A New Year in E-Sports
By Umar Farooq (Kluey), OnRPG Journalist
For those uninformed on what E-Sports is, refer to this article: http://www.onrpg.com/MMO/Starcraft-II/review/What-is-E-Sports
2011 has been a great year for E-sports especially in the West. We’ve gone from two bleachers each being half empty and consisting of only men to small meet-ups organized on Twitter getting kicked out of malls because of the riot potential. We’ve gone from a 5,000 USD tournament hitting the front page of every gaming website to a million dollar tournament that was casually viewed. When you think about it, it’s hard to comprehend this massive change. Now that 2011 has come to an end, we think about this next year for E-Sports and the potential it has to change everything we know about sports. We might not have Monday night Football but rather, Saturday night Starcraft. We might not have the NBA lockout but rather the MLG lockout. Of course those are somewhat farfetched ideas to some but to others, it may seem like normal progression. Even if E-Sports doesn’t become so mainstream, 2012 will definitely change E-Sports.
Changing the Definition of a Gamer
Gaming in the West has always had a negative look to it. When an average bulky football fan pictured a gamer, the common stereotype was an overweight, socially excluded nerd with hygiene issues who spends 14 hours a day on his computer. In 2012, I expect that to change. A gamer should be known as a person with a favourite sport who loves to practice it. This is partially because of the revenue that is generated from gaming. In a recession, MLG generated some crazy numbers in terms of revenue. A crowd of 20,000 with most being from other countries/states showed up to fill the seats, much to the approval of nearby hotels. Many people will stay in a hotel for the 3 day period they are there and that’s some insane revenue generated from a branch of e-commerce. Of course don’t forget the local stadium food venders who are brimming with constant lines of 40 people during the 3 hour lunch period.
Before and After, Gamers do not disappoint.
The second reason for a change of the definition of a gamer in the West is simply the increased acceptance of technology in youthful circles. Everyone’s daughter or son will either play games or watch gamers play games. Even crazier than that, businesses will be afraid to criticize gamers as it will be similar to what happened to GoDaddy when they supported the SOPA bill. People will boycott them and destroy their business.
Games that will Become a Major E-Sport
Call me biased but, Starcraft 2 will be huge in 2012. The increase in sheer numbers from 2010 going into 2011 and now ending 2011 was insane and unpredictable. Prize money, crowd numbers, sponsorship money or even forum/blogger discussion posts related to tournaments have all shot up exponentially in this time period.
Although it is impossible to talk about all the reasons for this in one article (it would be more of a senior thesis), my primary guess is the rise of live streaming websites and star players utilizing them to build reputations outside of officially tournaments. I stumbled upon Starcraft 2 because of a stream and I know many other people have too. Any gaming stream website you go to, Starcraft 2 will most likely be on the front page. Streaming has also made the game much more enjoyable. I no longer think of Starcraft 2 as only what I have experienced from playing it but also by what the stream has shown me.
2012 for Starcraft 2 will be everything we have in 2011 minus the amateur mistakes caused by inexperienced organizers.
SlayerS’MMA being tossed into the air after winning Blizzard Cup 2011 in the best series of Starcraft 2
Counter Strike is weird for me because it’s doing really good but, unless you play Counter Strike you most likely won’t be watching Counter Strike. I think with Counter Strike: Global Offensive being released, the community will get many new members. While they might be unskilled or not even play the game long-term, the tournaments will benefit greatly.
Like many games today, graphics matter. A parent looking for a game to buy as a gift will not look for how well made the game is. They will look for the popularity, shelf placement, and graphics. Counter Strike: Global Offensive fits both of these categories so theoretically, it should be the next big competitive FPS.
2012 for Counter Strike will be “make or break” in my opinion. If the game starts to decline in a business perspective, most likely there will be no future. If it starts to increase, we could see a new generation of FPS E-Sports.
League of Legends
I don’t know how or why but, this game just attracts such a huge crowd. This game is one of the prime success stories of E-Sports in the western hemisphere. Riot has promised 5 million dollars in tournaments for this next season and if that isn’t enough for you already, Korean’s have started playing this game too. The StarTale house has made a team (don’t know if this is public or not as of right now)
UpCloseGamers tour of the StarTale house in the League of Legends room.
Korean’s have been infamous for owning white dudes being the best at whichever game their country starts to play professionally. If League of Legends blows up in Korea, there will be no stopping it. The live crowds are always huge in Korea and the online EU and NA crowds are always ready.
A million dollar tournament was held before the game was even near release. I would be crazy to say that DotA 2 will not be a huge success with that type of support behind it. With Valve as the support, DotA 1 as the carry and League of Legends along with Heroes of Newerth as the feeders, DotA 2 will be a powerhouse in the 2012 E-Sports scene. There isn’t much to say as this is one of those games that has been established already and can only go upwards.
I could be very wrong about everything or spot on. If everything goes as planned, 2012 will be unpredictable. E-Sports’ growth in the West is what interests me most as gamers have always been rejected from the typical sporting scene. With the likes of ESPN and G4 hinting that we will see games on television soon, MLG hitting record high numbers, E-Sports getting talked about on the news and new gamers coming in from all directions, you cannot say that 2011 hasn’t set the stage for an E-Sports industry in 2012 that will be bigger, better and badder than ever before.