Into the E-Sports World1)
Where do countless spectators gather, scream, and cheer? It’s not a concert hall but at the league of E-sports. E-sports, which stands for electronic sports, refers to sports that are played through online video games. According to Article 2 No.1 of the E-Sports Promotion Act, the official definition is “games and ancillary activities that are played between people”. Unlike general sports where one’s physical ability is important, e-sports capitalizes on one’s mental abilities. Like other sport, E-sports has amateur and professional divisions. E-sports classifies one game as one sport, and online venues host leagues on it. One sport can host more than one league. Also, like general sports, E-sports have domestic and world leagues. The most popular world leagues are ‘League of Legend World Championship’, also called the ‘Lold Cup’, and ‘Overwatch League’. The Overwatch League, which was once only held in LA, has expanded to the world, following international popularity. These leagues are active in Korea, too. Korea E-Sports Association acknowledges four games as being official league play: ‘League of Legends (LOL)’, ‘StarCraft’, ‘StarCraft 2’, and ‘PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds’. Among these leagues, the most active in Korea are ‘LCK’ and ‘LOL’. E-Sports are also popular at Sookmyung. In 2019, Sookmyung students were active in the ‘Sookmyung Overwatch League’ and its Viewing Party, where people watch the league together and talk about it. As such, E-sports are loved not only at Sookmyung but all over the world.
With E-sports receiving much attention, E-sports have increasingly moved toward the global stage. At the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, E-sports were selected to appear as a demonstration sport. Despite technical problems at that time, there was a huge positive response, which suggested the possibility of E-sports as being selected as official event at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games. It also drew attention to the idea of whether E-sports could be introduced to the Olympics as well as the Asian Games. Some people oppose E-sports because of their violence; however, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to make a team to present E-sports as official event in 2019. While there has been demand and recommendation to do so, E-sports have yet to be adopted as an official event for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Nevertheless, people expect it will only be a matter of time. In addition to be recognized, E-sports has become popular in many other ways. In Korea, E-sports players and broadcasters make appearances on famous TV shows. Faker, a player who has the most LOL league wins, has appeared on the show ‘Radio Star’ and toped real-time trend for a day. Idol Star Championships, which airs every New Year’s Day and Korean Thanksgiving Day, established an E-sports event since last year. During the event, Jeon Yongjoon, a renowned game castor, made an appearance. With the popularity of E-sports, the number of people dreaming of becoming casters and players has increased. There has even been a rise in the number of academies specializing in training casters and players. In the past, students who wanted to become professional gamers had to play games in PC rooms, but today there are training centers that focus on playing, skills, and strategies. The more popular E-sports becomes, the more active E-sports’ influence in our lives.
1) Choi Seungsub, “A Study on Policy for the E-Sports Industry②... the Shortcut to Vitalizing Korean E-Sports as an Olympic Event”, Sports Seoul, November 20, 2019