Among dozens of famous athletes, NFL, NBA and MLS team owners, sports journalists and professional league commissioners speaking at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, eSports was featured as a mainstream genre in the sports industry for the first time.
ESports, short for electronic sports, is a professional platform for video games where the world’s best players and teams play head to head in front of an audience, on live television or streaming on the web. The professional Starcraft league, Global Starleague (GSL), in South Korea has been enjoying national exposure similar to that of the NBA or NFL since the launch of the original Starcraft in 1998.
But now, for the first time in the United States, eSports is becoming wildly popular in a way that has never been seen before. Founded in 2002 by Sundance DiGiovanni and Mike Sepso, North America’s Major League Gaming has contributed a great deal to the rise of popularity in eSports across the United States.
MLG provides a platform for professional players and teams to compete at the highest level for large sums of prize money. In MLG’s seasons, the league travels on a circuit to different cities, similar to NASCAR and Formula 1, where players compete playing Starcraft II, Halo, Call of Duty, Tekken, Super Smash Brothers, and many others games.
DiGiovanni joined other eSports pioneers on the Sloan Conference panel, including famous Starcraft II caster and professional gamer Sean “Day9” Plott, CEO of Blizzard Entertainment Mike Morhaime, and CEO of professional gaming team Evil Geniuses.
Last year was the most successful year for eSports in the United States with the addition to Starcraft II to the MLG pro circuit, attracting players to compete in live events from all across North America, Europe, and Asia.
As the popularity of eSports spreads across the United States, 2012 is shaping up to be the most successful year in eSports history in North America. So keep an eye out for nerds taking over your favorite bar to watch MLGs.