Inspired by recent TEDx talk at TEDxUCIrvine about eSports, I wanted to share my thoughts about eSports popularity.

To begin, what’s eSports? eSports stand for electronic sport. As with normal sports such as football (or soccer), basketball, hockey, etc, a person or group of people are competing against each other to become the very best. One major difference is that eSports uses games on different platform and turn them into competitive matches.

MLG StarCraft II
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Now, before you start saying it’s not a real sport because it does not involve a physical activity, let me point you guys out to a sport called chess :). Unlike majority of sports out there, chess does not require a person to do some sort of physical exercise and moving a chess piece does not count as one. Similar to how we use our hands to move chess pieces, we use our hands on mouse, keyboard or joystiq to compete.

With the release of StarCraft II back in 2010, a game developed by Blizzard, eSports are becoming widely popular especially in North America. Before Star Craft II was out, eSports are barely heard as there weren’t that many tournaments back then compare to now. Before, all we heard was World Cup Gaming (WCG) and it involves games such as Counter Strike, Halo and a lot of fighting games. After Star Craft II was released, I heard many tournaments such as MLG (Major League Gaming), NASL (North America Star League), GSL (Global Starcraft League), AHGL (After Hours Gaming League), IPL (IGN Pro League) and many others small and medium tournaments.

Just like any kind of sports, there are spectators such as myself cheering for my favourite teams or pro gamers and maybe enjoy a beer or two while watching :). In addition, there are commentators (known as casters in SC II scene) who gives prediction, comments on each player/team, etc just like regular sports commentators. To name a few, individuals such as @day9tv, @dApollo1337, @Totalbiscuit, @HuskyStarcraft, @Artosis, @Tasteless, @djWHEAT, @itmeJP, @followgrubby and many many more, also plays a big part in spreading the eSports fame. Thanks to social media such as Twitter and Facebook, eSports are gaining more and more audiences every day.

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My favourite football club is Arsenal in English Premier League. On Arsenal’s jersey, it shows its sponsor which is Fly Emirates just like any other football clubs out there. Now, if we compare to Star Craft II, we haven’t reach to a point where big companies are willing to support Star Craft II teams but we are heading there for sure.

Evil Geniuses
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Starcraft II team such as Evil Geniuses has a lot of big companies as sponsors such as Intel, Kingston and Steel Series. As the popularity of eSports grows, I am hoping there will be more and more teams similar to EG with big sponsors. One thing that I noticed is a lot of sponsors for Star Craft II teams is related to computer components manufacturer since it’s closely related to gaming. While eSports are gaining more audiences, I believe it will still take some time to mature before big companies not related to computers are willing to sponsor Starcraft 2 teams.

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Considering a sport like football (soccer) who has 100+ years of history, will eSports rise its fame on par with sports like football? I have no doubt that it will within a year or two considering the amount of social media platforms that we have these days and technology which allows us to enjoy live matches from wherever we are (Live Streaming). Live streaming actually gives birth to eSports bar called BarCraft. Granted that it only shows StarCraft matches, I can imagine soorner or later there will be more eSports bar.

Are there any BarCrafts in your area ? and do you notice an increased popularity of eSports especially StarCraft II in your area ? I don’t think Toronto has a BarCraft but I might be wrong.

PS: NASL Season 3 finals will be Toronto, anyone going ?