The idiot’s guide to eSports: What is it and what are they doing to Charlotte?

The idiot’s guide to eSports: What is it and what are they doing to Charlotte?
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The world of eSports is huge. It’s expected to take the NHL’s spot as the fourth most popular sport in the nation.

And with Team EnVyUs inking a deal with SierraMaya360 to call Charlotte home, it’s about to take over our backyards.

Team EnVyUs, or the Boys in Blue as they’re often regarded, came together in 2007 and became revered for their Call of Duty performances, though their Starcraft II, Gears of War and Halo plays, among other, have caught spectators’ eyes. Since, they’ve garnered over 113,000 followers on Instagram, 30,000 on Facebook and 351,000 on Twitter. With the $1 million+ worth of revenue they’re bringing in, the team is one of the biggest, most important teams in the realm of gaming right now.

[Agenda story: Top eSports squad Team EnVyUs is close to a deal to move to Charlotte]

Photo credit: Turner Sports ELeague

Photo credit: Turner Sports ELeague

eSports are already known in Charlotte, with 192 gamers meeting up to go head-to-head in the Queen City eSports MeetUp group. But by bringing the Boys in Blue to Charlotte, SierraMaya360 managing partner Amish Shah believes Charlotte will be catapulted onto the eSports map.

[Agenda story: eSports powerhouse Team EnVyUs signs a deal with Charlotte venture capital firm SierraMaya360]


And yet, somehow, there’s a good number of people aren’t sure what, exactly, they are. Case in point:esports-tweet

And don’t look at the Agenda team – aside from Andrew playing the occasional NBA 2K and my absolute lack of coordination when it comes to using a Playstation controller (or any controller for that matter), we have no gaming experience. Especially not in a professionally competitive sense.

So what’s the deal?

Photo by Sam Churchill via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Photo by Sam Churchill via Flickr (Creative Commons)

‘eSports’ is exactly what it sounds like: sports in which almost every aspect is electronic. Simply put, it’s competitive video gaming in professional sport form.

Professional video game players come together to form teams and play against other teams in competitions and tournaments. The competitions and tournaments are bigger than you’d expect; tournaments began to go global around 2000 and have only had positive growth, skyrocketing from 10 tournaments per year to more than 260 in just ten years. People make careers out of this.


The teams are run like sports teams and are against performance-enhancing drugs, just like a real sport.

The teams are built the way a, say, MLB team is built: There’s a coach, manager, analyst, psychologist and, most importantly, players that dedicate time to practicing day in and day out.

And yes, the same way there’s a concern within MLB teams when it comes to steroids, drugs meant for concentration time and concentration along with mood and motivation – such as Adderall, Selegiline and Vyvanse – to keep them on their game are a cause for concern in eSports. Even energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster raise eyebrows. But while certain tournaments have banned them and made them punishable by expulsion, the governing body as a whole hasn’t taken a stand.

Most importantly, the players are paid like professional athletes, with top players bringing in upwards of $2 million in prize money; last year, the prize money pool was $64 million. And the tournaments that those 64 million dollars are put toward? They have opening and closing ceremonies complete with big-time musical guests (Imagine Dragons played the 2014 League of Legends World Championship in Seoul, South Korea) and sold-out arenas of fans who’ve gathered to watch the game on the big screen.

But despite the real sports feel on paper, it’s hard to determine whether or not eSports can be classified as a “real” sport.

Despite the fact that eSports has everything that a “real” sport does, including training, practice, precise execution under pressure, fans, tournaments and trophies (everything except for, you know, the true physical exertion), they’re often referred to not as a “real” sport, but rather a competition or a mind sport.

But if broadcasting and fanbase were the defining lines of “real” vs. not, eSports would absolutely be considered a real sport. Tournaments are broadcast on platforms like ESPN and TBS and arenas sell out regularly. In fact, a public facility to watch the tournaments is in talks to be built in Charlotte.

What it can definitely be classified as is a competition.


So what, exactly, is going to be happening in Charlotte?

Two things: Team EnVyUs is building a training facility for practice and an entertainment facility for public viewing, and they’re receiving an undisclosed amount of money in the form of an investment from SierraMay360 to help with things like sales and marketing. While certain members are relocating to Charlotte full-time, not all are expected to; the training facility is more geared toward boot camps that team members are welcome to attend.

The ultimate end goal? Seeing families attend an eSports tournament the way they’d attend a Knights game. I guess we’ll see.

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