The co-owner of one of the world’s biggest pro-gaming teams has told MCV that the popularity of eSports means it must be defined as a true ‘sport’.
“There’s a percentage of the population that will just never accept eSports as what they would consider a ‘legitimate’ sport and, frankly, I don’t really care if they ever do,” explained Steve Arhancet, co-owner of Team Liquid.
“It doesn’t matter - their opinions or approval about what we are doing isn’t going to stop this enormous movement to digital, spectator, on-demand eSports.
“The numbers don’t lie. Whether or not they think it’s a sport, it is.
“It kind of reminds me of all the people that thought cell phones wouldn’t take off, or that computers were not useful. Wake up and look at the numbers, they don’t lie.”
He added: “Simply put, eSports viewership is just insane. It trumps that of the average baseball or hockey game. It’s also an audience that many people do not understand - male millennials.
“The tournaments and structure have become more professional, players take the idea of a real eSports athletic career more seriously and larger non-endemic companies are investing through sponsorship and endorsements.”
The comments come a week after BBC Radio 5 Live aired a live debate entitled ‘Gaming - The Rise of the Cyber Athletes’, which aimed to answer the question of whether professional gamers could be regarded as equal to traditional sportspeople.
The programme was preceded earlier in the week by former professional footballer Danny Mills stating that eSports (alongside snooker and darts) couldn’t be classified as a sport because, in a ‘real’ sport, “you have to wear specific footwear”.