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Posted by AGORACOM-JC at 12:18 PM on Thursday, May 9th, 2019

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Esports; an Analysis on Competition Between the Digital World and the Physical

In this July 28, 2018, file photo, fans watch the competition between Philadelphia Fusion and London Spitfire during the Overwatch League Grand Finals competition at Barclays Center in the Brooklyn borough of New York. With eight new franchises and plans to take its regular season on the road for the first time, the Overwatch League is opening its second year a few steps closer to its goal of becoming a truly global, city-based esports league. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

You’ve heard all the stories. We’ve seen all the legends. You’ve watched all the highlights. The formula remains the same throughout time. Two opponents enter an arena to do battle where only one may walk out the victor. We see this formula on display in the form of our favorite sports, from football to tennis. However, there is an emerging medium for competition in recent years: Esports.

What is an “Esport”?

At its core, an esport is simply a form of competition using video games. As nerdy as that sounds, the esports industry has exploded into a multi-million dollar business, complete with coaches, players, and sponsorships on the line. For as long as esports has been around, people have questioned the legitimacy of the medium and whether the various games constitute as a “sport”.

By definition, a sport is “all forms of competitive physical activity or games which, through casual or organized participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants.”, according to the SportAccord International Convention.

The video below is from a 2004 Street Fighter match between players “Justin” and “Daigo” in front of a watching crowd. The score is 1 – 1 and this is the very last round:

What just happened in this clip is the reason for all forms of competition. It’s the equivalent of a Dwayne Wade buzzer beater from behind the arc for the win. It’s the equivalent to a magnificent “upper 90” shot from Christiano Ronaldo in the World Cup.

The definition seems to speak for itself. Esports are competitive games with insane amounts of organization and impressive communities that enjoy watching the abilities of the players. So much so, in fact, that some players have landed sponsorships, have met with celebrities and others have gone into league-style drafts.

Professional Esports

In most esports, professional, organized play is focused on matches between teams in a league-style of play. Blizzard Entertainment announced the Overwatch League for their game Overwatch. Ubisoft Entertainment created the Rainbow Six Pro League for Rainbow Six: Siege, a game entering its eighth season of regular play. To keep things simple for the average sports fan, however, it will be easiest to talk about a sport they might already know: basketball.

Some of the largest sports media groups in the world have bought into the growing phenomenon of esports including ESPN, Bleacher Report, and even Major League Soccer.

NBA 2K League

The NBA 2K game series is a collection of basketball simulation video games created to emulate the National Basketball Association. The 2K professional league was announced on February 9, 2017. At the start, 17 of the 30 NBA teams have their own NBA 2K League team to represent them in the opening 2018 season.

The University of Florida’s very own Chris “Konrtul” Cantrell, 21, was picked No. 8 in the first round of the 2018 NBA 2K League draft by LA Lakers Gaming. Cantrell’s journey to the professional level of gaming started similarly to any 90s kid’s childhood. Playing Game Boy games late at night and then graduating to bigger and more mature platforms, like the Nintendo 64, Xbox, and even PCs.

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