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There are two elements that play crucial roles in helping a game to succeed as an esport; enjoyability and balance. The first is simple because if a game isn't fun to play, then it's not going to be enjoyable to watch and players will lose interest quickly.
On the other hand, balance is key because otherwise the game becomes uninteresting. For example, if one gun was outright better than all of the others in Counter-Strike, nobody would use anything else and each match would be incredibly repetitive.
One example of an almost-perfect experience with regards to balance is Rocket League esports. Everyone is on an identical playing field aside from the car, which has a negligible effect on gameplay anyway - it results in a high skill ceiling and the concept is accessible for newcomers, since it's simply football with flying cars.
There's no catch-all solution to tune in to esports events, but the overwhelming majority will be streamed on Twitch.
To find the specific events taking place, the website Esports Calendar is a handy resource that lists most events happening for the bigger games in the esports industry.
Pretty much every single esports event will be streamed live, whether it's the biggest annual competition or a regional qualifier for a league. Most streams can be accessed via the "watch" button on the right-hand side of each listed event, but the calendar only has the top games.
For other titles, simply google the game name followed by "esports", and you'll be led to the right place. Most games will have ranked modes and playlists you can jump into via the game itself.
You'll be matchmade with others online and often — but not always — this mode will have slightly different rules than the standard game, with some restrictions or timer differences.
During the s, esports grew tremendously, incurring a large increase in both viewership and prize money. The proliferation of tournaments included experimentation with competitions outside traditional esports genres.
The popularity and emergence of online streaming services have helped the growth of esports in this period, and are the most common method of watching tournaments.
Twitch , an online streaming platform launched in , routinely streams popular esports competitions. In , viewers of the platform watched 12 billion minutes of video on the service, with the two most popular Twitch broadcasters being League of Legends and Dota 2.
The modern esports boom has also seen a rise in video games companies embracing the esports potential of their products.
After many years of ignoring and at times suppressing the esports scene, Nintendo hosted Wii Games Summer Spanning over a month, the tournament had over , participants, making it the largest and most expansive tournament in the company's history.
In Nintendo hosted an invitational Super Smash Bros. In , the largest independent esports league, Electronic Sports League , partnered with the local brand Japan Competitive Gaming to try and grow esports in the country.
Physical viewership of esports competitions and the scope of events have increased in tandem with the growth of online viewership.
Labeling video games as sports is a controversial topic. China was one of the first countries to recognize esport as a real sport in , despite concerns at the time that video games were addicting.
Through this, the government encouraged esport, stating that by participating in esports, players were also "training the body for China".
In , Turkey's Ministry of Youth and Sports started issuing esports Player licenses to players certified as professionals. In , the French government started working on a project to regulate and recognize esports.
To help promote esports as a legitimate sport, several esports events have been run alongside more traditional international sports competitions. The Asian Indoor Games was the first notable multi-sport competition including esports as an official medal-winning event alongside other traditional sports, and the later editions of the Asian Indoor Games and its successor the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games have always included esports as an official medal event or an exhibition event up to now.
Moreover, the Asian Games , which is the Asian top-level multi-sport competition, will also include esports as a medal event at the edition ; esports around games such as Hearthstone , Starcraft II , and League of Legends were presented as an exhibition event at the Asian Games as a lead-in to the games.
In and , World Sailing held an eSailing World Championship that showed a main sports federation embracing esports.
The Olympic Games are also seen as a potential method to legitimize esports. A summit held by the International Olympic Committee IOC in October acknowledged the growing popularity of esports, concluding that "Competitive 'esports' could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports" but would require any games used for the Olympics fitting "with the rules and regulations of the Olympic movement".
The issues around esports have not prevented the IOC from exploring what possibilities there are for incorporation into future Olympics.
Leaders in Japan are becoming involved to help bring esports to the Summer Olympics and beyond, given the country's reputation as a major video game industry center.
Esports in Japan had not flourished due to the country's anti-gambling laws that also prevent paid professional gaming tournaments, but there were efforts starting in late to eliminate this issue.
Takeo Kawamura , a member of the Japanese House of Representatives and of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party , led a collation of ruling and opposing politicians to support esports, called the Japan esports Union, or JeSU;  Kawamura said that they would be willing to pass laws to further exempt esports as needed so that esports athletes can make a living playing these sports.
So far, this has resulted in the ability of esports players to obtain exemption licenses to allow them to play, a similar mechanism needed for professional athletes in other sports in Japan to play professionally.
The organization committee for the Summer Olympics in Paris were in discussions with the IOC and the various professional esport organizations to consider esports for the event, citing the need to include these elements to keep the Olympics relevant to younger generations.
During the Eighth Olympic Summit in December , the IOC reiterated that it would only consider sports-simulating games for any official Olympic event, but it would look at two paths for such games in the future: those that promoted good physical and mental health lifestyles, and virtual reality and augmented reality games that included physical activity.
A number of games are popular among professional competitors. The tournaments which emerged in the mids coincided with the popularity of fighting games and first-person shooters , genres which still maintain a devoted fan base.
While it is common for video games to be designed with the experience of the player in game being the only priority, many successful esports games have been designed to be played professionally from the beginning.
Developers may decide to add dedicated esports features, or even make design compromises to support high level competition. Games such as StarCraft II ,  League of Legends ,  and Dota 2  have all been designed, at least in part, to support professional competition.
In addition to allowing players to participate in a given game, many game developers have added dedicated observing features for the benefit of spectators.
This can range from simply allowing players to watch the game unfold from the competing player's point of view, to a highly modified interface that gives spectators access to information even the players may not have.
The state of the game viewed through this mode may tend to be delayed by a certain amount of time in order to prevent either teams in a game from gaining a competitive advantage.
In response to the release of virtual reality headsets in , some games, such as Dota 2 , were updated to include virtual reality spectating support.
A very common method for connection is the Internet. Game servers are often separated by region, but high quality connections allow players to set up real-time connections across the world.
Downsides to online connections include increased difficulty detecting cheating compared to physical events, and greater network latency , which can negatively impact players' performance, especially at high levels of competition.
Many competitions take place online, especially for smaller tournaments and exhibition games. Since the s, professional teams or organized clans have set up matches via Internet Relay Chat networks such as QuakeNet.
As esports have developed, it has also become common for players to use automated matchmaking clients built into the games themselves.
This was popularized by the release of Blizzard's Battle. Automated matchmaking has become commonplace in console gaming as well, with services such as Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.
After competitors have contacted each other, the game is often managed by a game server , either remotely to each of the competitors, or running on one of the competitor's machines.
Additionally, competitions are also often conducted over a local area network or LAN. The smaller network usually has very little lag and higher quality.
Because competitors must be physically present, LANs help ensure fair play by allowing direct scrutiny of competitors. This helps prevent many forms of cheating, such as unauthorized hardware or software modding.
The physical presence of competitors helps create a more social atmosphere at LAN events. Individual games have taken various approaches to LAN support.
These teams often cover multiple esports games within tournaments and leagues, with various team makeups for each game.
They may also represent single players for one-on-one esports games like fighting games within Evolution Championship Series , or Hearthstone tournaments.
In addition to prize money from tournament wins, players in these teams and associations may also be paid a separate team salary.
Team sponsorship may cover tournament travel expenses or gaming hardware. Prominent esports sponsors include companies such as Logitech and Razer.
While different from the regimens of traditional sports, esports athletes still have extensive training routines. Team Liquid, a professional League of Legends team, practice for a minimum of 50 hours per week and most play the game far more.
Players are generally in competition by their mid- to late-teens, with most retiring by their lates. In most team-based esports, organized play is centered around the use of promotion and relegation to move sponsored teams between leagues within the competition's organization based on how the team fared in matches; this follows patterns of professional sports in European and Asian countries.
Teams will play a number of games across a season as to vie for top positioning in the league by the end of that season. Those that do well, in addition to prize money, may be promoted into a higher-level league, while those that fare poorly can be regulated downward.
Teams that did not do well were relegated to the League of Legends Challenger Series , replaced by the better performing teams from that series.
This format was discontinued when Riot opted to use the franchise format in mid With rising interest in viewership of esports, some companies sought to create leagues that followed the franchise approach used in North American professional sports , in which all teams, backed by a major financial sponsor to support the franchise, participate in a regular season of matches to vie for top standing as to participate in the post-season games.
This approach is more attractive for larger investors, who would be more willing to back a team that remains playing in the esport's premiere league and not threatened to be relegated to a lower standing.
While there is no team promotion or relegation, players can be signed onto contracts, traded among teams, or let go as free agents, and new players may be pulled from the esports' equivalent minor league.
The first such league to be formed was the Overwatch League , established by Blizzard Entertainment in based on its Overwatch game. It is the first esports league to be operated by a professional sports league, and the NBA sought to have a League team partially sponsored by each of the 30 professional NBA teams.
Its inaugural season is set to start May with 17 teams. Activision launched its team Call of Duty League in January , following the format of the Overwatch League but based on the Call of Duty series.
Cloud9 and Dignitas, among others, have started development of a franchise-based Counter-Strike: Global Offensive league, Flashpoint, in February This will be the first such esports league to be owned by the teams rather than any single organization.
Esports are also frequently played in tournaments, where potential players and teams vie to be placed through qualification matches before entering the tournament.
From there, the tournament formats can vary from single or double elimination , sometimes hybridized with group stage. The tournament may be part of a larger gathering, such as Dreamhack , or the competition may be the entirety of the event, like the World Cyber Games or the Fortnite World Cup.
Esport competitions have also become a popular feature at gaming and multi-genre conventions. Although competitions involving video games have long existed, esports underwent a significant transition in the late s.
Beginning with the Cyberathlete Professional League in , tournaments became much larger, and corporate sponsorship became more common. Increasing viewership both in person and online brought esports to a wider audience.
The average compensation for professional esports players does not compare to those of the top classical sports organizations in the world.
While prizes for esports competitions can be very large, the limited number of competitions and large number of competitors ultimately lowers the amount of money one can make in the industry.
For well established games, total prize money can amount to millions of U. Often, game developers provide prize money for tournament competition directly,  but sponsorship may also come from third parties, typically companies selling computer hardware , energy drinks , or computer software.
Generally, hosting a large esports event is not profitable as a stand-alone venture. There is considerable variation and negotiation over the relationship between video game developers and tournament organizers and broadcasters.
While the original StarCraft events emerged in South Korea largely independently of Blizzard, the company decided to require organizers and broadcasters to authorize events featuring the sequel StarCraft II.
In addition to professional and amateur esports, esports have drawn attention of colleges and high schools since Along with the bursting popularity of Esports over the last two decades came a demand for extended opportunities for Esport's athletes.
Universities across the world mostly China and America began offering scholarship opportunities to incoming freshmen to join their collegiate Esports teams.
According to Schaeperkoetter and others, the potential impact that an eSports program could have on a university, coupled with the growing interest that universities are showing in such a program, combine to make this line of research relevant in sport literature.
As of , over colleges has esports-based variety programs. While game publishers or esport broadcasters typically act in oversight roles for specific esports, a number of esport governing bodies have been established to collectively represent esports on a national, regional or global basis.
These governing bodies may have various levels of involvement with the esport, from being part of esports regulation to simply acting more as a trade group and public face for esports.
Originally formed in to help promote esports in the southeast Asian region, it has grown to include 56 member countries from across the global.
This body was designed more to be a managing partner for other esports, working to coordinate event structures and regulations across multiple esports.
Additionally, trade groups representing video games have also generally acted as governing bodies for esports. Notably, in November , five major national trade organizations - the Entertainment Software Association in the United States, the Entertainment Software Association of Canada , The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment , Interactive Software Federation of Europe , and the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association of Australian and New Zealand - issued a joined statement for supporting the promotion and participation of esports to respect player safety and integrity, respect and diversity among players, and enriching game play.
Pro gamers are usually obligated to behave ethically, abiding by both the explicit rules set out by tournaments, associations, and teams, as well as following general expectations of good sportsmanship.
For example, it is common practice and considered good etiquette to chat "gg" for "good game" when defeated. In a prominent example of good conduct, during a IEM StarCraft II game, the players Feast and DeMusliM both voluntarily offered information about their strategies to negate the influence of outside information inadvertently leaked to "Feast" during the game.
In professional League of Legends player Christian "IWillDominate" Riviera was banned from competing for a period of one year following a history of verbal abuse.
Team Siren, an all-female League of Legends team, was formed in June The announcement of the team was met with controversy, being dismissed as a "gimmick" to attract the attention of men.
The gaming industry is fueled by the development of great games, but also gamers willing to dedicate significant hours every day to hone their craft.
The very best of these gamers compete in the world of Esports. Esports is short for electronic sports.
It is a form of competition where professional gamers square off either in teams or individually. Competitions take place in a multiplayer setting, and there are typically cash prizes awarded at the end of tournaments.
Sam Churchhill, Flickr. Esports traces its origins back to , when a Space Invaders Championship yielded 10, participants.
Fast forward to , and the legendary Starcraft 2 tournament on PC boasted more than 50 million online viewers, 17 million of those coming from Twitch.
As the s rolled around, Esports gained serious momentum. After sponsorship comes media rights and advertising. This sector has seen drastic growth due to the target audience of Esports being untethered to traditional media.
For example, live streaming software is a popular method of broadcasting Esports events. As a matter of fact, gamers ages spend 77 percent more time watching other people playing online than watching broadcast sports.
There are roughly million total viewers of Esports today, however, that number is expected to surge over the next few years.
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