Over 10,000 people sold out the KeyArena in Seattle, Washington on July 21, 2014, while more than 20 million people tuned in online, to watch The International 4, a “DOTA 2” international tournament.
The winners of TI4 were given a $5 million cash prize which, at the time, was a Guinness World Record for the greatest prize money in a video game team-based competition. Electronic gaming, also known as e-sports, is often played competitively by professionals.
The popularity of e-sports has vastly increased in recent years. The anticipation prior to TI4 led to increased coverage for competitive gaming on the national stage, as it was broadcasted live by ESPN.
“CSUF eSports” club president Jeremy Wan created the club in response to the rise of competitive video gaming.
“I started this club because I would always see people around campus play games that were meant to be competitive,” Wan, a business major, said. “I established a club on campus that has a focus to foster gamers on a wide scale.”
Wan, along with a group of other supporters, started the CSUF eSports club this semester. The club’s main goal is to bring people who play an assortment of video games together to compete at a collegiate level with other schools. However, the club also gives people a place to enjoy their competitive games with others who have the same interests.
“The overall goal of the eSports club is to unite all gamers of CSUF and let everyone know that CSUF has a gaming community,” said Ken Cheong, operations director for CSUF eSports. “Uniting all gamers gives a sense of community versus the individual feel of gaming.”
The club is currently playing “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft” in two separate leagues, the Collegiate Star League Tournament and the TeSPA Tournament, which offers $12,000 in scholarships per player on the team.
The rise of professional gaming has led to a controversial debate on whether e-sports can be classified as a true sport or not. Many people, including ESPN president John Skipper, believe that e-sports should not be considered a sport.
“It’s not a sport — it’s a competition,” Skipper said of Amazon’s acquisition of popular video game streaming site Twitch during a September conference in New York. “Chess is a competition. Checkers is a competition. Mostly I’m interested in doing real sports.”
Wan, Cheong and CSUF eSports vice president Susie Law believe that eSports should be considered on the same level as other competitive sports.
“There are many elements of traditional sports in this area. Teamwork, skill, practice and analysis goes into every match for the prep for each game,” Law said. “Those looking to stay on the top in the e-sports scene must not only be in great physical condition, but they also must log in many hours of physical and mental practice.”
Competitive e-sports are already on the same level as other competitive sports, Cheong said.
“Sure, we don’t physically play a sport, but the players ourselves still go under the same adrenaline when we play,” Cheong said.
E-sports are quickly becoming major spectator attractions, growing in size each year. Finding something to love in e-sports might be difficult for those who don’t have an affinity for gaming, but those in CSUF eSports share the passion and drive that has been propelling the phenomenon in recent times.
“In the past, there have been players from CSUF that have played in major tournaments, but weren’t representing CSUF,” Cheong said. “With a club and community, it provides a solid group that gives these unrepresented people a purpose for collegiate gaming.”