I don’t love sports, I love my city. Ok, that’s not entirely true. I do enjoy watching sports, but I see sports as a way to get together with friends and enjoy a game with some food and drinks. The shared love for a team is what brings us together. But our love is only for local teams. I’ve often wondered if I would even care to watch a sporting event and not care for either side. Luckily this question was recently answered, except not at a traditional sporting event.
While at NALCS I couldn’t figure out who I wanted to win. Going into the match, I knew Team Solo Mid (TSM) was the favorite. Although I couldn’t find enough compelling reasons to exclusively root for either team. I asked a few friends who they wanted to win, most sided with TSM. I wondered why they were cheering for a specific team. A few said they’ve been following since the beginning of competitive League, and others said they’re fans of the YouTube content either team has been releasing. I could relate to this. When Call of Duty: Ghosts was popular, I remember following players of OpTic Gaming. By watching them compete in various events, I became a fan of players, not the team. I was consuming content from all of the players, which led to getting an understanding of the scene as a whole, but it still isn’t the full “sports fan” effect I’m wanting from esports. I need the localization of a team to make it feel like I’m rooting for something I actually care about. Not to say I don’t care about the players but there is a traditional emotion that wont connect until I can relate to the team on a bigger scale.
Watching matches unfold during NALCS, everyone cheered for every moment that was exciting. Imagine watching a football game and having your team fumble and still cheering for them. I don’t know if the sportsmanship for esports is just on another level or if fans just didn’t care and were there for the love of the game. It was a bit odd at first but quickly became satisfying to watch and enjoy the gameplay.
Now let’s look at recent headlines where Blizzard announced their Overwatch League. Teams coming from Boston, Los Angeles, Miami-Orlando, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, and more to come.
Once there are Overwatch League matches in Boston, I’ll definitely attend, except this time I’ll know exactly who to back because they’re representing my city. Let’s hope that other games follow suit and make it possible to enjoy as a traditional sport. A full blown scene where season tickets are an option. In a city where all you see is sports jerseys, I can only imagine the merchandise, to one day see a fellow fan and engage in conversation because they are wearing a jersey. Next time I’m in the office I just want to say, “Did you watch last night game?” or walk into a conversation about certain plays and how amazing they were. Afterwards, take what we learned from watching them and take it into our own games. The exact same as if you were to watch the Patriots make an amazing play and you go out with friends to try and attempt the same.
Esports is growing and based off what I personally got to witness at NALCS and what I see at every single one of the live events that are streamed, the people are ready for it to take off also.