eSports Absolutely Should Be Qualified as a Professional Sport

Just give me a second, and let me explain myself.

By Alec Thomas

So first off, a lot of you are probably thinking that right off the bat, no, eSports should not be qualified as a regular sport. But hold on for just one second, and let us educate those that might be asking, “What is an eSport?” Well for those of you legitimately living under a rock for the past 15 years, eSports is short for an Electronic Sport. Most specifically computer games played online, you might recognize some of the names as we go through this argument, and I hope you keep an open mind to what I have to say. So why shouldn’t eSports be qualified as a sport? Because it doesn’t make any sense? Because there’s no physical activity and there’s no way for it to be considered a sport in the first place? Because it doesn’t require anything, and anyone can be good at a game? Well, that’s just dumb. Hopefully, however, I’ll be here to change your mind on this obscene issue, one step at a time.

Okay. So yeah, you’re right, there is almost no physical activity in eSports; however, the parallels that can be drawn from sports to eSports are actually very similar. A lot of professional sports require the players on a certain team to have skill. Skill is something that easily be measured in professional sports, like basketball or soccer, with just raw talent. There is clearly a line difference between the professional and recreational style of gameplay. Some people believe that there is no way to measure eSports skill in gaming, and that’s where they’re all wrong.

Just like physical sports, eSports have a very clear line between the professional and recreational play. In fact, eSports have a very organized system to determine a player’s rank. In most online video games, such as League of Legends or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, there is a system designed to measure a player’s skill. This system is called either MMR or ELO,  and the higher this number of ELO or MMR (Match-Making Rank) is on your profile, the better you are qualified on the game. All professional eSports players are the highest ranks or have the highest MMR in the game, and these are people that have been playing their professional game for years, trying to climb the ranks to get to the top. And while it might seem a little weird at first, some universities across the nation have started to allow students to play varsity in eSports, such as Robert Morris University-Illinois, which is the first university to do so in 2014.

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Additionally, it is a widely held misconception that eSports also don’t require a game plan, that most players just walk into the game and just play the game as normal. But in fact, once again, eSports actually requires more strategy than any normal sport. Unlike sports such as basketball, when you’re losing a game of League or CS:GO, you’re behind in so much more than just points.

In games like League, called MOBA’s (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), there are much more than just “points,” there’s an entire system of factors that can contribute to you winning or losing the game; such as Gold, the in game currency; Objectives, like how many out towers you’ve destroyed or how many recurrent spawning dragons you’ve slain in game; and also Kills, such as how many times you’ve slain an enemy. In basketball, there’s just points, it’s the only thing you can be down in basketball when you’re losing. It doesn’t hinder you to let an enemy score a basket. One mistake in League could potentially cost you the entire game. A game of League is so much more complicated and distinct to winning a game.

With CS:GO, it is a little bit more complicated. You’re able to buy better weapons in CS:GO with in game currency that you can receive through shooting other players inside of the game; the more currency you have, the better guns you can buy, therefore pushing an advantage. The whole point of Counter-Strike is for the Terrorists to plant the bomb and win the round (lasting two and a half minutes, which is a best of 30 round format), while the Counter-Terrorists have to stop the Terrorists. There are huge prize pools for national tournaments for Counter-Strike or League that can range over millions of dollars as the first place prize. This can correlate directly to any huge national sport tournament like the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals, where there’s huge prizes with a lot of skill behind each team.

Another huge part of eSports is the fact that it’s a type of sport that requires just as much game sense and brain power. Using soccer as an example, you need to be aware of everything in the game at one point, whether that’s finding where your teammates are, where the enemy is, or where the ball is. There’s a lot to micromanage. This theory can be drawn directly into the psychological and mental skill it is required to play League or CS:GO. With League, you have to be paying attention to different objectives, other players in game, or even game sense (knowing when and how to execute a proper defense). With CS:GO, it’s the same aspects, except a monumental aspect is to hear other players in the game. There’s sound cues inside of the game, which require a keen ear to listen for, and to then take advantage over (i.e. if you hear a player’s footsteps behind you, you’ll try to face that direction and prepare for them).

Lastly, a huge part of any game is the team morale. In basketball or football, if you’re losing, the team morale is bound to be low, but it’s through getting your team to get together and persevere through it to try to pull a win out of nowhere. This parallel is very similar to League or CSGO, where team morale is bound to be down, and it can be especially hard for teams to win when one of the teammates is yelling at another person. To raise the morale of your team, no matter if you’re playing basketball or League, you need to persevere through it to try to win. It’s just that with eSports, it’s a lot harder to come back from a great loss.

So hopefully, I’ve changed your mind a bit to seeing that there’s a lot of similarities that can be found throughout both eSports and regular sports, and when we actually look at it, it’s not far off from being a normal sport. While many people believe that eSports cannot even be considered a sport, it should be clearly shown throughout this article that just a “lack of physicality” is the barrier between a sport and a professional sport. Have a great day, and don’t die.

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