More and more prominent stars such as Rick Fox
The Top 3 misunderstandings about eSports
“But that’s not a sport!”
This article was originally published in the Daimler blog.
The discussion of whether eSports are genuine sports has been going on for quite some time. Double-digit growth rates, sold-out stadiums, millions of spectators and award money totaling several million euros clearly show that eSports stopped being a fringe phenomenon long ago.
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Let’s begin with a question: “What are eSports, anyhow?”
eSports are professional competitions between players of computer and video games. An eSports is always a kind of gaming, but not every kind of gaming is an eSports. In gaming, the focus is on entertainment, in eSports the focus is on competition. As in traditional sports, eSports have tried and tested structures, uniform rules, award money and player salaries.
eSports games are played in arenas and followed by fans. There are eSports stars (such as Søren Bjerg
1. They’re just violent “shoot ’em up” games!
No, there are many different genres of eSports. The most common ones are real-time strategy games, shooter games, and sports/racing simulations. If we classify the different games according to the number of active players per month, the number of spectators and the amount of prize money paid out annually, two strategy games are at the top of the list: League of Legends
In these games, two teams of five players each compete against each other. At the start of the game, each player selects an identity out of a list of more than 100 characters, each of whom has individual strengths, weaknesses, and special powers. Certain characters complement each other especially well, thus creating advantages such as increased mobility. The players choose their characters one by one, with the teams alternately taking turns. That enables players to choose a character who is an especially good opponent of another character already chosen by the competing team. This is called a “counter pick.”
Additional strategic depth is created by “bans” — the possibility of excluding individual characters from the selection process. This “pick & ban” phase is very strategic, and it requires lots of tactics and anticipatory moves, comparable to chess. The goal of the game is to conquer the opposing team’s base, so the composition of one’s own team already lays the foundation for victory.
2. eSports athletes aren’t real athletes!
For eSports athletes, the focus is not on physical strength or stamina but on the intellectual challenges involved, which are sometimes far greater than those of traditional sports. Above-average powers of concentration, excellent hand-eye coordination, lightning-fast reaction times, a capacity for teamwork and strong communication skills are crucial.
Intense daily training is essential for developing high levels of mental and physical performance. The training functions in the same way it does for traditional sports. Just as a race car driver tries to improve his lap times, a MOBA player trains various characters and moves. Physical fitness is an important foundation for success. That’s why eSports athletes, just like soccer or tennis players, have fixed training times, coaches, and nutrition plans, as well as sports psychologists and physiologists who help them bring out the best in themselves. Studies conducted at the German Sport University in Cologne have shown that the cortisone level of eSports athletes is the same as that of race car drivers and that their pulse rate of 160 to 180 beats per minute is the same as that of a marathon runner.
For some eSports game series, such as those of Dota 2 and League of Legends, there is no firmly defined time limit. The game doesn’t end until one team conquers the opponent’s base. For League of Legends, the record for the longest league game was more than 90 minutes. In major esports tournaments, the players must sometimes play as many as five games in a row, delivering top performance for many hours at a stretch. The tough demands placed on eAthletes can also be inferred from the brevity of typical eSports careers. A player’s reaction speed and ability to concentrate start to decline in his or her mid-20s. As a result, even though players in this age group have more experience, it’s almost impossible for them to keep up with younger players.
3. Is this not only for nerds?!
The eSports community is global, young, digitally literate, and very well-educated. The core audience is between 18 and 34 years old. Women account for about 30 percent of the total — and this proportion is increasing. Two thirds of esports fans are university students or graduates, and many of them are studying or have degrees in IT, engineering or management. According to the Nielsen market research company, more than half of all esports fans are also interested in traditional sports. Whether they’re nerds or not, it’s certainly a very interesting target group.
When and why did Mercedes-Benz get involved in esports?
At Mercedes-Benz we recognized the tremendous potential of this sector early on, and in 2017 we became the first automaker to get involved with eSports. Through this move we are expanding our sponsorship portfolio with a view to the future. "As a globally operating brand, we want to access new target groups“, says Britta Seeger, the Board of Management of Daimler AG member who is responsible for Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales. Our goal is to continue promoting esports and generate added value, for example by offering our mobility solutions and establishing exciting new formats.
What are the next steps?
By extending and expanding our partnership with ESL, we want to continue promoting eSports at the national level as well. We will continue to be involved with the ESL One Dota 2 tournament series as a premium partner and the presenter of the Mercedes-Benz MVP award.
Our latest film, “The Way,” which we’ve posted on YouTube, shows the development of gaming from its beginnings to the eSports of today, as well as the connection with our brand. At ESL One last October, we also referred to this development in our stand concept, the Mercedes-Benz Gaming Lounge. Visitors could play classic historic games such as Pac-Man and Frogger on retro gaming stations, and various racing simulations were offered on the original seats of an 450 SEL from the 1970s. But current eSports games such as Dota 2 could also be played via professional gaming setups.
In addition, at the beginning of 2019 we announced our investment in SK Gaming
I can only recommend that everyone approaches eSports just once without any prejudice — and if you’re already curious, just visit an eSports event.