32,000,000 people watched two teams of five duke it out to see whose skills, determination, and practice would pay off with high-paying sponsorships and throngs of fans. But this isn't the NBA, it's the League of Legends. In short, LoL is a competitive computer game wherein players draft and block various "champions" with different skillsets from a communal pool that they will pilot in specific team roles along a common battlefield. Since it's beta test completed in 2009, it has grown from a a fan-made hobby of an already-popular title to an official "esport" with 67 million players worldwide each month and approximately 7 million playing at any given time. Even Forbes has recognized the massive success of this competitive esport!
The beauty is that nearly anyone from anywhere with an internet connection can go pro. Small town boys and girls can mix it up with big-city folk. Teams from around the world that all don't even have to live in the same city or country can compete! Your skills are measured on a "ladder" and if you perform well enough, will get an invite to compete up the chain to the world championships! Skill, reflexes, critical thinking, communication, and strategy are all needed in order to play making this more than just a Mario platformer. All without the risk of concussions, which seems to be quite the concern on the professional and collegiate levels of football.
More and more I believe we will see the rise of esports' participation and broadcasting. They will never truly replace the athletic training nor camaraderie of a physical sport, but for many kids and adults it offers a great opportunity (and in many cases less expensive one) to teach life lessons and form bonds that will last a lifetime. With as big as this game has grown in 5 years, and Facebook getting over a billion users in 10 year), when do you think we'll see the viewership scales begin to tip in favor of esports? Especially when they are already attracting sponsors such as Coca-Cola!
Would you be interested in local and/or school-based teams competing in esports such as League of Legends? Could you cheer on the Sandusky Bluebuffs as they throw down with the Huron Skillshots? The Clyde Midlaners vs. the Norwalk Yorldes?