Before I discovered e-sports I sort of knew there were tournaments held around the world, never anything like a world tournament but maybe indie tournaments. I’m a massive Soul Calibur fan and good at it too so tt university I would host a few of tournaments for my friends and I. Nothing big, just £2 in and winner takes all. Of course, I wasn’t allowed to compete in my own tournament, wouldn’t want them to think I was hustling them now would I?
I considered myself a competitive gamer because I used to play Call of Duty and fighting games religiously. The first time I discovered pro e-sports I was playing Starcraft II even though I despise RTS games! It’s nothing to do with the games themselves, I’m just really bad at them! The reason I play Starcraft II is because I like how diverse it is. There’s just something really cool about watching human marines smash against alien ugliness on a massive scale.
There was a King of The Hill tournament advertised on the main menu which caught my curiosity. KoTH in RTS terms was basically winner-stays-on but there was a nice cash prize for $2,000. I followed the tournament up on Youtube so I could watch the whole thing and my eyes were opened to a whole new league of gaming that simply blew my mind. $2,000 is a nice prize for the winner but it seems small right? Well I did some research:
Call Of Duty – 2013 World Championships $1,000,000 prize pool.
Starcraft II – 2014 Intel Extreme Masters – $100,000 for the winner.
Dawn Of The Ancients 2 (DOTA2) – 2011 World Championship – $1,000,000 prize pool.
League of Legends – 2012 and 2013 World Championship -$3,000,000 with $1,000,000 guranteed to the winning team. League of Legends is free. You and 4 of your friends can pick the game up now and take a shot at the $1,000,000 prize.
The League of One
I really like Starcraft because it’s flashy to watch and the pro scene is brutal. It’s not like team based e-sports such as Call of Duty or League of Legends because the game was designed around 1 vs 1 matchups. When those players are out there, there’s no one watching their backs if they make mistakes. The world championship is a knockout tournament so for each player it’s basically Scott Pilgrim vs the 100 evil ex’s.
Following the players and seeing their journeys unfold is an epic tale in itself. I’ve been watching an exceptional player over the past year or so named Lee Jae Dong a.k.a Jaedong, a.k.a The Tyrant and rightfully so. He was well renown for his ability in Starcraft: Brood War which is how he picked up his nickname as the tyrant. Watching him struggle to adjust to Starcraft II and its recent Heart of The Swarm expansion had me a bit emotional.
There were so many times I sat on the edge of my seat thinking, if he gets another loss then he’s going to retire. I like this hidden story in the pro scene. It doesn’t matter how good you are, the competition is fierce. Jaedong’s career suggests that he has better odds of winning than any other Starcraft player in the world yet he consistently got 2nds and 3rds during 2013.
Each and every pro player goes through these troubles. Think about it, if they start losing games they lose sponsorships as well as the prize money. If they lose that where are their skills transferable? Because a McDonald’s cash register requires 250 actions per minute to handle customer orders!? It’s a hard road to walk and seeing the players bring out their passion and tenacity onto the battlefield is spectacular.
League of Our Own
I was introduced to League of Legends by one of my friends and it has been a challenge for me to learn this game, because the controls are similar to an RTS. Through my friend I started following the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) and this for me is my football. Like I said earlier it’s free and there’s a nice tidy $1,000,000 up for grabs so why wouldn’t I play it?
I think the biggest factor in playing popular e-sports games and becoming an e-sports fan is that little part of me which says “I could do that”. When you play football in your spare time you say to yourself “with time and effort I could be a pro player”, some of us have even thought “I could have been a pro player if I got scouted”. E-sports brings you closer to that belief. You don’t need to be scouted in order to become a pro player, you just have to prove your skill online and you will qualify for the world championships.
I like e-sports in this way because it is a system that rewards players for their hard work. I’m not saying sports like football don’t, it’s a fact that you cannot get into the World Cup Finals with a bunch of your friends just because you like and play football. Because all e-sport games are on computers/consoles, you don’t need to be lucky enough to get a scout, you’ll have automatic invites to tournaments based on your online score.
Even if you don’t feel like you can go pro, the community backing e-sports is incredible. Google the term ‘Barcraft’ and you will see that people visit the pub to watch Starcraft II tournaments together. Blizzcon is home to Sarcraft’s most prestigious event which has been visited by the likes of Blink-182, Tenacious D as well as 25,000 – 30,000 attendees. If you’ve ever heard of DreamHack, each year in Sweden is a gaming festival that houses 20,000 gamers with live Djs like Avicii and Darude. DreamHack is on my bucket list and one day I will afford it!
Join in the fun!
There are two main organisations that host and stream tournaments for competitive games. Here you will find streams for Call of Duty: Ghosts, Battlefield 4, League of Legends, Starcraft 2, DOTA2, and many more.
Electronic Sports League (ESL) is an organisation which provide hosting for sponsored tournaments like the Intel Extreme Masters. They also manage world tournaments for all competitive games including consoles. On their site they host their own e-sports ‘TV’ channel:
http://www.esl.eu/uk/ – Main Page
http://en.esl.tv/ – TV channel (can choose your preferred game to watch here)
MLG is an organisation like ESL they host and stream tournaments for a number of competetive games:
If you want to find out more about League of Legends then these links are for you:
http://euw.leagueoflegends.com/ – European download for the game.
http://euw.lolesports.com/ – Multiple sites that stream the LCS live.
http://www.probuilds.net/ – Tips, tricks, game analysis and builds from games played by pro players as they happen.
For those interested in Starcraft II:
http://eu.battle.net/sc2/en/ – Official site with download for the free Starter Edition.
http://wcs.battle.net/ – Live streams of all the major tournaments hosted by ESL.
http://wiki.teamliquid.net/starcraft2/Main_Page – Everything Starcraft II ever from pro player biographies to in-depth game strategy.