The day of reckoning for the eSports community seems to be fast approaching, as major sports network ESPN recently announced they’d be hiring content creators specifically to provide for competitive gaming. The new job posting on ESPN’s career site specifically seeks an editor to oversee all eSports content from ESPN, along with planning and generating ideas for content. The eSports editor is required to have expert knowledge in a variety of popular competitive games including League of Legends, Hearthstone, and Counterstrike: Global Offensive. The position is part of ESPN’s ever-growing interest in the eSports scene, after promoting major events including their piece on League of Legends prodigy Faker and the Dota 2 competition The International.
While some continue to protest ESPN’s move towards more eSports coverage, the numbers don’t lie. Competitive gaming has grown enormously over the past couple of years, and with it the number of fans, prize amounts, and notoriety. The growth is so rapid that predictions indicate professional gaming will match the NFL in terms of viewership by 2017. Even collegiate sports is getting involved, with nearly as many schools offering collegiate eSports teams as they do baseball teams.
Not everyone is as open to the idea of eSports being welcomed into the “real sports” category. ESPN’s President John Skipper said last year that he considered eSports a competition akin to chess, but not a sport, and wasn’t interested in coverage it. Regardless of definition though, it’s clear that there is money to be made in eSports and ESPN can’t ignore it any longer. As well, eSports has moved closer to those “real sports” over the past year. Fantasy eSports is a growing industry in itself, and some corporations such as ESL are implementing policies against performance enhancing drugs in the same way major league sports do. The one true obstacle ESPN must overcome is competing for coverage and clicks in an already massive industry.