The rise of eSports

Some of the first things that come to mind when thinking about sport are exercise, physical exertion and the outdoors. But with the rise of eSports, the traditional definition of sport has started to blur.

Multiplayer games which allow users to play against each other in real time are most commonly used for eSports. In fact, some game developers have begun to make games with multi-player functionality in mind specifically for competitive tournaments and events.

Events and competitions focus on specific game types: First-person shooters (think Counter Strike or Call of Duty), real-time strategy (StarCraft), fighting (Mortal Kombat), multiplayer online battle arena (DOTA 2) and “real-world” sports such as the FIFA football games.

But are these games true sports? Many criticise the inclusion of eSports in this category due to the difference in mediums, and the lack of physical exertion. However, aside from physical activity, there is little question that eSports encompass many similar traits to traditional sports; including shrewd tactics, finely-tuned motor skills, strategic thinking and goal-setting for success.

And while eSports in their most basic form have existed since the 1970s, it is only in recent years that interest in competitive gaming has grown and attitudes towards it have begun to swing.

In a 2016 survey, Superdata reported that over 213.8M people watched competitive gaming in 2016, and global revenue for the worldwide eSports market has grown 19% year-on-year to $892.8 million.

The top professional gamers have celebrity status – particularly in games such as Dota 2, which boasts tournaments with multimillion dollar prize pools, and StarCraft, which has a massive following in South Korea.

Teams are run as businesses – much like modern-day soccer clubs – and the top-earning individuals (almost all under the age of 30) can become millionaires over the course of one tournament.

At the end of February 2017, the top-earning player was 28-year-old Dota 2 player Saahil “Universe” Arora, whose tournament winnings amounted to roughly R35 million.

eSports have risen so much that there are even dedicated channels (online and now on TV) to gaming events across the globe – including locally on DSTV.

South Africa has a proudly burgeoning local eSports scene, and if you’re in checking out some local competitive gaming, you’ll be able to catch some of our local pros this weekend! EGE 2017 is happening at CTICC from 28 to 30 July 2017!

A number of major tournaments and gaming activities are planned over the course of the weekend. Check it out here.

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