When did e-sports actually become entertaining?

For those of you who don’t know I am a huge fan of gaming, and while I always enjoyed playing games competitively, I usually got bored simply watching others play in e-sports events. I have the same attitude towards “real” sports: why sit by and watch when you can take part in the fun? But last night something strange happened.

I was finishing up for the night when I opened up League of Legends, an action/strategy game which has been receiving a lot of attention lately. This attention is mostly due to League of Legends, or LoL, replacing Starcraft 2 as the number one e-sport in Korea. This is a pretty big deal since Starcraft and it’s sequel are the standard when it comes to competitive gaming. Another reason the game has been getting a lot of attention is that the prize money for LoL is actually pretty damn decent ($25 000 for first place in a smaller tournament kind-of-decent). Competitive gaming has been around for a while, but finding sponsors who were willing to put down respectable amounts of money has always been a huge problem.

League of Legends

Anyway, I was about to close up LoL when I saw that the IPL finals were streaming live from Las Vegas. This was at 12.00 pm.

At 2.00 am I decided to stop watching, simply because I was exhausted and could barely keep my eyes open. I had spent the last two hours watching, and not partaking, in a competitive gaming event. I found myself with the following question on my mind (play the Youtube clip below for that question):

When I’m visiting my parents I will usually watch ESPN late at night to pass the time. ESPN is one of the few sports channels I can stomach because it has these random sporting events that are highly entertaining. Even if I’ve never seen the sport before, it’s pretty easy to pick up the basics, after which I can enjoy what I’m watching.

I am usually one of the first people to say that watching most e-sports is boring. A lot of competitive games are complicated and require a slow build up phase, whether it’s the laning phase in Dota or the building phase in Starcraft, which is as boring as shit to watch. This is really noticeable if you are not familiar with the game, and there isn’t usually much there to help you figure out what is going on.

LoL, despite being based upon Dota, has action from the get go, and is simple enough that most people, with some help from the commentators, can figure out what’s going on. I think this is what Riot, the creators of LoL, are focusing on when it comes to the development of League of Legends, and it shows, with a huge event being held in Las Vegas, and 200 000 fans watching from all over the world.

Both teams battle it out from the start for control of each other’s resources.

The event itself was a mix of interviews, commentating, awesome plays from pro and regular LoL games, and really random k-pop music videos, which overall made it highly entertaining to watch. I honestly never thought I would see the day when I could say that maybe pro gaming might become something more than a pipe dream. If Riot has their way, that pipe dream may become a reality a lot sooner than we think.

Commentators get viewers up to speed before the match starts.
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