The Difference Between Sports and Esports

Mankind has always been competitive. In fact, the Greek Olympics, which is the inspiration to our modern day one, is thought to have begun in 776 BC. Thanks to today’s advances in technology, we have a new kind of sport joining the fray, and with it, millions of players worldwide competing to be the best.

Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with esports being a real sport, and it usually sparks heated debates, with people arguing on both sides.

Most people against the legitimacy of esports often argue that real athletes hone their skill for years, and work hard to get to where they are. Many attribute an athlete’s talent, motivation, training, belief in oneself, and luck to their success, while failing to see that it’s the same for esport professionals.

Fortunately, however, it seems as though more and more people are leaning towards esports being a legitimate competition.

Recent tournaments, such as the League of Legends World Championship, clips of which are shown in the video above, has garnered more unique views this year, 58 million, than previous installments. This number is higher than the viewership that some traditional sports receive, such as the NBA finals, whose highest viewership was almost 36 million in 1998. League of Legends’ viewership even reached over half of the 2018 Super Bowl’s, which capped at 103 million viewers.

In addition, esports prize money is no laughing matter. The International 2017: Dota 2 Championships had a prize pool of $24,687,919, with the winning team receiving $10,862,683 of it.

That’s more than the $107,000 that each member of the New England Patriots won for placing first in the Super Bowl that same year.

Granted, this prize pool was only available thanks to Dota 2 fans crowd sourcing the sum, but that just goes to show how much fans are willing to give in order for the sport to grow.

The reason for this is simply because it’s just fun to watch. Just like many people get excited when they’re cheering for their favorite sports team, people become fired up when their favorite teams or players make amazing plays.

Not only that, esports is unique in that there are many different games in which professional players can compete in.

While many of the games are team oriented such as the first person shooter, Overwatch:

Players can also compete in single player games such as the fighting game, Street Fighter III:

As you can see, the crowd goes wild during that clip’s comeback. Pro player Daigo, who is playing the character Ken, has just a sliver of health remaining, yet managed to parried a 15 hit special attack that would have killed him otherwise. After parrying the final hit, he finishes off his competitor Justin Wong with his character’s own special move.

This moment in esports history inspired many of today’s pro players in the fighting game scene.

And just like other sports, commentators are there to hype the crowd up, comment on, or explain the plays to the people watching. Even if you don’t fully understand what’s happening, you can listen to their commentaries and enjoy the cheers of those around you.

As technology helps the scene grow even further, we will likely see a hybrid between sports and esports, especially as virtual reality becomes more mainstream, and allows for a unique blend of the mental exertion of video games, with the physical exertion of other sports.

In fact, the first ever virtual reality challenger league recently concluded earlier this year.

With its growing popularity, even the Olympics have started to take notice. Two days before the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics, Sasha “Scarlett” Hostyn took first place in the Intel Extreme Masters Pyeongchang Starcraft II tournament. Although it wasn’t an official Olympic event, it was “the first esports competition with an official tie to the Olympics.”

Who knows, maybe we’ll even begin to see the first esports competition at the Olympics in 2020.