The eSports events themselves are sights to behold. Take for instance the glitzy IGN Pro League finals in Las Vegas, where gamers are celebrities and fans are tripping over themselves to get close to the stars.
“That particular event is one of the most interesting and coolest I have been to,” says Team Dignitas manager Michael O’Dell.
“The amount of fans that turn up is immense. And when you are walking around the hotel with some of the star players, every footstep is greeted by a: ‘Can I have an autograph? Can I have an autograph?’ That is where we are now. Players are mobbed. The crowd wants to be close to the top players with the game they are really in to. They follow you everywhere.”
Professional players enter eSports in a variety of ways, via tournaments, friends or in the case of Power Gaming’s Callum Swan (aka Swanny) via the website decerto.net.
He says:?“It’s the hub of the European competitive console community. I used the website as a platform to transition from casual online play to attending and competing at offline or LAN events.”
Team Dignitas’ Zak Tallis (aka Riddlez) adds: “I got my Xbox and decided to play Halo for one event. After that I looked for a team. Ever since then I’ve been involved in all aspects of the scene, to admin, content, competing, media and the like; this is how I got involved with Decerto.net I joined it, and posted as the usual folk did. I worked my way up into top teams and I haven’t looked back since.
“The eSports scene is an exciting world to be a part of. Numbers are increasing by the thousands per game. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like in five years’ time.”
Alex Buck (or Buk20) plays in a team called Western Wolves and for peripherals manufacturer MadCatz, and has made a good living from playing video games professionally.
“There is always competitions, tournaments and events happening around the world,” he says.
“So you always have something to watch or compete in. I love that through eSports, I’ve had the chance to visit several different countries, receive salary for playing Halo and compete against people from around the world who enjoy video games as much as me.”
But there’s more to eSports than just watching or taking part in big events. Much like most sports, anyone can get involved, whether that’s competing at IPL, or with mates at home.
“It is not all about the big tournaments with large cash prizes. Yes this is the pinnacle of eSports but it is not to say this is where eSports starts and ends,” says Vas Roberts, sales director at Heaven Media.
“The level of gaming you see at these major tournaments is what the majority of people who are active in eSports aspire to be at.
“In reality this is only the surface of the industry, much like the amount of people playing in the Premier League represents only a small portion of those that are playing football around the world. There are becoming more and more places for people of all skill levels to get involved in a structured competitive environment, either online or offline.”