Art & Culture

Electronic Sports League features big prize money

Millions available to winners of competitive gaming competitions

 With the Electronic Sports League (ESL) tournament approaching, all eyes are on fan favorite teams to take the trophy and $1 million prize in the Commerzbank-Arena in Frankfurt. But out of the many teams playing in this Defense of the Ancients 2 tournament this summer, how many of them are from California?

 California was never big on the competitive video game scene despite holding one of the first video game “Olympics” in 1972 where the video game “Spacewars” was played at Stanford University. Compared to today’s prize pool of hundreds of thousands of dollars, the 1971 Spacewars Tournament had a prize with a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.

Europe and Asia have huge competitive scenes for Electronic Sports and have huge corporations and sponsorships dedicated to committed gamers who devote their life to performance. Natus Vincere, a European gaming organization and Invictus Gaming, a Chinese organization, have collectively won over $5 million. Making video games seem like a great opportunity to get paid for doing what you love.

“I would love to get paid to play video games,” voiced San Benito High School senior Quinn Mendoza. “I think everybody would if they were given the chance, my parents always said video games were a waste of time. It’s a little late for me to switch tracks, but I’m glad kids growing up today will be given the chance to make a career out of doing what they love.”

A sport is an athletic activity that requires strategy and skill. There is no doubt that there is some athletic activity in video games. In South Korea, Koreans play a game called Starcraft 2 and even have entire television shows dedicated to those players. The Korean masters of the video game in an average competitive game reach about 600 actions per minute, that comes down to 10 actions per second. But this still begs the question whether or not video games are a sport

“I’d say yes, video games are definitely a sport.” said senior Jordan Gaiton. “There is so much strategy to account for, speed and precision. With all this is mind the only people being paid to play video games are the best of the best. And Candy Crush doesn’t count.”  

So where does the divide start? Why don’t more people in California play video games on a higher level? Money is a big issue, professional video game players are known for only using the top-end gear. SteelSeries, Alienware, Razer, iBuyPower, GUNNAR, are all corporations that specialize in providing the best equipment to the best gamers. These companies sponsor various players for Call of Duty, Halo, Counter-Strike, DotA 2, League of Legends, Heartstone, Starcraft, and the Battlefield series.

The Electronic Sports field is vastly expanding; the 2014 Valve International prize pool in Seattle, Washington boasted almost $11 million. Many modern-day gamers, who are just playing casual or hoping to go pro someday, are looking to these players in envy, because with all hustle and bustle of today’s working world, it’s good to relax and settle down with a good game.


Cody Burrows