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What are esports and why should you care?

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Most of us will know how video games have grown to become everywhere in modern life. But gone are the days of playing simple solitary shoot-em-ups, as esports have transformed the way that people now play video games.

Esports are competitive gaming contests where groups of gamers gather to play against each other either remotely or through special LAN parties. The competitive gaming phenomenon was kicked off in Korea just a couple of decades ago, and since then it has grown to become a billion dollar industry that covers all of the continents in the world.

Gaming fans in the North-West are in for a treat when the Play Expo esports event comes to Manchester at the start of May. This showcases exactly what esports are all about as gamers will congregate to play top titles like Overwatch, Fortnite and League of Legends in the hope of winning some significant prizes.

Whilst many millions of people regularly tune in to watch esports tournaments via live streaming channels like Twitch, it’s at these gaming competitions that things really come to life. All over the world from Stockholm to Shanghai, massive gaming extravaganzas are held in front of thousands of cheering fans as famous esports teams like Fnatic, Cloud9 and 100 Thieves aim to claim prizes that are often six-figure sums.

Such is the success of esports that it has already started to outperform many traditional sports. Whilst sports like cricket and rugby often have a hard time in attracting audience numbers, the fact that around 200 million people are thought to have tuned into the last League of Legends World Championship finals should tell you all you need to know about this rapidly growing entertainment phenomenon.

So should esports actually be classed as a regular sport? The International Olympic Committee appear to be having a difficult time with esports as they have claimed that the passive way in which it is played and the violent content of games like Counter Strike Global Offensive and Overwatch makes it unharmonious with the Olympic ideals.

Despite this, a growing number of traditional sporting organisations are proving to be remarkably swift to jump on the esports bandwagon. From the likes of football clubs like Manchester City entering their own team of players in competitive gaming tournaments, to the establishment of a Formula One Esports Series, it seems that many sports are seeking to get involved in competitive gaming in order to attract a younger fanbase.

Similarly many betting sites such as www.overwatch-bets.com have been established to allow customers to bet on their favourite esport just as they would any other traditional sport. However, it’s important to know that esports have some way to go before they full enter the entertainment mainstream.

Above all, the world of esports can often seem confusing and hostile to outsiders. The toxic nature of esports community boards has meant that many newcomers to gaming will often be put off by the antisocial comments of some the community. Plus the lack of clear tournament formats and absence of reliable player statistics has meant that esports is sometimes not taken as seriously as regular sports.

In addition to this, as esports are based on video games, then there have been fears that the games are too closely linked to their parent organisations to be judged to be a fair and impartial competition of skill. And when you consider the fact that many esports have a fairly short life, it’s clear that traditional sports should not be too scared just yet.

However, one thing is true, and that is that esports are hugely popular and are showing no signs of going away anytime soon. So whether it’s a massive tournament in the US, or a small gaming contest in the North-West, it looks like esports are here to stay.

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