What is Esports (Electronic Gaming)?

esports

Esports (electronic sports) is competitive video gaming in which either individual players or teams compete in tournaments and competitions against each other. There are many different large tournaments held across the world for a variety of video games, and they have amassed a large following with stadiums having their seats completely sold out for the events. Esports is a rapidly growing industry; it is expected to pass 1.5 billion in revenue by 2023.


History

esports history

Esports itself traces back to 1980 when a Space Invaders Championship was held by Atari with 10,000 participants. This was the first major large scale video game competition held in the world. Throughout the infancy of esports in the 1970s and 1980s, smaller competitions were held mainly for the more classic arcade games as online video games in which people competed against each other were not yet created.

As time progressed, internet connectivity led to more competitions especially on PC games, and by the early 2000s tournament hosts like the World Cyber Games and Major League Gaming formed. However, it wasn't until the 2010s when streaming services like Twitch and platforms like Youtube pushed Esports into the mainstream. This has led to video game companies leaning into their games' esports potential, and even some universities are now offering scholarships to students for esports. Nowadays, tournaments are being held across the world with events like the Fortnite World Cup held at Arthur Ashe stadium in NYC having a sold out crowd above 20,000 people. Epic Games made over 100 million dollars from the event, showing how far esports has come.

Playing Surface

esports playing surface

The playing surface for esports is any type of computer or gaming console that allows the player to compete online in games against others. Typically for most professional esports players and at most esports tournaments, games will be played on PCs. These PCs are made powerful in order to be able to run these games and are often referred to as gaming computers. However, there are also some tournaments held that have players playing on gaming consoles like the Xbox and Playstation too.

Equipment

esports equipment

There are many pieces of equipment that professional esports players will have that help them play the games at the highest level. It can be thought of similar to that of regular sports equipment, as baseball players will use the type of glove and bat that is the most comfortable for them and helps them perform at their best. It is the same in esports as the type of controller, chair, and headset that players use help them be the best they can be.

One piece of equipment that is especially important for console gamers is the controller. One of the most popular brands of controllers for pro esports players is SCUF controllers, which have extra buttons and are more comfortable to use than regular controllers for consoles.

Another important piece of equipment is a good gaming chair to play in. Since esports players play for so many hours a day, a chair that they are comfortable in is important to allow them to play at their best and helps to prevent back problems from sitting long hours in a chair. Some popular brands of gaming chairs are the SecretLab Titan Chairs and the OMEGA chairs.

Also important is making sure that you have a good gaming headset. Headsets are important because they allow you to hear your teammates and the noises of the game itself. So, it is important that esports players get headsets that are also comfortable for them to wear for hours at a time, and also are noise cancelling which is especially important in a tournament setting with large crowds.

Gameplay

Esports Gameplay

Esports gameplay is something that has no concrete definition as there are multiple different genres of video games that people compete in. The gameplay of each genre and game is different for each. However, when looking at some of the biggest tournaments, there are some genres of games that so far have the largest widespread appeal for esports.

First, one of the biggest genres is that of the MOBAs also known as Multiplayer Online Battle Arena. MOBAs are one of the more popular genres and are real time strategy video games with players competing against each other. The most popular games for this genre of esports are League of Legends and Dota 2, which in many Asian countries have led to sold out arenas of 40,000 to 50,000 people.

The next most popular genre would then be the genre of FPS video games, also referred to as First Person Shooter games (though some of these types of games also have players play in the third person). These games have gameplay centered around a player shooting and fighting against other people and is less strategy based then MOBAs. Popular games in this genre include Call of Duty, CSGO, and Fortnite. As time goes on, there may be new types of games that host esports competitions, and technology like VR (virtual reality) which may completely change how gameplay is done.

Position Roles and Responsibilities

esports position roles and responsibilities

Since there are different types of games that are played in esports, it is difficult to give specific examples of roles and responsibilities like you could with normal sports. There aren't specific positions like pitcher or quarterback that you could think of when you think of esports. This is because each game is different and so has people playing different roles with different responsibilities. However, many popular esports games are team competitions, and each team may have a team captain that helps them to organize and strategize what they are going to do.

Rules and Regulations

esports rules and regulations

Rules and regulations in esports are not specific or consistent like those of major professional sports across the world. There are some basic rules that are consistent across multiple tournaments and games. However, there aren't yet legal regulations on the esports industry as the industry is so new.

No nicknames or team names that are offensive or copy a brand: Esport competitors typically have nicknames based around their "gamertag" or nickname in the game that they use. However these names aren't allowed to be offensive or resemble a certain brand.

No cheating/hacking of the game to get a competitive advantage in the game: Since video games already have their sort of rules in place one of the most important things is making sure to prevent "hacking the game" which is typically using separate computer programs that allow the player to do things in the game that aren't allowed and give them an advantage. One common type of hacking is aimbot in which a player will automatically aim and hit their target because of the hack.

No use of performance enhancing drugs or bribery: The use of substances like adderall or any other type of doping that gives a competitor a distinct advantage is forbidden. The bribery of any referees or organizers is strictly prohibited.

Referees and Officials

esports referees and officials

Even though esports isn't physical like traditional sports, there still are tournament admins (referees) on site to ensure that the tournament goes smoothly and that no cheating occurs. The responsibilities of the officials includes: recording the outcome of matches, making sure players stick to the rules, help set up and test the game's server, and making sure that the tournament runs on schedule by preventing stoppages and down time if possible.

Lingo and Terminology

esports lingo and terminology

In video games today there is a unique jargon that many players use commonly when playing. Many of these terms are abbreviations as it is typically easier to quickly type an abbreviation while playing, though some terms can also be used over voice chat to another player also.

GG: Good game. Told to a fellow player after a game has been finished if they think they played well.

Cheesing: A person is using unknown "cheap" tactics within the game to get a competitive advantage. This doesn't mean the person "cheesing" is cheating.

Kappa: A popular emote that people use on the twitch platform that means sarcasm or happiness.

NPC: Stands for "non player character" and are the characters that are controlled by the game not humans.

Salty: Used to describe a person that is upset or annoyed by something in the game.

Skills and Techniques

esports skills and techniques

Skills and techniques are hard to give specifics for in the world of esports. Each game has different mechanics and techniques that are important for them, and different skills vary in importance from game to game. There are certain skills like hand eye coordination and critical thinking that are typically important in most esports.

Good hand eye coordination allows players to react quickly to what's happening in the game, and critical thinking is important as in games oftentimes you have to make split second decisions to react to what's happening. Most importantly for developing skills and techniques is putting the hours into practicing the game. Pro esports players will practice for most of the day to be the best they can be at the game, by sharpening their skills and techniques.

Coaches

esports coaches

Just like other traditional sports, esports also has coaches that help the team. Esports coaches organize practices against other teams, work with players to identify strengths and weaknesses, develop strategies for the team, and help to motivate players and resolve conflicts.

Joey "Youngbuck" Steltenpool (LEC League of Legends): He is one of the top esports coaches in all of the world having won 6 LEC (League of Legends European championship) titles with different rosters of players. He preaches teamwork and creates a friendly atmosphere for players to do their best in.

Danny "Zonic" Sorenson (Astralis CSGO): Zonic himself was one of the best Counter Strike players in all of the world and then transitioned to coaching. With Zonic leading the team they have won 4 CSGO majors with three of them being in succession.

James Crowder (Atlanta Faze, Call of Duty League): Already a 2015 world champion while playing with the FaZe Clan, Crowder recently got into coaching but already got a Coach of the year award in 2019 while he was out on loan to the 100 Thieves team.

Coaching

esports coaching

Coaches in esports help the team by working on strategies for the team to use and analyzing other teams that they face. This is important because having a good strategy for your team is important for winning many team games. This is done by coaches watching back replays or recordings of their own team and the opposing team they are going to face.

Additionally, just like coaches in other sports, they also have to be able to resolve conflicts between players and motivate players. Esports in many cases requires a lot of teamwork, and so good team chemistry is important for winning. Furthermore, motivating players is important especially because sometimes players can get burnt out from playing too much, or not be as concentrated on the next tournament and need to be refocused by the coach.

Strategy

Esports Strategy

Strategy is important as esports is very team oriented. Teams should be on the same page to work together successfully. As esports covers so many different types of games, all of which having major differences between them, there is no one specific strategy that works. Most strategies involve that of team play and trying to analyze the tendencies of the opposing players in order to counter what they are doing.

Drills

Esports Drills

Drills and training is something that is important in esports as the 10,000 hour rule applies to it just like most professions, with players practicing by playing the video game constantly. For example the players on Team Liquid (one of the top League of Legends teams in the world) practice together for 50 hours per week, and play it by themselves far more than that. Additionally, players will typically eat their lunch and dinner while discussing game strategy and reviewing videos of previous matches with their coach. This shows that the amount of hours of practice and preparation that these players put in is not just simply playing the game for fun.

Players and Athletes

esports players and athletes

Some of the biggest stars of esports are the players/athletes that play the game, and in esports there are some great ones that have played across many different games.

Sang Hyeok Lee (Faker) (League of Legends): Faker is widely regarded as one of if not the best League of Legends players of all time playing for the Korean National Team and STK T1 K. He is one of the two people to win the League of Legends World Championship three times.

Daigo Umehara (The Beast) (Street Fighter): Daigo is one of the best Street Fighter players ever, holding the Guinness Record for most successful player in major Street Fighter tournaments ever.

Patrik Lindberg (f0rest) (Counter Strike): Lindberg has played for numerous teams including: Begrip Gaming, Fnatic, Ninjas in Pyjamas, SK Gaming, Swedish National Team. He is considered one of the best CSGO players ever having helped bring Fnatic to become the highest earning team in CS history.

Leagues

Esports League

There are many different leagues in esports depending on not only the game being played, but also the region the game is being played in. With esports continuing to grow and become more popular there will surely be more leagues created in the years to come.

LEAGUELOCATIONLevel
League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK)South KoreaPro
CS:GO Pro LeagueWorldwidePro
Electronic Major League Soccer (eMLS)WorldwidePro
Overwatch LeagueNorth America, South Korea and the United KingdomPro
NBA 2K LeagueUSPro

Brands

Esports Brands

There are many brands that have started to make names for themselves in the esports world and are continually expanding while being valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

WEBSITECATEGORY
Cloud 9Team/Brand
Team SoloMidTeam/Brand
Team LiquidTeam/Brand
FaZe ClanTeam/Brand
MLGBrand/Tournament Host

Youth Organizations

esports youth organizations

While esports is still relatively new, it is starting to be recognized as a real viable form of entertainment, so more youth organizations and ameatur organizations are starting to form. However, there are not many large ones that exist yet.

WEBSITECATEGORY
High School Esports LeagueAmeatur Youth Esports
Super LeagueAmeatur Esports
Gamer LeagueAmeatur Youth Esports
Evolve Youth EsportsAmeatur Youth Esports

Tournaments

Esports Tournaments

Tournaments are where esports started with the first tournaments being held to see who was best at the arcade game in your local arcade. So naturally, tournaments are a huge part of esports today and attract a lot of people and money to the event itself. Below are some of the most well known esports tournaments.

TOURNAMENTLOCATIONLEVEL
Fortnite World Cup Flushing, New YorkPro
League of Legends World ChampionshipVariesPro
The International (Dota 2)VariesPro
Overwatch World CupAnaheim, CaliforniaPro

Books About Esports

Esports Books

With esports not only becoming widely popular, but also becoming a legitimate industry generating over a billion dollars each year, there have now been many books made about the industry and esports itself.

Websites

Esports Websites

There are numerous sites that have to do with Esports including: the games themselves, the brands/teams that play the games, websites of corporate sponsors of these events or teams, and any types of websites with analysis or information on esports, and websites that help stream esports.

WEBSITECATEGORY
TwitchStreaming website for esports
EpicGamesGame/tournament
Cloud 9Brand/Team

FAQ

What is esports?

Electronic gaming, more commonly known as esports, is a relatively new area of sports. While competitive gaming has existed almost as long as video games, it has not gotten the attention of other sports until the last 15 years. Esports is still tough to define, as unlike other competitive sports, there are many video games that can be considered "esports," each with their own rulesets and strategies. The vast majority of games that fall under this category are console games, meaning they are played on consoles or a computer, and therefore these games use controllers dependent on the console.

What is the biggest game in esports?

The biggest game in esports is League of Legends, it is one of the most popular MOBAs ever that attracts millions of fans who watch the major tournaments and matches.

Is Esports a real sport?

Esports is always something that is being debated as a real sport or not as it has come more and more into mainstream media. However, while there will always be people who don't believe it's a sport, the more important fact is the esports industry is worth over a billion dollars so whether you believe it's a real sport or not there is money and careers that are made in it.

Will Esports be in the Olympics?

The Paris 2024 Olympics as of now plan to host some demonstration esports events. However, these esports will be sport related video games as any video games that involve violence are not going to be shown at the Olympics as decided upon by the IOC.

How are Esports played?

Esports are played on either a computer or some type of gaming console in which players play online against each other in a variety of games.

What is Esports speedrunning?

Another less popular form of esports is speedrunning. Speedrunners attempt to complete a game as fast as possible, many of them utilizing glitches within the game in order to complete hours of gametime in minutes. Typically, speedrunners are competing against the world record time, however at many events two or more people will race to complete the game as fast as possible. There are many different categories of speedrunning depending on the game, with some runs requiring the player to complete the game 100% while other categories forbid the speedrunner from using glitches.