Oct 25 2013 - 6:14 pm

Are eSports a sport? HBO weighs in

Competitive gaming, or eSports, already boasts millions of fans across the world
Tim Sampson
Dot Esports

Competitive gaming, or eSports, already boasts millions of fans across the world. It's a multi-million dollar industry. So why is mainstream media so slow to catch on?

A recent episode of HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel featured a 14-minute segment devoted to the recent League of Legends World Championship and competitive gaming in general.

The segment is at times patronizing to its subjects. It perpetuates stereotype of gamers as nerds (the segment itself is called "Revenge of the Nerds") even as it attempts to dispel . But reporter Soledad O'Brien, interviewing some of LoL's top competitors and organizers, makes a solid case for why competitive video gaming should be considered a sport on par with baseball or football. (A copy of the video was briefly uploaded to YouTube before the company removed it.)

“Statistically the fastest growing sport in America is, of all things, video gaming," notes Gumbel at the start of the video. "And if you’re among the many who don’t consider it a sport at all, millions of rabid fans would beg to differ.”

As O'Brien points out, League of Legends has turned into a significant spectacle. Riot Games, which produces LoL, reportedly grosses $200 million annually. It's estimated that more people take part in video gaming than baseball (little league through the MLB). LoL broadcasts on the web regularly draw four times the number of viewers as the average NHL game. And the championship itself sold out L.A.'s Staple Center in under an hour.

Yet there is still resistance to label gaming a sport. The natural instinct is to dismiss it. Where's the physical effort, the muscle, the seemingly superhuman dexterity that you see in athletes in other top sports? Well, as O'Brien points out, top gamers in the world can make up to six mouse strokes a second. That requires a pretty special type of mental and physical agility.

The gamers themselves don't suffer from the fact that mainstream media ignores them. Many of the top competitors earn six-figure salaries. And the companies behind the sport certainly don't have any trouble balancing the books. As Dustin Beck of Riot Games points out, coverage by mainstream sports outlets, along with the recent U.S. government decision to issue athletic visas to foreign gamers, give esports a legitimacy that is craved by its competitors and fans.

"These (players) have taken journeys in their life to become pro athletes for something that's not really a traditionally accepted career path," Beck said in the video.

"Yet these guys are doing it and they're living it. And so to get that kind of validation, confirmation that this is the real deal has been exciting for our fans."

Photo by GaMeReVX/Flickr

Jan 21 2017 - 10:55 pm

Contractz shines as Cloud9 topples TSM

Cloud9’s rookie jungler made a big splash in his LCS debut
Xing Li
Dot Esports
Photo via Riot Games

Cloud9’s Juan "Contractz" Arturo Garcia didn't just make an impression in his LCS debut. He blew away all expectations, and showed himself to be a force to be reckoned with.

Contractz was the last cut from the Players to Watch list we wrote before the League Championship season. We weren’t sure how much priority Cloud9 would give him, especially with so much talent elsewhere on the roster. Still, we felt uneasy--someone not on the list was almost guaranteed to break out.

We just didn’t know that it would happen in the very first series.

In a rematch of last summer’s LCS Finals, Cloud9 and TSM clashed on the rift. And despite the star power that this matchup brings, much of the focus was on Contractz. He was a major focus for C9, almost a win condition in themselves.

Let’s see how he did it.

Jungle Priority

Due to the changes Riot made to the jungle in the offseason, priority has risen for junglers. More experience and more ganks means a good jungler can more easily carry a game. Cloud9’s coach, Bok “Reapred” Han-gyu talks about priority all the time.

Priority is a League term that indicates which lane has a strong matchups and should be a focus for jungle ganks. The player or lane with priority gets earlier picks and more attention from the rest of the team.

In a bit of a role reversal, C9 picked jungle to have priority in game one. That meant C9 players actively played around Contractz’ Kha’zix and made plays to get him ahead. In one telling instance, AD carry Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi burned his Ashe ult so that Contractz could invade and secure red buff.

Contractz rewarded that allocation by killing TSM ADC Jason “WildTurtle” Tran for First Blood. Cloud9 picked a risky comp that required Contractz and mid laner Nicolaj Jensen (playing Fizz) to snowball. Aided by some questionable team play from TSM and baffling itemization from WildTurtle, they accomplished that.

How would TSM react in game two?

A Lee Sin God

Cloud9 continued to give Contractz priority by first-picking Lee Sin for him (only one jungler, Rengar, was banned). This time, he lived in TSM’s red side jungle, playing around pressure from Jensen and top laner Jung “Impact” Eon-yeong.

A well-executed gank gave C9 First Blood again, this time on Soren “Bjergsen” Bjerg. C9’s duo lane kept their own red-side safe, allowing Contractz to clear and run to the top lane to kill Kevin “Hauntzer” Yarnell.

For much of the series, Cloud9 exhibited superior team play and coordination, and Contractz was at the center of big plays. He is an aggressive, carry-oriented player and C9 enabled that aggression extremely well. Even when TSM jungler Dennis “Svenskeren” Johnsen and the rest of the team was there, it was often C9 making the right moves, faster. Following a decent TSM dive in the bot lane, Contractz responded with kill after kill.

It’s still very early in the season, but this team has come together very fast. Their communication was superb as was the shot calling. TSM had poor performances from Turtle and Svenskeren, but this victory was still more about C9's macro-oriented team play, rather than individual performances. They will have chances to come back, just like C9 will have to keep their play high by continuing to aid their jungler.

Contractz just dominated what was the best team in NA. Keep this performance up, and he’ll find himself on another one of our lists: the end of split awards.

Jan 21 2017 - 10:20 pm

G2 Esports and H2k-Gaming on top after EU LCS opening weekend

Last year's top teams haven't missed a beat.
Callum Leslie
Weekend Editor, Dot Esports.
Photo via Riot Games

G2 Esports and H2k-Gaming picked up exactly where they left off as the 2017 European LCS season got underway.

Both G2 and H2k, who had the most championship points in Europe in 2016, won both of their first two matches of the 2017 Spring Split as they look to win out in their respective groups.

In the biggest match of the weekend on paper, G2 beat Fnatic 2-1 in a thrilling series to the delight of the crowd in the LCS studio. The first game was a cagey affair, with G2 securing all of the objectives and getting a relatively comfortable win, but the second game was far closer.

The game was level for most of the first thirty minutes, until Fnatic managed to take Baron. From there the team's advantage slowly developed despite G2's best efforts. Fnatic broke down G2's defences and left the Nexus exposed, before this daring flash play let Fnatic in the backdoor to win the game.

Fired up by the audacious play, G2 Esports fired back in game three. Though Fnatic were able to secure more kills than G2, 20-14, G2 once again took almost all of the objectives. They wore down Fnatic with repeated attacks on the Nexus until Fnatic could no longer withstand the pressure.

G2 also defeated Roccat 2-0, finishing the week top of Group A.

H2k-Gaming went just one better than G2 in Group B—not only did they win both of their initial matches, they also did without dropping a game. The 2016 World Championship semifinalists defeated Origen in the first game of the season, before knocking off fellow World Championship competitors Splyce.

Misfits and Unicorns of Love were the only other victorious sides on the opening weekend, over Giants Gaming and Vitality respectively.