Could eSports actually be considered regular Sports?

Can it truly be a spectator sport? It already! 71 million watched it last year, they reckon it’s going to… By 2017 it will be 145 million people watching it, I have this argument all the time. People are like: “Oh no one wants to watch anyone play video games, that’s so boring!” League of Legends I think it was about 18,000 people in the stadium live and then 32 million watched the final. This is what kids are doing, this is what people want to see!

A P1A Visa is a visa that’s given for athletes, which means that you are an exceptional athlete from another country coming into the US and you have to prove that, your athletic capabilities are good enough to guarantee you living inside the US. The government has acknowledged professional video gamers as athletes… In 2015 the global eSports audience is believed to have been around 226 million people. It generated 325 million dollars and almost 500 million in 2016. This newly arrived market is expected to grow to 1.9 billion dollars by 2018 and investors know this so don’t be surprised when you see one or more basketball players backing up another one of those teams of which you’ve never even heard of.

They’re just doing the smart move and betting on the future. A future that is already quite close to our doorstep, in fact. There’s two things I know about in this world. That’s volleyball and League of Legends, and it’s actually funny how similar those two are, but I can’t seem to get it through to my teammates’ heads.

The volleyball people don’t believe me when I tell them that league should be more acknowledged when compared to regular sports and will grow to dominate over them in the next 10 years. The league guys refuse to believe that volleyball is as complex as league and that you need just as much reaction time and different skills to succeed. You, the person watching this video right now, I bet you’ve heard of this strange thing called volleyball, but just in case you don’t know what it’s all about, it’s played on an 18 x 9 meter court with a net in the middle that divides this court into two equal squares.

There’s six players on each team playing at all times, with an additional player that rotates with others on the court. No, this is not a sub, there’s five of those on each team. I’m not going to go into much detail about the rules, as I’m sure you’ve either seen or at least heard of it and recognize it as a sport very easily, after all there’s people moving around, they’re sweating and getting tired and there’s also a ball involved. So volleyball = sports no doubt about it, but what about League of Legends? Could it also one day be considered a sport? “What a nerd!

Of course not, it’s just a game, that’s all it is! A video game! Well, do you know how to play it? This is Summoner’s Rift, the court of League of Legends and in this court 10 players battle against each other to move further into the enemy territory and destroy the enemy Nexus, thereby claiming Victory! Sounds simple? Maybe, but in fact, the amount of different skills you need to have to win even a mere 50% of your games is unimaginable.

Let’s take a look at the five players on a league of legends team. There’s five roles, just like in volleyball. You have the mid laner who’s mainly responsible for offensive purposes, but he also needs to have a big presence in all stages and instances of the game. I associate this role with that of the outside hitter in volleyball the player that needs to not only be able to hit but also pass, therefore setting up kills for the rest of the team.

Just like the mid laner when he decides to roam the map. Then you have the jungler, the hidden threat that lurks around invisible to the opposing team only occasionally entering direct combat with the enemy. His goal is to set up kills for his laners, so that they can push their lanes and snowball the game. To me, the jungler is the setter in volleyball, responsible for, as the name suggests, setting up kills for his teammates. A jungler that takes kills when he ganks is like a setter that does too many second touches. Sure, you got the point, and in certain occasions, it could be very important, but most of the time, if you can get your teammates to score, it’ll boost their confidence, thus allowing them to snowball…

I mean, keep hitting and scoring over and over again. Next we have the top laner, usually the big guy in the team, a bruiser, a tank, generally someone that can take a beating and give one if need be. This would be the middle player in volleyball, responsible for those hard kills and also blocking or tanking.

The top lane is also widely compared with a lonely island in League, so for half the game, you might not even see your top laner in action, and that’s exactly how it works for the middle players in volleyball as well, except in this case, they actually step out of the game for half of it. Finally, in the bottom lane of Summoner’s Rift, you have the AD Carry and the Support. The AD Carry is the player who’s responsible for one thing and one thing only: Kills, kills, kills. Just like the opposite in volleyball.

He doesn’t pass, he doesn’t set, he gets set the ball wherever he is, and his job is to kill it. The support is the absolute contrary. If the support doesn’t get a single kill in a game of League of Legends that’s normal. The support is there to ensure that your teammates aren’t killed, much like the libero in volleyball.

He doesn’t get to hit or serve, not a single offensive action in his kit, he’s only responsible for passing and defending. So now you have a very basic understanding of the five roles in both League of Legends and volleyball. But let’s switch it up completely, shall we? Imagine you are now playing Fifa, just that it will be a little bit different. Imagine that every time you wanted to play a match in Fifa, you could only control one of the players in the team, and before the game places you as one of those players, you get the chance to choose a position to play as. You select left wing, and the game then allows you to pick a player for that position.

The thing is, you are not restricted to picking a left-wing specifically. You can virtually pick any player in the world. Messi, Ronaldo, Neuer, Sergio Ramos… you name it!

Who would you pick? Would you pick a goalkeeper like Navas to play left wing? Well, if you’re smart and want to win, then you’ll pick a player with the right characteristics for playing left wing. That can be speed, stamina, crossing, etc. Someone like Ribery, Ronaldo, Neymar or Hazard. That’s exactly how a game of League of Legends starts.

You apply for the role you want to play in, and then you choose from over 100 different champions, each having its own set of tools to help you perform in that role and within your team. Then, much like if you picked Bale or Griezmann, you’ll have to play according to your champions toolset. Does it easily set up kills for your teammates?

Or does it work better when left on its own? The amount of champions every 10 players on the rift can pick and the different ways that they’re played, provide for a different game every single time. I’ve heard peoplewho don’t play, complain about the fact that it must get repetitive playing always in the same map.

Does football get repetitive? Does chess get repetitive? But then again this, this is just a game.

Sure you have your team play and you do need skill to play the game and win, but how could it ever be compared to a regular sport? There’s actually a lot of online games: roulette, poker, casino slots, blackjack. The similarities between competitive video games and competitive sports. Basketball and League of Legends in particular, you know, obviously there’s the 5 on 5 aspect. But everyone kind of has a role. When you watch the LCS games, the teams that are the best at communication usually, you know, do the best and that’s exactly how it is in Basketball. I actually had to look this up, because no one seemed to be able to pinpoint what actually makes a sport a sport!

And I came to the conclusion that there’s three impositions on what a sport must have in order to be considered one in the first place. Number 1 is a set of rules or customs. Number 2 is the ability to be undertaken competitively and capability of a result being achieved. Number 3 is that it needs to be a human activity that involves physical skill and exertion. Aha!

Gotcha there! eSports don’t abide by imposition number 3, so it can never be considered or even compared to a regular sport. Well, as someone who plays both volleyball at a professional level and League for countless hours, I can tell you that I get pretty much exhausted and sweaty from playing both.

Truth be told, my muscles don’t feel sore the day after I grind League of Legends, as opposed to volleyball, but the human activity part is still there. My heart beats as fast in team fights as it does when I’m running after the ball. The reaction times in my brain are still there when I have to dodge a still shot or a ball for that matter, so my question is: Is there a MINIMUM physical activity level that sports need to have to be considered one? Yes? Then eSports can’t ever be considered a Sport. But.

Why then, is chess recognized by the International Olympic Committee as a sport? You might disagree and the debate has been going on for years, and it’s alright if you do, but maybe, you’ll just have to accept that there’s probably more than one definition of the word sport. Look at this. These people are not here to watch five men trying to get a ball into a hoop for two or three hours. They’re here to see a whole new breed of athletes super cyber stars.

They’re here to see Faker playing Zed. They’re here to see Bjergsen playing Ahri. They’re here to see Wildturtle playing Kalista.

Do you recognize this from somewhere though? This is a community much like the football or basketball community. I find myself discussing LCS transfers and plays, just as much as I discuss the best goalkeeper, or the best goal of the week. And do you want to know what I think is the absolute best of playing eSports, which regular sports will never be able to achieve? There’s absolutely no limitations. Only you can ever stop yourself from achieving results in esports.

When you’re in that game, there’s no gender, there’s no race, there’s no religion or nationality. You don’t have to be 6 foot 5 to have a decent chance of making it. And a guy has no physical advantage over a girl, just because of his genetics. Anyone can make it, and you don’t depend on the luck of the draw to succeed.

This was actually one of my biggest frustrations in the volleyball world. I am not nearly as tall as I wish to be to be playing at a literally higher level. You end up depending on two things to succeed in eSports. Dedication and the will to improve as a player. This is the biggest reason, why I believe that, not only are eSports on the verge of becoming widely viewed by society as a fantastic competitive activity, but they are the actual future of sports as we know them. As always guys, thank you very much for watching!

This was a very special video if you haven’t noticed. It’s very personal to me, because I do play volleyball professionally and I would love to one day actually be able to play League of Legends professionally, although I might not get there, being that I am quite bad at the game… Finally, I would love to ask you that you comment your opinion and also if you could share this video with other people on social media that would be amazing, because I feel like people don’t regard eSports as well as they should, and this video might be an eye-opener.

One final note before I leave, you should know that this video would not be possible without this amazing team that backs me up: Raging Turtles. Please go to their Facebook page, leave them a like, check them out, they’re amazing and I would like to say my very very thank you for letting me join you and it’s been an amazing ride. Thank you once again.

Sakeios Out!

Back to Top