NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Esports flourish in a virtual world

During the pandemic we have had a significant lack of sports due to social distancing. Golf courses where shut down, basketball and, football. Only recently we’ve had a return of some sports. During the lock down there has been a sport that took place in a virtual world and wasn’t affected by the lockdowns or social distancing at all.  Esports, esports has been the only sport that has managed to stay open during the pandemic do to the fact it doesn’t strictly require face to face interaction.

Ever since the rise of the medium there has been a debate between whether it is a sport or not. Some people believe it is because it requires focus, strategy, and determination. While others don’t think it is because they believe it only requires minimum effort.

When asked about this question David Arivella  the coach of the NECC Esports team said “Honestly in the beginning I did feel as though it wasn’t a real sport, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Even though you’re not physically moving your body the same as traditional sports, the amount of hand eye coordination, mental preparation, and skill required to excel in anything at a high level is tremendous.”

After getting over the argument of whether esports are a sport or not more, more people are seeing how lucrative the industry really is.

The highest paid team according to Statista is team Liquid whose total prize money comes out to 35 million dollars.

When asked on how profitable the industry is Arivella said “Extremely. Esports at the professional level will be in the billions in the coming years,”  because of the high demand and high prize pools and high demand we have seen some mainstream celebrities invest into Esports teams. According to looper, athletes and sports teams’ owners like Steph Curry, Michele Jordan and Robert Kraft have all invested into the industry.

The pandemic has caused the major problems logistically for most sports teams.

During a normal tournament for the pros they play in an arena with one team on one side and one team on the other. However, the pandemic has caused them to have to play from home.

However, this is fine because with a good Wi-Fi connection anything is possible. When asked about how the pandemic has affected practice for the NECC team Arivella had to say this, “The pandemic has not hampered NECC that much in terms of being able to play. Thankfully everyone has still found a way to play together. We all communicate over Discord (a messaging and voice chat app) almost daily. As for the industry, I think it is finding new ways to overcome the challenge.”

With most sports there is a separation of men and women, men in basketball compete in the NBA and women compete in the WNBA. This separation has caused a divide in viewership. However, in esports gender isn’t a divider, Women are fully able to compete in the pro leagues with the men.

When asked if gender plays a role in esports, Chris Long, captain of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate team had this to say “It doesn’t at all. Gender doesn’t have anything to do with eSports at all, just performance and results,” what also make esports a viable sport is how inclusive it is. Since it mostly relies on mental  skills most people can play and get good, when asked about this Chris said “Everyone can do it as long as they have the will to practice, learn, and have fun with it.”

If you look online, you can see a ton of people who want to go pro. From all age ranges man or woman people want to reach that level but only few do. When asked to give advice on how to compete at the pro level Long had this to say “I’m not a pro, but if you really want to get good at something be passionate about it. Put time and practice into something you enjoy. This applies to any game or hobby.”

Esports has a overcome a lot of hurdles to get to this point. It still has ways more to go before its fully excepted as a legitimate sport by the masses.

Overall, the future of the sport look bright. When asked about the future Arivella said this: “The future of esports is only growing as video games are continuing to grow in popularity. Someday it may even overshadow traditional sports in the United States as it already has in countries like South Korea.”

Just like esports, football started as a game that was played amongst children. But as adults started to notice it intermural teams where formed and overtime it gained more and more of a following. So who’s to say that Esports won’t follow the same path as football or other mainstream sports.



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