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Do You Watch Esports, Why or Why Not?


Operation Sports

Do You Watch Esports, Why or Why Not?

Roundtable Question: A lot of the biggest esports events related to sports games either started or hit a new stage in the last week. If you watch esports, why do you like them? If you don’t, why don’t you have interest?

Chris Huber: I don’t watch esports because I’ve never had the desire to watch somebody play video games (I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to any childhood friends of mine who were forced to watch me play video games). Outside of GTA, I exclusively play sports games because I live in Cincinnati and real-life sports haven’t really worked out for me in my lifetime. So instead I can try to make things happen or let them play out how I’d want them to happen in video games, which I know is a degree removed from the real thing. So watching somebody else do the same thing is two degrees removed from the real thing.

Now, forgive my ignorance, but I feel most esports are based around people creating their own characters or teams of players, which I have no connection to. In real-life basketball, for example, I might watch a guy play four years of college basketball then another 12 years in the NBA. And with NBA 2K seemingly more and more focused on the single created player experience and less and less on the traditional modes I play, I’m less likely to tune into something that advertises that decision. I also just feel like there’s too many things to watch. I don’t really binge watch anything, and I only watch like maybe five or six shows and that still sometimes feels overwhelming. In other words, I don’t feel like I even have the time to get into it. I get why some people are into it, but it’s just not for me.

Michael Larson: The only esports I can watch are non-sports related esports (or sports-adjacent like Rocket League) as I find the meta of default Madden/FIFA/NHL/etc. so unimpressive and unappealing. I just can’t get into watching a game built around replicating a sport when it doesn’t do a good job at representing said sport. If I want to have fun with virtual football or hockey, I’ll do so on my own and enjoy the experience I make for myself. I also think that I can do what many of the pro Madden, FIFA, NHL players can do with enough practice. The skill gap between pros and your average top leaderboard players isn’t big enough to be impressed by the pros, in my opinion.

Esports such as Rocket League, CS:GO and League of Legends are games that I can watch as there’s no real-life expectations added to them. The games and their respective metas are what they are, and those players can do things in those games that I would never be able to do no matter how long I played. This element gives me the same experience I’d have watching a professional hockey game. They think and react at levels that are seemingly impossible to reach even if I played the game nonstop and that’s what makes watching those esports impressive to me.

TJ Henderson: I think eSports are fine, which is to say that I am okay with their existence. The reason I can’t bring myself to watch them consistently is partially because I could be playing the game myself, but also they tend to represent a version of gaming that’s always bothered me. Generally speaking, these players have spent so much time with a game that it starts to resemble less of a game of skill and more of a winning pattern, or a “correct” way to play. This results in somewhat of a sanitized experience and, depending on the game, a fairly predictable chain of events.

Matthew Ederer: I do not have any interest in esports, yet. I could easily see myself getting into them one day, but esports have yet to really attempt to “get” my crowd, that is the 32-year-old dudes who have no real desire to watch people play video games. In order for esports to matter to me, they would need to either start playing games that I care about — every single second of esports I have ever seen centers around League of Legends, give me the NBA Street 2 League! — or start showcasing people with personalities that I can connect with and cheer for. Like all sports, esports’ mainstream success will be determined by their ability to create stars. They aren’t doing that yet, and no I don’t know who or what Ninja is.

Chase Becotte: I feel like I am the target audience for esports. Any time I’m not watching real sports, I’m probably on Twitch watching streams. I watch competitive Rocket League, and I will always at least check in on competitive FIFA, Madden and the NBA 2K League. However, the majority of my time is not spent watching esports because they don’t keep my attention. I echo some of the concerns above that the sports-game esports are not really like watching real sports at all. In Madden, you’re watching a ton of running plays right now. In the NBA 2K League in the past, it’s been five-out where minimal stuff is run and it’s just either going isolation or running around a pick and roll over and over until a breakdown occurs. With FIFA, it’s a little more interesting to watch because it’s a little harder to “do the same thing over and over” but a lot of the players on the teams are still the same or are designed in similar fashion because there’s still a meta.

Basically, these games are just not dynamic enough yet. They’re not interesting because everyone is the same more or less. So instead, I focus most of my time on Twitch towards watching particular people play games because those personalities help to make any game interesting to watch.


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  1. I've never been interested in esports and I'm not sure I will. I love playing video games as much as anyone but I think my main motivation for playing is my competitive nature and I just like to play any sort of game whether it's board games, arcade games, or fantasy football, video games is easy because I can just play against the CPU or online.
    eSports is something that I think is trying to fit in the athletic sport category but I just don't think I can ever give it that respect. No disrespect to those who are good enough to be apart of these competitions and make money off of it, that's great for them. I'm just old school I guess and it actually makes me cringe at the thought of people playing video games for a living, I think I just consider it nerd culture. Don't get me wrong I'm a huge nerd but I just can't accept this as a sport. I guess I have to look at it more as a comparison to a competitive chess player except there is actually more money to be earned it seems because of the following. I just dread the idea of kids pursuing the dream of playing video games instead of going into another field that could benefit society. Just my opinion for now.
    No. I have no interest in watching scrawny nerds puff out their chests like they're actual athletes when they've performed well in a video game.  I also can't stand all of the childish nicknames all of the players have for themselves and the immature trash talk (Madden tournaments, especially). Finally, I'll just play the games myself instead of watching others play if I get in the mood to be entertained by them.
    But as a 37 year-old, I know I'm not the target audience. They're setting the foundation for the future by attracting young fans to grow with them over the years. I think e-sports will be huge in the next 10-15 years. And for those e-sports "athletes," I applaud them for getting paid for playing video games. They've worked the system well.
    Can't wait for this bubble to burst. There's nothing less appealing than watching some random dude play a game that you don't even enjoy playing yourself and looks nothing like the real sport.
    The strange thing is that sports games were more entertaining to watch before companies decided to invest in esports. But instead of an honest competitive scene it's just an elaborate new marketing campaign/advertisement for their pay to win micro transactions. It's no surprise that the meta is laughable, companies are offering in-game rewards just to get decent viewing numbers, contestants hardly make a living and no one else cares.
    While I would never consider watching e-sports, and cannot remotely understand the interest in it, I would say the same about bowling, golf, figure skating, car racing, etc. To each his own!
    Big NO for me. I'd rather watch real sports or play the game myself. Watching Esports makes more sense to me than watching someone play Fortnite or other games like that though.
    Similar to what others have been saying,I don't watch e-sports and don't ever plan on watching it. If I have interest in a video game (and the time to spare), I would go play it myself, as it's a lot more fulfilling and engaging. Sports are just a bit more inaccessible (i.e. I can't just go out and play football with full gear and rosters whenever I want) and there is actual wonder to be had with watching pure athletic talent (that I could never achieve) shine vs. watching some gamers manipulate a gamepad well. Plus, I find it funny that, at least some of the time during e-sports, you'd be watching your screen of some gamer watching their screen while they're playing. It just doesn't appeal to me.
    My lord "no" - I can't think of a bigger waste of time than watching other people play video games..
    That's just my opinion and preference, please take no offense if it's your thing.
    Hell no. Don't even play anything online any more.
    Went thru that stage of gaming years ago and got it outta my system.

    Haha you make it sound like some drug you did in college that almost ruined your life.
    Hearthstone and PUBG were the two main games I watched all the time. Stopped PUBG watching maybe a year ago when everyone started playing fortnite and other games ( ain't watching fortnite if you paid me )
    Hearthstone just **** the bed the past year and a half. I might catch a tournament now and again on twitch but its not a priority in the slightest. Although recently found myself catching some battleground streams from Kripp or Savjz since I actually play that game mode.
    My follow list use to be PUBG and HS. Now its basically GTA RP. Games in general is at a low ( for what i am interested in ).
    I was never a big online multiplayer guy in the "esports" genre. I don't even have a mic, don't play FPS games anymore ( COD MW and Americas Army were my last MP FPS ), have zero interest in League of Legends or that other one.
    NEVER been a sports game online player ( or viewer ) either. Always been about sim/franchise modes for me.
    Place me firmly in the camp that enjoys watching tournament style play of FPS type games, but I cannot watch sports game played competitively. I hate to sound like that guy, but most of what I see in the sports e series games are what I think is wrong with the direction of sports video games.
    Imagine if eSport tournament players played CoD multi-player like an RPG...walking up to one another and emoting each other to communicate and then walking around the map together to try and find all the weapons as their quest. You would scream, "What are you guys doing??!!! That is NOT how you're supposed to play the game you morons!!!!".
    That's how I feel when I watch any eSport of a real-life sport....

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