follows good practice and some healthy preparations
To be a good eSports athlete, players must, of course, be exceptionally skilled in the specific game they practice. That is also how they are discovered: by showing what they have at home during online competitions and LAN parties. But once they have taken the step to a professional career, much more is involved.
Training their wrist-eye-brain coordination is important, just like teamwork. Most teams also train around six hours a day for this. And then there is the personal training schedule to stay physically fit: to stay focused for hours, the better eSports athletes follow a regime of fitness, cardio, yoga and – yes, mindfulness training. The team’s sponsor also provides a dietician who prescribes a diet high in protein.
4. Belgium also has eSports Heroes
Every sport has its star athletes and that is no different here. Well-known players are almost all known through their ‘gamertag’, which is often an unpronounceable string of numbers and letters. Belgian eSports athletes are also appearing in international competitions.
Armand ‘bOne7’ Pittner is doing well today and two well-known Belgian names in the world, who will comment on this during the Belgian eSports Festival this weekend, have already earned their spurs. Mitch ‘KrePo’ Voorspoels (25) then abandoned his studies for a professional career as a player of the game ‘League of Legends’ and Eefje ‘Sjokz’ Depoortere (28) decided immediately after her higher studies every tens of hours she spent in games as an ‘Unreal Tournament’ turned into a profession by going for a career as a global eSports commentator.
5. League of Legends is King
In view of the above, it may not be surprising that Riot Games, the American game company behind the online game ‘League of Legends’, was already taken over by TenCent Holdings in 2011. That is namely the largest internet company in China. The game that the company launched only two years earlier is today the most important title to be played in the eSports circuit. No fewer than 26 percent of all worldwide eSports tournaments that are played contain “League of Legends” games, which must be played in teams of 5 people.
The second most important games around which eSports competitions are based are ‘Defense of the Ancients 2’ (better known for its acronym ‘Dota 2’) and football game ‘Fifa 15’: both are on 17 percent of all worldwide tournaments. Also important are the ‘Pokémon’ games (12 percent), the strategy game ‘StarCraft II’ (11 percent), of course the ‘Call of Duty’ shooting games (8 percent together), and the online gaming pioneer ‘Counter-Strike’ (5 percent). Far less prominent, but still good for a ‘market share’ of 1 to 2 percent, are the ‘World of Tanks’ war games, the ‘Battlefield’ shooting games, and the fighting games from the ‘Street Fighter’ series.