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eSports is the new bomb

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Crowd at 2018 Sydney IEM

Crowd at 2018 Sydney IEM

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ESL

Crowd at 2018 Sydney IEM

Ryan Ausden, Reporter

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Over a matter of years, eSports has grown from a minor and ‘geeky’ event to partake in to an international industry that is rapidly evolving.

Last weekend a gaming tournament named Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) was held in Sydney at Olympic Park for the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. All up 16 of the world’s best Counter Strike teams played off for the US$250,000 prize pool.

By definition eSports is, “a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional players”. Counter Strike is a first person shooter game with teams of five people tackle each other. The glory goes to the team with the last person standing, or if you are on the terrorist side then setting off your virtual bomb can also deliver victory. Teams alternate between being terrorists and counter-terrorists every 15 rounds.

Team FaZe, which has an international European lineup took out the tournament, winning US$100,000, beating Denmark’s team Astralis in the grand finals in a dominating fashion winning the series three games to Astralis’s zero.

The Australian teams; Renegades, Grayhound, Order, Legacy, and Chiefs did not fare so well, with the best result coming from team Renegades who secured fifth/sixth place. Regardless, the performances of all the teams was great to see, as the Australian scene is still developing in comparison to the skill that the European and American teams present.

IEM Sydney is regarded as a minor event, as it is only quarterly. The major tournaments run twice a year and feature prize pools up to $1,000,000 USD.

This prize pool is still regarded as small in comparison to some of the other esport game tournaments. The largest prize pool to date was the International DOTA 2 2016’s US$20 million pool. This was predominantly funded through crowdsourcing by people that played the game.

With the prize pools getting larger with each event that passes, the question is raised when will eSports become regarded as ‘professional’ by the public and by those who don’t play games?

In a research paper titled eSports Futures in Australia Marcus Carter, Robbie Fordyce, Martin Gibbs and Emma Witkowski wrote: “Australia currently lacks a dedicated eSports service, channel, or broadcaster providing any real sense of the scope of eSports worldwide.”

They then described that the main reason for this is because Australia is such a remote country geographically. The lack of local Australian tournaments means that there is limited space for players to develop and become better at the game, to the point that they aspire to become professionals.

The influx of funding for both players and organisers is allowing events to have a higher production costs and larger prizes. This could lead to eSports  becoming a professional industry that will become a major part of society as normal sports are today within 10 or 15 years.

The paper concludes that “that the creation of an Australian eSports environment with attention from both broadcasters and games developers would foster an Australian scene and related audiences for competitive gaming.”

Professional player Dylan “Kyoto” Brown formally from team Avant, said: “It’s rapidly grown in the last 12 months, from the game’s release in 2013 until the end of 2016 Australian players were attempting to hold their own against the world’s best.

“But with only being able to play and practice in their spare time it was considered more of a hobby than a job, whereas all European and North American teams were on a full working salary and had living quarters to play from. When Australia sent a team to live in North America to play professionally that’s when everything took a turn for the better.”

Brown also says that more sponsors were jumping on the bandwagon as they saw the investment of sponsoring Australian teams as a “low-risk high reward mentality”.

Brown reinforces the importance of being salaried to be able to play the game with a fully dedicated mindset saying: “When I wasn’t salaried I was working part-time and studying, which led to lack of motivation and exhaustion from trying to put all my remaining energy into something that I wasn’t getting rewarded from, whereas when I got a salary, my mentality changed completely and I was 100% motivated to give all my effort into the game to be the best.”

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eSports is the new bomb