Temple University students Mike Moscarelli and Sweta Prasad don’t need to leave their rooms for a front row seat to see their favorite players.
As avid esports fans, the two learn gaming strategies by watching tournaments via Twitch, a streaming site.
“The level of skill is just absolutely ridiculous,” said Moscarelli, a junior media studies and production and finance major. “You’re watching from your own perspective, so you know how well you play, but you’re watching the best 200 people in the entire world.”
Esports is a form of organized, competitive video gaming where different leagues or teams compete in various types of video games, including League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Madden. On Main Campus, organizations like the Temple University eSports Club host tournaments and watch parties to engage members and develop their skills. In the club, a student oversees each video game and its events.
This buzz on Main Campus is part of a growing trend in this type of gaming. Esports viewership totaled 173 million frequent viewers in 2018 and there is an expected increase to 201 million this year, according to the consumer data analytics site Statista.
Last month, Comcast announced plans to build a $50 million, 3,500-seat esports arena at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. The venue is one of the first official esports arenas in the U.S. Total esports revenue jumped from $493 million in 2016 to $655 million in 2017, with revenue projected to top $1.5 billion by 2021, Newzoo, a gaming and esports analytics site, reported.
Prasad, the Overwatch game lead for the Temple eSports Club and a freshman biology major, said online games are more accessible than traditional sports.
“While I don’t particularly understand a lot of sports, video games are pretty easy for me to pick up because even though there are multiple types of different video games, it’s very easy to just sit down and watch people do super well,” she said.
Esports tournaments can be viewed online on streaming services like Twitch or during live events at Xfinity Live! or the video game venue Localhost Arena at 3rd and Poplar streets.
Fans can watch online streams at home, but the Temple eSports Club and fans like Moscarelli like to have watch parties at the start of a new level of a game or a new professional season.
Junior math major Malvin Prifti competes in tournaments in his spare time and enjoys building his skills by watching live streams.
“It’s a lot more accessible to look at something a professional player does in League of Legends or Overwatch or Hearthstone and apply it to yourself and try to emulate what they do, which makes it a lot more engaging to be competitive in those games,” Prifti said.
Though he enjoys learning from esports experts, who make money through prize money, live streams and sponsors, Moscarelli likes that gaming requires no prior skills.
“There’s no sense of, ‘I spent my whole life training and I went to college and played at college and then I got into the pro leagues,’” he said. “Most of the people are still just a bunch of nerdy kids who got good at playing and now that’s their job.”
Fans like Prifti said esports offer a large community component, too. Players can communicate in real-time when playing through apps like Discord, a text chat server often used by gamers, in addition to attending in-person events.
“I’ve always been a gamer at heart, and I think that goes for a lot of people,” Prifti said. “At competitions, there are some who may not even be competing, but they’re just game. It’s a mix of that competitive sports aspect, in trying to win and trying to do well for your team, as well as just having fun with the game you’re playing.”