How a community of gamers has contributed to the success of esports
Esports is a near-billion dollar global entertainment industry that is recognized by numerous countries as an athletic sport. With nearly 200 million fans worldwide, it is impossible to deny that professional esports are a rapidly flourishing spectator sport.
Closely following the success of professional esports as an athletic industry is the rapidly developing amatuer scene of esports. Behind the success of both the professional and amatuer scene of esports is a global community that helped thrust a niche entertainment sport into the global limelight.
Amatuer esports essentially consists of teams and players who do not have official contract deals with specific franchises. These players and teams compete in tournaments without the support of professional organizations. Usually, these players participate in amatuer tournaments as a means of exposure or practice in order to become professional players. In my view, the community built around the shared love of competitive video games might be amatuer esports’ most important aspect, and its most significant effect.
My first experience with amatuer esports took place during my sophomore year of high school. I still remember my reaction when I saw a flyer for an esports club at my school. I couldn’t contain my excitement — I was literally jumping with joy. I joined with the intention of playing on a team that competed specifically in League of Legends, which is a multiplayer online battle arena that otherwise known as a MOBA game. I aimed to compete in competitive
League of Legends tournaments because it was the one game I was good at, and it’s also the most popular game in all of esports.
My teammates were people from my high school that I had never met or interacted with before. Yet, we were able to comfortably socialize and unite as a team due to our common love for esports. None of us played football, basketball or baseball, but I’d argue that we were learning much of the same lessons as those who played on our school’s traditional sports teams did. We learned discipline, how to receive constructive criticism and communicate more efficiently, all while putting in hours of practice both as a team and individually. Our biggest learning moments were during our games against other schools. Competitive League of Legends games demand split second reactions as well as calculated decision making under pressure.
Whether we won or lost, we always learned something from our games and from each other. It was a generally good experience for everyone, and we had a lot of fun. It’s hard to believe that some people still say that video games are just a waste of time.
The next time I participated in an amatuer team, I was invited by a close friend to try out for a position on his team. However, I was told I would have to compete with other candidates for the spot. This taught me that for some things in life I would have to compete with other people. Thankfully, I earned my spot on the team.
On my high school team, despite all the effort that was put into our games, we were still rough around the edges in terms of consistency and effectiveness. This team was dedicated and we focused on sharpening our ability as a collective in order to win. It was with this team where a heavy emphasis was placed on strategy and dedication. We participated in numerous tournaments, learning more with each victory and defeat. Unfortunately, the team disbanded as our personal lives conflicted with our team schedule.
While other universities offer students esports scholarships, Azusa Pacific does not. Nonetheless, this did not stop me from joining APU’s esports team once I came to college. With this team, I realized that my teammates and I were competing for a guaranteed future for esports at APU.
This team brought me the closest to official amauter matches out of all the other teams I was on. We got as far as competing in the 2020 Immortals University Fall Showdown, a tournament hosted by a professional esports organization, Immortals. It would be one of the first and most significant tournaments we would ever compete in for our alma mater. Although we lost in the first round, we gained the small victory of introducing APU into the world of amatuer esports.
Many people may fail to realize that the broadcasting aspect of esports is just as important as participation itself. Shoutcasters provide live commentary and analysis of games to the audience. They are a significant part of the esports experience as they not only provide relevant information, but also control much of the atmosphere and energy that contributes to the viewing experience. It’s through this role that I continue to participate in the amatuer esports community.
Last summer, I participated in more amatuer tournaments, this time taking on the role of shoutcasting for the games. Although the fantasy of becoming a professional player remains just that, the experience of influencing the energy and hype of a game through shoutcasting is just as gratifying.
Two years ago, I had even reached out to award-winning, professional League of Legends shoutcaster Clayton “Captain Flowers” Raines, asking him how I could become a better shoutcaster and what it would take to become a professional. From his experience, it was similar to the journey of a player.
“I got hired because I was incredibly driven and worked to create opportunities to build my reputation, brand and portfolio even when none presented themselves,” Raines said. He also said he worked to constantly improve and adapt. I took his advice to heart.
If it wasn’t evident already, amatuer esports isn’t just a group of kids playing video games. It’s the product of an entire community’s love and effort, where every level of active participation takes dedication, hard work and skill. It is the esports community’s involvement in both the amatuer and professional levels that makes every aspect of esports, as both a sport and entertainment medium, all the more meaningful.
Perhaps after reading this you might be more inclined to check out amatuer or professional esports, as either a form of entertainment, competitive sport or as a means to connect with others. Or maybe, you might try and find your own community. Esports proved to me, and to millions of fans around the world, that our hobby could be more than just a hobby. The same could be said for whatever you enjoy. This could be possible if you put in the effort of connecting with others who share the same love you have, for whatever it is you love doing.