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Electronic sports – or eSports – refers to a niche of competitive gaming that is gaining popularity around the world.

There are approximately 300 million eSports fans in 152 countries (so “niche” may not be the right word!) that watch games online through streaming platforms like Twitch.tv. People can also watch eSports tournaments live with thousands of other fans. Last years’ League of Legends season finale sold out the Staples Center in LA in less than an hour.

So what games are played?

Right now, the most popular eSports titles are DOTA 2, League of Legends, Starcraft II, and Hearthstone. Games like Call of Duty are also popular, but since first person shooters are a little harder to watch, surprisingly they aren’t as popular as eSports titles.

People make money doing this!?

Yea…take that Mom! Professional eSports players can make up to six figures a year. In fact, this year’s DOTA 2 final prize pool was well over $10 million, making it the largest prize of any sport in history.

Anyway, let’s take a look at what all this eSports shenanigans actually looks like.

Below is what a major live tournament look like. Keep in mind, there are also million of viewers watching online. If you are interested in checking out an eSports event locally, Red Bull Battle Grounds will be in DC this September at the Lincoln Theatre.

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I guess you could say it’s kinda like the Gathering of the Juggalos, for nerdsballers — but with no meth and more math.

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Good god. Fewer people watched Home Alone 4.

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While the “sports” nomenclature has been up for debate (by people who go outside more than me)  the games do require an enormous amount of physical talent and mental capacity.

There are a few metrics that players are compared by, one of them is their Actions Per Minute (APM) which measures how many mouse clicks and keyboard actions a player makes. Brands like Red Bull have even invested in the training of eSports players at dedicated facilities focused on improving performance.

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Just for reference, a professional Starcraft player might have an average APM of 300. Me on the other hand, usually has an average APM of about 50 because my fingers are slow sausage-like appendages.

Much like traditional sports, eSports has a lot of the familiar features you might associate with other games.

There are casters and commentators.

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Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Teams sometimes have cheesy group photos with one person looking of into the distance (at victory no doubt!)

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Players wear jackets with corporate sponsorships plastered all over them.

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And of course, there are screaming fans.

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So, now you know little about eSports.

Finally, you have something to talk to your 14 year old cousin about at Thanksgiving.

If you are thinking about going to Red Bull Battle Grounds in DC this September, check our last year’s tournament in NYC in the video below.

GL;HF

Feature image courtesy of Red Bull, crowd image courtesy of eSports

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