In a world that idolizes traditional sports centered around robustness and brute strength, eSports are often overlooked.
Last week, Seattle hosted the largest eSports tournament in the world. The 7th iteration of The International featured teams of nerds from all over the world competing for a prize of $11 million. To put this into perspective, Tom Brady earned $183,000 for winning this past Super Bowl, only a fraction of what team members that win the International earn.
Teams play Dota 2, a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game that involves an incredibly quick reaction time and a whole lot of strategy. Prior to each match, the players take turns drafting heroes, the characters which they play the game. Each hero has different abilities and attributes that can give the player an edge over their opponents. Using their heroes, players compete to destroy the other team’s Ancient, the structure that lies in the middle of each team’s base. There are many other aspects that add to the intricacy of the game. Because of its complexity, Dota 2 is often compared to the game of chess.
This year, Team Liquid, made up of mostly European players, clinched The International title. Team Liquid beat the odds after being knocked down to the loser’s bracket in the first round of the playoffs. They came back after playing 14 matches to beat Team Newbee, who only played 8, in the Grand Final. Liquid swept Newbee after winning the first 3 of 5 matches in the series. Newbee’s hearts shouldn’t be completely shattered, as they still walked away with $3,929,394.
One would not be able to tell the difference between the crowd of a traditional sport event and the crowd of The International at Key Arena. Fans chanted their team’s name and enthusiastically screamed their support when the action would pick up just as football or basketball fans would. Fans at Key Arena shelled out around $200 a ticket for the event just as football or basketball fans would as well.
Although eSports look different than the traditional sports we are used to, the differences are not that extreme. Both take skill. Both have huge payouts for winners. Both have crazed fans. It just goes to show that eSports are sports too.