eSports: the latest 21st century phenomenon or passing fad?

Game watching hooks

eSports has existed for a long time with shooters, fighting games and StarCraft. More recently though, the revived interest in Dota 2 and similar MoBA's such as League of Legends have turbo charged the eSports movement. Now more games, even ones like Hearthstone, are becoming part of the competitive game watching phenomenon.

At its core, Dota 2 is a game all about making your way from your base to the enemy stronghold to kill their ancient. The map is split into three lanes that players can travel along and strung along these paths are defensive towers that you and your minions have to take down. That's Dota 2 in a nutshell. But there's also much more to the game once you factor in items, combos, farming monsters and newly added bounty rune power ups.

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The captive audience watches in anticipation

Lin explains because of this complexity, watching a Dota 2 match is very engaging since you can see the player's skill level. At the same time viewers will think about how they could play out an encounter in their own head.

Even a novice can appreciate the action that comes in giant clashes and narrow escapes during a Dota 2 match. One elderly Madison Square Garden usher even noted "this is the most exciting thing I've ever seen!"

On the uptick

With eSports rising in popularity, there are bigger events happening more frequently every year.

"Flashback to three years ago, you'd see one event every month," Lin quipped. "Now you're seeing an event almost every single weekend with events popping up around the world and they're happening very frequently."

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DotA2 catches an interesting cast of characters

ESL One's Managing Director of Pro Gaming Ulrich Schulze noted that eSports exploded in popularity last year and continues to see steady growth.

"In the past it used to be during times of the year we had a few weeks off without events, we don't really have it anymore" he said. "Our studio in Cologne, Germany is booked throughout the year for big events."

Schulze said eSports is only going to get bigger and recalled that in January 2013, ESL One held its own inaugural stadium event. This year the competitive gaming organization held an event at the 52,000 seat Commerzbank-Arena, which was once used as one of Germany's 2006 World Cup football stadiums.

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Evil Geniuses wins on Day 1

On December 6 and 7, Intel Extreme Masters will hold a League of Legends and StarCraft II event at the San Jose SAP Center. With a capacity over 18,000, the venue is set to welcome one of the largest eSports events ever held in North America.

From the look of these numbers, it doesn't seem like eSports are going to disappear any time soon.

  • Watch the ESL One New York 2014 Dota 2 competition in its entirety on Twitch and YouTube.