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Sports Opinion: How eSports & Twitch are changing the way we view the sports world forever

Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Alex Metzger

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Almost everyone has tossed a football, slung a baseball, or grabbed up a stick and made fun of curling. Some of us have played competitive sports. Many of us have also wrapped our hands around a controller or mouse & keyboard and played some video games with our buddies. Why can’t those two things come together? Well for those who don’t know, it already has.

Welcome to eSports, the multi-billion dollar franchise that’s taking spectator sports to a whole new level. If you’re having any doubts, this year’s combined number of viewers for the NBA Finals and Super Bowl was roughly 141.3 million people through all television and streaming networks (30 for the NBA and 111.3 for the Super Bowl). How about the League of Legends World Championship Finals, a fairly average event for a popular eSport? 60 million. As Chris Morris of Fortune Magazine stated earlier this year “Players on the New England Patriots took home $107,000 each for winning Super Bowl LI. That’s chump change to the eSports world. Competitors in the International Dota 2 Championships next month will be battling for a prize pool that currently stands at more than $20.8 million.”

To start, you need to understand a couple of facts. First of all, you can view any eSports match in the world through Youtube, Crunchyroll, Mixer, or the king of all streaming services: Twitch. Twitch is a subsidiary of Amazon, and while that may play into some of its success, the ability to watch and broadcast any game being played with a press of a button has made eSports the most accessible type sporting event in the entire world. Sure, many of us have played sports in at some point in our lives, but we haven’t competed at the same level that professional athletes do. Similarly, many of us play video games, but we don’t play at the same level that eSports athletes do. This is where Twitch comes into play. Twitch allows everybody and anybody to stream themselves playing games live for others to watch. There’s a certain relatability on twitch that has garnered it into the success story it is today. And it’s more than that. You all remember about two weeks ago when Mark Zuckerberg was on Capitol Hill talking about Facebook. The Washington Post was streaming it live on Twitch.

Another reason behind the success of eSports is its players. When we think of an “athlete” we imagine a tall and buff man or woman, striding across a field for a Gillette commercial with impeccable hair and a beautiful smile that cured Bob Costas eye infection, not the gangly string beans sitting in front computers yelling in what almost seems to be another language entirely.

Some names you may have heard are “Ninja,” “Flow3r” or “Shroud.” These streams give the viewer insight into the streamer as a person and provides a live camera for all to see instead of a filtered reality such as Youtube. Twitch gives the eSports viewer a much more personalized connection to the match and teams you can root for with much more stake and enjoyment than your Nationals, Redskins, or possibly even the United States curling teams. Well, maybe not that far but my point is clear. There’s a certain level of relatability and accessibility that eSports bring to the table, which is unmatched by any other parts of the sporting world. We entering an entertainment era that is more inclusive and caters to a 21st century lifestyle. Curling fans beware.

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Sports Opinion: How eSports & Twitch are changing the way we view the sports world forever