For a company whose president says esports isnt a sport, sports media giant ESPN sure is treating it like one. Today marks another new esports venture for the sports network with the announcement of ESPN The Magazine‘s first ever issue all about esports.
The issue will hit newsstands Friday and will feature both professional sporting stars like Marshawn Lynch and Kevin Durant talking about their video gaming habits as well as more esports-centric coverage, like an in-depth profile on League of Legends superstar Lee ” Faker” Sang-hyeok.
It also include articles about Gamergate and its influence on gaming and a “Data Dive” done by FiveThirtyEight, ESPN’s data-driven content site led by Nate Silver, looking at just how big esports has really become.
ESPN’s history with esports makes them appear a house divided, if one quickly warming up to the growing esports scene. Despite claims from the corporations’ president John Skipper that esports is “not a sport” and rants from shock jock Colin Cowherd that he’d rather commit suicide than watch esports, ESPN has become involved in a growing list of esports endeavors recently, including Dota 2‘s The International and Heroes of the Storm‘s Heroes of the Dorm, which brought esports to an officially televised ESPN broadcast for the first time.
ESPN also has a partnership with US-based esports organizer Major League Gaming (MLG) to include esports in the X Games. Earlier this week, MLG president Mike Sepso dished with us about working with ESPN.
“It’s been great. After X Games last year, we formed a long-term partnership with ESPN for the X Games events. They’re pretty happy with it… We’re getting more expansive coverage out of ESPN going forward.”
Providing their own esports coverage seems a logical next step, and their magazine is a way to test the waters.
So far, the only criticism of ESPN The Magazine‘s coverage of esports is how sports-centric it still is. Only one esports professional, Faker, is actually named, and the teaser doesn’t really go into details which games will be covered, despite the many currently in the fold.
Fans will have to wait until the issue hits newsstands Friday to judge whether or not ESPN The Magazine‘s esports issue hits it out of the park—or, maybe I should say, destroys the Nexus.
Photo via Riot Games/Flickr