ESPN just helped eSports become a little more like a real sport

What's next - Magic: The Gathering on The Player Channel?

ESPN is giving esports a serious go

ESPN announced today that it will cover competitive gaming in a major way with the debut of its own eSports vertical.

ESPN Esports, complete with a dedicated Twitter account, will bring interviews, behind-the-scenes coverage, and even post-season report cards for gaming's biggest professional leagues.

"Today's launch is our latest push to reach and connect with this growing and passionate audience," said Chad Millman, editor in chief at ESPN.com, in an official press release. "Fans will find the same level of quality content and journalism that users of ESPN.com have come to expect, including in-depth looks at the competitive gaming world and on-site reporting from the major tournaments."

ESPN's new hires also highlight the Disney-owned network's commitment to eSports, with the vertical staffed by Darin Kwilinski, Rod Breslaum and Tyler Erzberger - writers with proven backgrounds in the eSports, ranging from eSportspedia to Major League Gaming.

The first true test for ESPN's eSports wing is the North America 'League of Legends' Championship Series, which starts January 16. Preemptive coverage has already begun on the site for League of Legends, in addition to DoTA 2, Hearthstone and Halo 5: Guardians.

Fighting games, a genre known for its passionate fanbase and competitive scene, are oddly absent. However, that could change as EVO 2016, the premier fighting game tournament series, rolls around later this summer.

ESPN isn't the only major network giving eSports a fair shake. TBS announced its own gaming league last winter during The Game Awards that will host a televised Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament complete with a prize pool of $1.2 million (about £793,000, AU$1.6 million).

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