By Naomi Baisa, Class of 2017
At 6 a.m., the morning routine was to get up, eat breakfast, get dressed, wait for his sister so he can walk to school and meet up with some of his friends. David Liao was never one to stay out late.
“Computer. Homework. Calculator. DS.”
He listed the items he had laid out after a typical day from high school.
“I want to be the very best, like no one ever was,” he said.
Everyday he practiced so he could enter local and regional tournaments. His goal was to participate in an international tournament.
During his childhood, 9-year-old David was introduced to his very first video game by his friend Vienna. It was Pokemon Ruby, one of the installments of the Pokemon Series video games.
Since then, he has never left his Nintendo DS by his side so he can now take it to the next level.
One could say that playing video games is just a trend or a phase. For those who play competitive gaming or are considered professional gamers, it isn’t as easy as it looks, says a gamer from Indonesia.
“Try for yourself and compete in the highest level to feel that it is just as much of a sport as any other sport,” he told through the LINE messenger phone app.
Jordy Jusri, a college student, would be considered an e-sport player for the online game called League of Legends.
League of Legends is an online computer game that requires five members, strategic thinking, and coordinated team play to crush their competitor in a timed match according to the official gaming site.
For Jordy, although it is not a physical sport, an e-sport has everything it needs to be equivalent to one.
“The mental fortitude, physical fitness, lots and lots of training and practice. It’s not as physical as physical sports of course, but definitely not the stereotype people make it out to be where they say e-sports are fat and nerds,” he said.
Just like everyone who enjoys playing video games for fun, Jordy picked it up around 2009 as a casual player or someone who plays it for leisure. Before he knew it, he began to practice everyday for about 6 to 8 hours by himself and an extra hour or 2 with his whole team.
“I played and enjoyed the game, it just clicked for me I guess. I’m naturally a competitive person so I became really into the game,” Jordy said.
As the online game continued to rise in popularity along with its growing community, a company called Garena bought the license to host a local server for the game and hosted a tournament in the Indonesia Game Show or IGS.
This was the start for Jordy and his band of friends. They called themselves the Virtus Omega, to participate in local tournaments; then later to enter the biggest tournament on a national level, which is the League Garuda Series or LGS.
For the team’s first tournament, a bunch of teams battled each other to get into the winner’s bracket and the loser’s bracket. When teams enter the loser’s bracket they have a chance to bounce back to winning first place.
Each game is played one after another, the shortest match being 20 minutes and the longest is approximately an hour.
Jordy being inexperienced was dealing with mental shock that it resulted in the team being third place for their first tournament.
When they were invited to play in the League Garuda Series, the infrastructure for the tournament was changed to be more competitive. Usually, the best players are invited to play in bigger tournaments and it is based on their ranking in the game.
The ranks from highest to lowest are challenger, master, diamond, platinum, gold and bronze. This is also how people who want to sponsor players pick who they want to play on a big team for the international championships.
For the LGS tournament, it was divided into different cups or sections before qualifying for the tournament itself. First teams would participate in a smaller tournament called the Teemo Cup, then they would be able to advance what was called the Glorious Arena, and then the playoffs.
Due to it being an online game, there are times when teams experience hardware problems at the venue causing a huge amount of latency while playing their matches. Players are still able to play when this happens and will be able to win especially, when they know how to execute their game plan.
The structure was quite different when Jordy’s team got to the LGS. They participated in a round robin, where all the teams go against each other one by one, twice a week.
Jordy explained that his team flunked due to nerves, but was able to make a turn around and ended up as the top four of eight teams, which allowed them to enter the semi finals.
In his opinion, he found the national tournament to be a lot harder and that a lot of mental preparation was required.
“You can really feel the pressure since I believe it’s the first ever tournament where the games are streamed live. So you feel like people are watching and expectations are there,” said Jordy.
With this much attention e-sports is gaining recognition on a national level and soon worldwide, even the word e-sports is now listed in the New Oxford American Dictionary as, “a multiplayer video game played competitively for spectators, typically by professional gamers.”
E-sports according to different students, is just as competitive and mentally exhausting as any physical sport but some wonder if it should even be recognized as one.
“Here’s a controller and let’s see what you do,” says Anthony Lopez.
With the misconception of gaming being something that does not require any effort, “you can give me a baseball and I will suck at it and say baseball is not a sport, it’s just hitting a ball and running around,” he says.
According to the company Riot Games, Activision, a chart from IGN, and surveys, there are 32 million active players monthly, 12 million players active daily or logged on daily, and every month more than a billion hours played for League of Legends alone.
Most of these players are in the age bracket of 16 to 30 years old. The majority of the demographic would be 17 to 25.
In a posting on the Red Bull website, some universities that offer e-sports programs in the United States include the University of California, Irvine, Robert Morris University, University of Pikeville, and Columbia College.
In Norway, Garnes Vidaregaande Skule is one of the first high schools to have e-sports in their core curriculum. Also, the Arlanda Gymnasiet School in Sweden has e-sports in their curriculum.
The William Morris Endeavor – International Management Group, which is the WME – IMG Academy, an entertainment and talent company, announced that they will be training athletes in e-sports, according to the Red Bull site.
For universities, there is a uLoL Program called the University of League of Legend, that can be formed on any campus in the United States. These communities are created to share the love of League of Legends. Everything needed to know about creating the uClub can be found on the Riot Games support webpage.
Jeremiah Silva of Saint Peter’s University wishes to create a uLoL club so that it can “help, not enforce but to spread a friendly gaming environment to anyone on campus who does play games whether they be casual, more competitive, or any type of person who plays games.”
Jeremiah compares e-sports just as if it was any other physical sport, particularly like baseball.
To him, it is a legitimate sport because it is team based and even though it is electronic, there is rankings and coaching involved. It requires strong mentality, a lot of hand eye coordination, a lot of mental stimulus between communicating with team members as well as trying to predict your opponents, and a lot of pressure.
Even though the amount of players and audiences are growing in size, it’s no doubt that e-sports is going to be called an actual sport. Even with the large fan base, there will be people who disagree.
“To me personally, I don’t think it should be considered a sport,” says Aaron Zhang, a student from Saint Peter’s University.
“I think it’s in its own category, and I don’t like the fact that people are trying to merge them two together. I personally believe that they should be separate and each to their own category,” says the sophomore.
A senior claims that playing e-sports, specifically League of Legends, is great for wasting time and having fun since there are other productive things to do.
They tend to be frowned upon as Jeremiah Silva states it.
“It’s due to controversies that brings negative aspects on games, such as violence where many games have it. But it’s up to how the parents treat the kids that play and teach them about it, rather than simply having them believe it’s okay in a game that it’s okay in real life,” he says.
If society was to widely accept e-sports or competitive gaming as an actual sport, it would be able to empower a generation says Jordy Jusri.
“This isn’t just a random trend, it’s movement, it’s a change and it’s real,” he said.
He believes that it will open brand new opportunities for the younger generation but also to be enjoyed by the older generation as well. All we need is acceptance and an open mind.
With the way technology is advancing, Tenzin Choney, states that although it isn’t physical, there is a possibility of it being more physical with the enhancements of virtual reality gaming that could be a reality in 15 to 20 years.
Now pursuing any game competitively, he has realized that he had to balance out everything from studying, to having a social life, and doing what he loves the most, Pokemon.
“Food. Computer. DS.”
That is what’s waiting on David’s desk after coming back from a long day from college.
He believes that gaming, although it is a past time, it is more focused on children due to the amount of time they have and the less responsibilities they carry.