Professional gaming has gained a lot of viewers in the last few years. League of legends viewing has gone from a small gathering to the Seoul football stadium packed with space for 66,000 people and getting around 270,000 people watching online through a stream, the year before, 32 million people watched (http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/19/5123724/league-of-legends-world-championship-32-million-viewers). Dota 2 has a similar following, with the last professional tournament getting 250,000 people watching through a stream and the tournament was held in Seattle, Washington, with a prize pool of just over $10,000,000 (http://dota2.gamepedia.com/The_International_2014). Prize pools range anywhere from $20,000 per tournament to $10,000,000. The last League of Legends world finals had a prize pool of $2,130,000, 1 million going to the winning team.. The 1 million is split between the 5 team members on the team. To get to the level to play in these tournaments, you need to train for hours a day, making it a full time job.
The amount of time players put into becoming the best is incredible, some people going for 10 hours of training a day. The US government now recognizes professional League of Legends players as athletes, giving them visas to go to the country and work. The boss of ESPN, even though Dota 2 was streamed on their channel ESPN3, said “It’s not a sport – it’s a competition. Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition….Mostly, I’m interested in doing real sports” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/09/07/espn-boss-declares-esports-not-a-sport/) He wasn’t thinking then about the 32 million people who play League of Legends when he said this. That number was only in 2011 as well. As of 2014, there are 27 million players daily, with 67 million players monthly. Obviously, this is a huge number, and that should not be taken lightly when saying such things about something a lot of people care about. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2014/01/27/riots-league-of-legends-reveals-astonishing-27-million-daily-players-67-million-monthly/)
These people, during 2011-2012, logged a massive 1.3 billion hours played.( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_Legends) This is showing that there is still the segregation between “real” sports players, and gamers. The boss of ESPN clearly thinks that E-sports should not be considered a sport, and that he doesn’t really care about any of the facts, or other people’s opinions on the matter. His argument towards his opinion is more than likely that gaming does not contain any physical strain, and because it’s virtual, the people playing shouldn’t be considered ‘athletes’. However, the boss of ESPN got something wrong; chess actually is considered a sport.
Chess is considered a sport because it is a competition between highly skilled people and that it’s very popular and played worldwide. People who see these principals being applied to chess, can see them being applied to gaming. Others believe that professional gamers have the same mentality of physical athletes, in the way they need strategies, and that they train every day to become the best. Counter Strike: Global Offensive is also a game which has a very high number of players, with the best of them playing in professional tournaments, like LoL and Dota. The gamer base of Counter Strike: Global Offensive grew to 505,802 players at a time from only 31,359 in January 2013. (http://steamcharts.com/app/730)
Because these games have such big followings, and require years of training to be the standard that the professionals are that play on the stage and get paid for it and that all the players are highly competitive and need extreme mental focus, I think that it should be considered a sport. They put literally thousands of hours of effort into becoming the best they possibly can do. Isn’t it the same concept for sports such as football? The only difference being that e-sports aren’t requiring great physical efforts, but more intellectual and mechanical skills are being used.
An argument against e-sports could be that some people have always thought of sports as in being straining physically, like rugby/football, and because when you sit and play games, you aren’t require to move your legs, or your arms really. It’s for these reasons that people don’t immediately associate gaming with classic sports. Others argue that gamers should be called “professionals “yet do not want them to be associated with sport due to sport players never having a screen in front of them whilst playing. If this is the case, they can call chess a sport, which is it classed as now, but does chess require physical strain? No. There are some games out there which there are professionals in which do require physical strain, take Dance Dance Revolution as an example.