This past weekend at the Shanghai Majors DOTA2 Tournament did not go the way that Valve had planned.
Throughout the tournament the production team couldn’t get their shit together (they were later fired). Players didn’t have their equipment and members of the production team were apparently yelling at each other off camera, not very professional, especially since Valve wants to turn DOTA2 and E-Sports into something similar to real sports or maybe at least the WWE (which by the way has some of the top notch production value of anything on television).
However, it all came to a head when host James Harding was fired and replaced mid broadcast. He wasn’t fired by just anyone but by Valve co-founder Gabe Newell. Newell also threw some salt in the wound by calling Harding an “ass”.
Of course this isn’t the first time there has been drama at E-Sports events, in previous tournaments (especially Counter Strike) there has been rampant cheating, exploiting game exploits that were supposed to be reporter prior to the tournament, match fixing, and of course the occasional physical confrontation.
Valve wants E-Sports to be taken seriously like real sports and honestly it’s an uphill battle for it. The NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB are played by big giant men crashing into each other and appeals to the ID side of our brain and given that teams are in cities it gives us a rooting interest because that team represents where we’re from. It’s very accessible to anyone and everyone involved (from players, to coaches, to media) wants to invite you to join in on the fun.
On the other hand E-Sports is mostly young people and not to stereo type gamers (remember I’m one of you) but most of them aren’t giant men, and the ones who are big, aren’t big in the sense of a finely tuned athlete. On top of that many nerds tend to be elitist when it comes to games that they’re really good at. When a new player (or newb/noob) tries to join in on the fun they’re almost always chastised for their lack of skill. I think we’ve all been there when we hop into a game for the first time, especially if that game has been out for a while and most of the people playing have been there since day one. Some people stick with it and get better, others take the “fuck that” route and never come back to the game. The games that have these big tournaments like DOTA, Counter Strike, and League of Legends are notorious for scaring away new players.
Like I mentioned above this is the complete opposite of real sports as the NFL has it’s Play 60 where they encourage kids to get out and play football and their top stars go to elementary and middle schools and teach kids how to play. I for one would love to see a DOTA player go to a school and teach kids to play DOTA.
None of this is to say that E-Sports can’t be popular, because it is among its core and usually gets around 4 million views when they live stream, so obviously it’s popular but it has a long way to go to reach pro sports level of viewership.
One thing Valve has done magnificently with Steam is that they’ve made it really easy to download and play games on the PC so if anyone can make E-Sports more accessible it would be them. I’d like to maybe suggest Gabe take a meeting with Vince or Stephanie McMahon because damn if the WWE is not one of the more accessible things in sports and entertainment.
What do you think dear reader? As usual let us know in the comments below. Also for more E-Sports (along with real sports) news check out the other site I write for Goingfor2.com. Also be sure to check me out on Twitter/Instagram/Snap @jomac006 also follow the site @clashofthenerds and like and subscribe to our YouTube and Facebook page.