ESPN eSports Issue: A Sign of Change?
Yesterday, Adweek's Brian Flood tweeted the cover for the upcoming issue of ESPN:
That charming face up there is real-life Cole Train Marshawn "Beast Mode" Lynch, the Seattle Seahawks' star juggernaut and now Call of Duty's newest bad guy.
Immediately people were yammering about it: What's with Call of Duty and its celebrity cameos? Are they desperate? Can Marshawn even act? Can he plow through lines as well as people?
Here's my question though: are none of these people appreciating the fact that freaking ESPN is about to release an eSports issue?
As in, the highest-ranking sports network on the planet! Is going to release an eSports issue! And this only a bare 9 months after their president John Skipper publically slammed eSports as not being "real sports"!
Pewdiepie and Marshawn Lynch are mentioned on the same cover of a major incorporated sports magazine. This feels so surreal.
Esports are a global phenomenon with spectators in the millions, but here in America you might never know it unless you're in the right circles. Esports like League of Legends and Starcraft have yet to enjoy the massive mainstream viewships here that they have in places like South Korea or China. DOTA champions are not household names in these parts.
But this new magazine issue could be a turning point.
If ESPN is willing to publish news about eSports, who else will follow? This could be the first domino to fall in a chain reaction of networks cashing in on a trend, expanding the sphere of public acceptance to places it's never been in this hemisphere. It has to happen eventually. Maybe, with the release of this issue, we could be ones to witness its beginning.