Filed Under:

E-Sports Reach Pro-Athletic Status, Fandom — And Money

Play associated audio

Online competitive gaming is increasingly mirroring the world of professional sports. E-sports are attracting hard-working teams that compete for millions of dollars in prize money.

Generally, gamers wage battles with one another using rapid clicks of a computer mouse. "A lot of it comes down to reflexes, but a lot of [it] is strategy," says David Gorman, a sportscaster for the popular e-sport, Dota 2. "It's very much like chess, except it's in real time. Almost like speed chess."

Despite this seemingly sedentary pastime, Gorman tells NPR's Jacki Lyden, these players are like professional athletes, practicing hours each day with specialized training staff. Even the U.S. immigration service agrees: E-sports players receive the same visas given to visiting baseball and soccer stars.

In the latest sign that the value of gamers is rising, e-sports team members are now being traded to other teams, notes Gorman, who founded the Lost Angeles-based Beyond The Summit, which broadcasts e-sports coverage. Last week, one Chinese player was traded for $85,000.

Dota 2, where teams of five players face off, is particularly popular in China. One of the country's richest men purchased an entire team for $6 million in 2011.

There's big money from the fan base, too. Professional teams are packing large venues, and selling out tickets, Gorman says. The events he commentates, which are carried online and sponsored by advertising revenue, attract up to a million viewers.

"It's really a very global phenomenon," Gorman says. "The audience will come to the venue, but there's people — millions of people — watching from around the world.

League of Legends is even more popular than Dota 2. Last October, the world championship broke all records with 8.5 million viewers live-streaming. That final game, which was broadcast on a big screen above the heads of the players onstage, was played before of a sold-out crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

"It's really not just people playing in their basements," Gorman says. "I don't know if that ever was the case, but it's certainly not how the top teams are organized now."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

The Role Of Music In Presidential Campaigns

Presidential candidates today frequently use popular pieces of music as campaign "theme songs"...often without approval from the musicians themselves. But using music on the campaign trail is not a modern phenomenon: it goes back to our earliest presidential elections. In the 1800s songs were used out of necessity: to reach potential voters who could not read. We investigate the history, evolution, and modern-day role of music in political campaigns.

NPR

From Dock To Dish: A New Model Connects Chefs To Local Fishermen

Prominent chefs are signing up for restaurant-supported fisheries: They commit to buying fresh-caught seafood, whatever the species, from local small fishermen. A pilot program launched in California.

WAMU 88.5

The Role Of Music In Presidential Campaigns

Presidential candidates today frequently use popular pieces of music as campaign "theme songs"...often without approval from the musicians themselves. But using music on the campaign trail is not a modern phenomenon: it goes back to our earliest presidential elections. In the 1800s songs were used out of necessity: to reach potential voters who could not read. We investigate the history, evolution, and modern-day role of music in political campaigns.

NPR

Yahoo CEO To Take Limited Leave After Giving Birth To Twins

NPR's Rachel Martin talks with Slate DoubleX Gabfest's Hanna Rosin about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision to take just two weeks worth of parental leave after having twins in December.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.