The Pandemic and Esports


Devin Rankin

While the sports community erupts into chaos as many leagues shut down, one sports industry lives on: Esports. With the ability to play online from anywhere in the world, Esport organizations do not have to delay their seasons. This pandemic has had a major impact on the popularity of Esports, as people are stuck inside, so they tune into these. 

    Popular games such as League of Legends, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and Valorant have gained massive numbers in the past months. Twitch, a live-streaming service that these games are hosted on, has increased in numbers by 31% over the month of March alone. These are insanely large considering Twitch usually already has millions of people online at once. ESPN recently hosted a tournament for Riot Games’ new game Valorant, and tens of thousands tuned in to watch. Riot Games is also continuing with all of their different League of Legends competitive leagues, and each amasses anywhere between 100,000 to 200,000 concurrent viewers everyday.

    Of course, Esports have not been only impacted positively by this. Large tournaments are held in massive stadiums, such as all of the League of Legends tournaments. These have all been canceled because of COVID-19, so many problems have arisen. Ticket sales and selling merchandise gives a lot of revenue to these companies, so having your tournament purely streamed online is not going to make you much money. Also, these tournaments, much like regular sports, have referees to make sure that nobody is cheating. When playing online instead of LAN, it is extremely hard to tell if someone is using cheats. Sure, many games have anti-cheat, but these can be bypassed easily. Another issue arising is “ping”. Ping refers to the amount of network latency between the player’s computer and the server. When hosting a tournament, latency is not an issue, because it is LAN (Local Area Network) play, meaning all computers are set up on the same network. Now, since everything is done online, many players will have worse latency, meaning precise movements will not be as easy.

The attention that the Esports community is getting right now is great, but I hope that soon all sports can be back to normal. In the meantime, all we can do is find new hobbies to pass the time, and Esports is definitely a great one.