Recent eSport on ESPN not received well by sports fans

heroes of the dorm

This past Sunday was a historic moment for gamers and eSports fans alike, since an eSport event was broadcasted again on ESPN. Traditional sports fans, however, were not as welcoming or accepting of a video game tournament being shown instead of the more traditional sports programming that they were used to.

This event featured the game Heroes of the Storm, the new MOBA brought to us by Blizzard. The MOBA pits teams of 5 against each other as players play characters from Blizzards popular franchises such as Diablo, Starcraft, and World of Warcraft. This is Blizzard’s attempt at entering a game genre that is already dominated by League of Legends and Dota 2, MOBAs that are traditionally the center of eSport matches. This event was the final match in the Heroes of the Dorm tournament where teams from 64 colleges competed for the prize of $25,000 scholarships for each member from Blizzard. The 5 game match ended with UC Berkeley winning 3-2.

According to an article by Mashable, those that were expecting a more traditional sport were upset and confused by the fact that ESPN (more specifically, ESPN 2) was showing a video game tournament. One viewer, for example, questioned whether this should be considered a sport at all in his tweet to ESPN.

@espn how is playing video games considered a sport? You need to get back to your roots and show real sports. — Mark Chevremont (@mchev_18) April 27, 2015

He wasn’t the only one. Others expressed their confusion and frustration with comments the legitmacy of the tournament being a sport, let alone it being shown on ESPN2, while others were completely confused on what was going on.

WHY IS ARIZONA STATE PLAYING UC BERKELEY IN WHAT LOOKS LIKE WORLD OF WARCRAFT ON ESPN 2 — Boone Moody (@boone_moody) April 26 2015

And this one:

And I thought poker on ESPN was a stretch…now they are showing guys playing World of Warcraft or whatever this game is…what is going on? — James Wallace (@james_wallace5) April 26 2015

This raises the question: should eSports be featured on channels like ESPN whose viewership is mainly made up of traditional sports fans or should there be a new video game only channel (like what G4 was) that is dedicated to this sort of event?

In reality, as awesome as it would be for these events to be legitimized by a larger portion of society, is it effective to have it on TV when, in my opinion, it seems like most of targeted audience is made up of cord cutters who don’t have cable channels like ESPN and get their entertainment from online.

Either way, this was another awesome milestone for the eSports community and even the larger video game community as a whole. Hopefully it will not be the last.

What do you think? Is having these events on ESPN helping legitimize eSports or should eSports have their own internet channel?

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