ESL Hands Out $2.5 Million In Well-Earned Prize Money
Whether you choose to call it a sport or not, eSports is on the rise.
The European eSports organization, the Electronic Sports League (ESL), has announced (via GameSpot) that they handed out $2.5 million in prize money in 2013. Contests were held in 21 cities across 15 countries and 5 continents. ESL described it as a "truly global year of competition." ESL CEO, Ralf Reichert, said:
"The last 12 months have brought about enormous changes in the eSports landscape. With production quality reaching ever-high levels and viewership growing at immense rates, public discussion has shifted away from critical evaluation of eSports to the simple question of 'how fast will it continue to grow?"
The ESL has a big 2014 planned as well. They will host the EMS One Katowice Counter Strike: Global Offensive Championship at the IEM World Championships in Katowice, Poland. The grand prize is $250,000, and the event will be held in the Spodek Arena, which was visited by the likes of Pearl Jam and Deep Purple for the purpose of recording live albums.
What is a "sport," anyway?
If you were to ask me, I wouldn't call professional gaming a "sport." In my personal estimation, a sport should require some form of physical fitness; if you're the best in the world at something, and still have a beer gut, I won't call it a sport. This is also why I don't view things like pool or darts as sports--they're games that demand a huge amount of hand-eye-coordination, precision, strategy and practice; but you really don't need a lot of physical ability.
That being said, there's a flip side to that coin. If the mainstream media - which constantly takes jabs at professional gaming - is going to say games like professional pool and darts are sports and show them ESPN networks, then in all fairness you have to call pro gaming a sport as well. Right?