eSports: The Next Generation of Athletes

Mohammed Emran /
ESports The Next Generation of Athletes

What makes an athlete? Is it physical prowess, or brute strength? Is it the strategy of teamwork or the brilliance of solo sport? Is it still a sport if you ride a horse, a bike, a boat or a car?

What about using a computer?

Electronic sports, or esports, started out small but rapidly built up in popularity alongside the games that inspired them. Just as there are single martial artists, doubles tennis teams, and multiplayer football or baseball teams, esports appear in a variety of games and formats. Some of them, like Hearthstone, are games more comparable to chess because they are dependent on mental skills. Action-oriented games, such as League of Legends, Apex, or Overwatch, take a little more energy and alertness. As a result, esports have become taken as seriously as the competitive games most of us recognize.

What Are eSports?

Esports are action games, many of which are played in teams of 2 or more. There are myriad different types, but all require as much of the same dedication and athleticism as any other sport if one intends to play at more than a casual level. They are also games that require players to compete against one another – which players call PvP – or some sort of timer. They are generally defined as competitive multiplayer online games that can be spectated and are played professionally. Just as a group of friends might get together and have a pickup basketball game with another group in the park, many people play these games casually as well, but the top players can earn scholarships and sponsorships from online tournaments and sponsored events.

Some types of esports are:

  • Competitive player versus player: MMOs, which are massive multiplayer online games, are often a combination of role-playing and dueling mechanics. World of Warcraft is arguably the most famous and features Arenas, which are between teams of 2 vs. 2 or 3 vs. 3. They, and many other MMOs, also have larger-scale battlegrounds where teams ranging from 5-40 players work together to beat the other team.
  • Competitive first-person shooters: games like Overwatch, Apex Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and Call of Duty pit teams against one another as though they are actually viewing events from the eyes of their character. First-person shooters are some of the most action-packed esports there are, especially since some consoles sell accessories for them that simulate the real thing, causing you to have to shoot for yourself.
  • Competitive player versus environment: often called PvE, this refers to competitions that require in-game objectives to be finished within ever-decreasing time limits. Most of these objectives are dungeons of some sort, usually the highest level dungeons with the most powerful monsters. Many of them are in a race to finish the dungeon the fastest. A popular semi-professional form of this is called “server first,” which is being the very first group to finish the dungeon at all. Many games publicize server firsts on their websites, podcasts, and vlogs.
  • Competitive strategy games: we may not think of a card game as a sport, but Hearthstone and Starcraft 2 are the primary examples of strategy games with a spectator base, and other PvP strategy games have online broadcasts and competitions as well. These are games that seem like poker, chess, or Risk, but are played online.
  • Solo games: many streamers and YouTubers play solo games, which means they’re not limited to online. Some may be multiplayer but they can also be played alone. More than one pro gamer has made their living or even their fortune by competing against others, and some game developers even sponsor these events themselves. Games in this category can range from Guitar Hero or Rocksmith to Dead Souls or Assassin’s Creed. One could compare competitions and sponsorships of this type to solo sports such as bodybuilding or golf. Cabinet game tournaments from 1980s arcade games like Street Fighter are a precursor to esports of this type.
  • Multiplayer Online Battle Arena: commonly known as MOBAs, these are some of the most popular esports games. League of Legends and its predecessor Defense of the Ancients are the best-known MOBAs, with League even getting coverage on ESPN, solidifying the category as an acknowledged sport. Further cementing League’s status is its sponsorship and scholarship potential, as it is so recognized as a sport that gaming and hardware companies and colleges have offered kids professional careers on League teams. One of the most popular League teams is SKT, which is sponsored by BMW after a long agreement with Korea’s SK Telecom.
  • Sports: Yes, there are even esports about sports, although they sometimes have fantasy twists. Rocket League is a console game that is based on soccer, but played with digital vehicles that sometimes get weapons or bombs. They play in a dome that has gravity-defying qualities, and have a very healthy esports league. Gran Turismo, a car racing game, has gotten its best players hired as professional drivers as a result of their esports wins.
  • Battle Royale: Some popular examples of battle royale games include Fortnite and Player Unknown Battleground (or PUBg). In these games, there are no teams. Each player is on their own and must survive against other players. Joining alliances, parties, and clans (or guilds, or other organized in-game groups) is purely up to players, but otherwise, they’re on their own.

Are eSports Athletic?

Esports are considered athletics by a lot of unlikely sources, such as colleges and broadcasters. Sports magazines, especially online, are as likely to report on them as on more traditional sports. 

With their continuous action, esports requires many of the same physical attributes relied on by other athletes. Despite being computer games, they require hand-eye coordination, physical and mental endurance, and awareness of one’s entire field’s surroundings. They also require a great deal of dexterity, the ability to move flexibly, quickly, and efficiently. Good reflexes are a must. 

Even when they’re sitting in a chair, a lot of esports gamers are getting workouts comparable to athletes, and professional gamers practice for hours a day, training as seriously as the most seasoned bodybuilder or gymnast. Auto racing is considered a sport for many of the same reasons, and the concentration required for martial arts or billiards is comparable to that required for esports.

How Do I Join Esports?

For most esports, all you have to do is download the game and play. Every so often, there are game updates, which add new content or patches to the game. Reading about the different game options is a good idea if you want to take your gaming to the next level, but casual players can usually enjoy games for free or a small subscription fee.  

Professional Potential

Players who are good at esports, whether solo or team, can earn money or finance their education through these games. Cities around North America and the world have organized professional esports leagues, such as Overwatch League and several regional League of Legends Leagues. Miami is one of the cities that has its own League of Legends team, which competes with the teams of other cities around the country. This has become so prevalent that stadiums to show these sports are being built by cities in conjunction with games companies and esports organizations to give spectators a place to see their esports heroes live. The most well-known one is in Arlington, Texas, but they are being built all over to accommodate the demand spectators have for the games.

Streamers are also benefiting from esports, even when they’re not pros or on a team. Just as aficionados of traditional sports can become commentators who call the action, esports competitions have announcers and analysts on various streams. Lucky streamers with a lot of talent might even find themselves calling the official action, such as the Hearthstone Regional Championships or the League of Legends World Championship. Others can find themselves at esports events getting to try out the newest updates and tell the world about them. Solo players who’ve gotten skilled at music games, for example, sometimes find themselves performing beside their favorite bands, leading to possibilities outside of the game.

Amateur esports players aren’t left out of the earning potential. Pros and amateurs both, as well as commentators and solo players, can earn sponsorships from a huge variety of companies. Video games take a lot of components to play, and every hardware company in the world wants you to use their processor, their graphics card, their mouse, their headset, even apps. Developers of new esports games want their games played. As a result, money isn’t the only way to earn from esports. Getting to test or own cutting-edge software is common, and specialized accessories for many games are sent out to well-known players and commentators to get some free publicity.

College Esports

Esports has become so popular and accepted that colleges are now assembling esports teams in various games. Several major colleges offer scholarships for esports and participate in varsity esports tournaments with prizes ranging from tuition money to cash to gear. These are not small specialty colleges, either: state colleges in Georgia, California, Utah, South Carolina, and Kentucky all have varsity programs. They emphasize teamwork, problem-solving, and the role of technology and games in today’s world as part of a broader experience beyond fun and competition.

If playing esports professionally were so easy, everyone would do it. No one should go in with the expectation that they can get paid to play, earn a scholarship, or find sponsors. However, esports is considered sports for a reason: they offer many of the same benefits as traditional sports, even when played casually. 

Fast Games Require Fast Internet

Most eSport games are free, and only require fast, reliable Internet for players to join in. Finding the best Internet in your area isn’t a game, but it is just as simple. With just your zip code, our comparison site can tell you who provides service in your area and what their plans cost. Whether you’re a competitive World of Warcraft raider, a sponsored Hearthstone player, on your school’s Rocket League team, or simply a casual League of Legends player, you want to play your best, and that means having the best Internet service you can get!