Professional Gamers: The Unsung Athletes

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Source: Wikipedia

Professional gamers are becoming more and more recognized as professional athletes. In August 2013, a player was given a visa to the US to play League of Legends competitively. This has happened before but it’s always a big step for e-sports. Just take a look at Dota 2’s International also back in August. There are many moments that can be likened to a professional football match. The commentary, the excitement and the dedicated fans are just scraping the surface.  Professional gamers comprise a closely knit community of passionate individuals who aspire the best.

It pays to be a professional gamer…

There are also many incentives to compete. Take Dota 2’s International 2013 prize pool of $ 2.8 million as an example. That is how high the stakes have become. League of Legend’s prize pool in 2012 and 2013 were also well over $2 million.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What’s more, professional gamers are earning relatively big bucks for what most people would call a waste of time.  Simply sitting at a desk in front of a screen.. (sound familiar?) Some of these pro-gamers may take a number of tournaments to get these large sums, but they have a great time doing it.

Money isn’t everything however.

Crazy viewership

League of Legends also reached another milestone last October when its Season 3 World Championship Final was watched by 32 million people. Viewership on Major League Gaming events rose 334% from 2011 to 2012, and Twitch’s growing community shows how many people love to watch their peers. In September 2013, Twitch had received funding and currently boasts more than 45 million unique viewers per month. YouTube alone is a testament as to why it is entertaining to watch gameplay.

So, what’s the secret?

As with every sport, what gets you to glory is pure teamwork.  History has shown us that a really good team is an unstoppable force (think Microsoft’s staff in 1978). Peter Drucker says that every team should be like a “tennis doubles team.” It’s a team that seamlessly changes roles when needed, anticipates weaknesses and empowers its teammates.

Professional gamers’ teams are no different.

MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas) are great examples of a genre where gamers are highly dependent on one another.The roles are defined at the beginning, and it’s hard to change mid-match.  Professional gamers however, switch up the momentum and shift strategies; balancing their team’s priorities. Individual skill does play a big role; yet not as significant as the team’s collective skill. As always, teams are then only as strong as their weakest link. In the end, having a notably weaker player will always pose room for exploit by rivals.

Can you spot the difference?

Stay tuned to hear more about a sport which bears its own athletes. Ones that have come to challenge our definition of a traditional athlete; not in physicality and talent, but rather through determination and passion to be the best.

So there is in fact a pot of gold waiting if you wade through the endless sea of people glaring at screens calling each other noobs.