Portland Public Schools is making an esports league. This is huge to the esports community because they would have the opportunity to compete against other teams. Image by Michael Noinola.

Throughout their history, sports have typically been perceived as requiring athleticism and physical skill, as well as strategy.  However, the growth of esports over recent years has led many to redefine their perception of sports. Esports are video games played competitively at a professional level. Unlike more traditional athletics, esports are not physical, but they use your mind, just like poker and chess.

In classic sports, athletes have to practice. Esports are the same; gamers practice daily in order to improve. Also, like most athletics, esports take more than developing skill. An article by Fact/Myth talks about training for esports, explaining how competitive gamers have to eat healthier and have good sleeping habits. Nutrition is a big part in a gamer’s life. Low sugar levels can present a challenge for endurance. When sugar levels are balanced, gamers have better focus and concentration. Gamers also have to prepare themselves mentally in order to be focused during situations with a lot of pressure. They hone skills such as focus, reaction time, and strategic thinking.

Similar to traditional athletes, esports gamers have a tough lifestyle. They do 12-14 hours a day of gaming, which gives them enough time to eat and sleep. Playing this much can be both physically and mentally detrimental, as is sometimes the case in classic sports. Michael Noinola (12), the founder of League Club, said, “Esports players deal with personal mental strain and harsh criticism based on their performance.”

Like most sports, esports requires need teamwork to win games. In games everyone plays a specific role. For example, in League of Legends, there are five roles: jungler, mid, top, attack damage carry, and support. There are 3 lanes: top, middle, and bottom. The goal of the game is too work together and defeat the enemy team. There are players in the role of the support, kind of like the playmakers. The attack damage carrier does the damage for the team. The mid laner is the all-around player who does everything the team needs, such as supporting, damage, or even being the tank. The top laner is usually the tank. The tank is the person who takes the most damage and tries to keep the backline alive so they can deal the damage. By working together, gamers are able to win games, just like they would in regular sports.

People can earn scholarships through esports. In an interview with Forbes, Michael Brooks, the Executive Director of National Association of Collegiate Esports explained how students can earn scholarships by academic, merit-based or athletic achievements. For esports, traits like skill and communication can earn scholarships. A lot of colleges offer scholarships for students who excel in sports like basketball or football. Schools that offer esports scholarships include Robert Morris University, University of California-Irvine, and Maryville University. Although there are more scholarships for sports than esports, opportunities for gamers continue to grow, with an increase in colleges offering full rides.

The growth of esports can be seen both through the increasing availability of scholarships and through a surge in viewership. Noinola said that “The eLeagues are able to obtain high amounts of revenue, from fans buying merch and venue tickets, and online viewership on a consistent basis.”  In 2016, a League of Legends World Championship Final reached a total of 43 million concurrent viewers. Esports fans spent 17.9 million hours watching their gaming heroes in the first quarter of 2018. It is projected that in 2018, esports will make $905 million in revenue, and could reach over $1 billion over the next two years.

Similar to traditional athletics, people can make money through playing esports. Every tournament has a prize pool. The highest prize pool was in 2018 at a Dota 2 tournament. This is the second highest prize pool in sports, larger than the FIFA Confederations Cup and NBA. Organizations like Team SoloMid, Cloud 9, and Counter Logic Gaming create teams that work together to win tournaments and get the prize pool. The athlete that has earned the most money from esports is Kuro Takhasomi,who has earned a total of $4.1 million dollars through winning Dota 2 tournaments with his team, Team Liquid. They’re the most successful team, earning $23 million.

The widespread interest in esports can be seen more locally. Franklin had its own esports club for League of Legends, the biggest in Portland Public Schools. The club was ran by teachers David Stroup and Joseph Rowe. There is the Metro Esports League to help build a community for gamers in PPS. Playing video games creates a great environment between the students and staff that are involved. “When I watch these esports, I see my students having a great time working together to build skill,” says Rowe.

Although esports do not fall into the traditional definition of physical sports, they do require mental skills. They demand clever strategies to beat the competition. Sports involve teamwork, and esports you need teamwork as well to work together and complete an objective. The growth of esports has led many to redefine their idea of sports, creating an increase in opportunities for gamers and setting foundations for the future.


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