On Esports


On Facebook this week, The Guardian shared a link to an article regarding the recent Fortnite world cup. It focused on Kyle Giersdorf (the kid who won) and the amount of money he earned. The headline was “US teenager becomes first Fortnite World Cup champion, winning $3m” and it was all intended to be factual. But it’s a loaded statement. I mean, in announcing the winner of Wimbledon, would they mention how much dosh Djokovic took? No, they’d just state that he’d won, and, I don’t know, discuss his immaculate swings or something. But in this article, the money was in the article headline. Basically, it was a “People are Earning Money Playing Video Games How Ridiculous” article. The comments section made it worse; they were filled with witticisms like “@MikeDavies we’re in the wrong business lol” and “@JaneWilliams your little Timmy is going to make us rich lmao he plays this all day!!!!!” and, well, you get the idea. They’re absurd to the general public, these esports tournaments.

Fortnite Winner
Kyle Giersdorf; stardom through Fortnite

But how are esports really any different to regular sports? Let’s think about it, why are sports stars put on a pedestal? It’s because they’re disciplined; they get up early, every day, after a good night’s sleep; they work at their chosen activity sensibly and calmly, yet with determination. And there’s natural talent, but we don’t talk about that because we like motivational speeches.

The same goes for anyone who’s successful at anything – they worked hard to get where they are, so well done them. With professional gaming, however, it’s hard to grasp. Why? Because it’s something you do when you just can’t be arsed with the day.

But now you can making a living out of it (and then some) and the world is confused. A professional video gamer? Why not pay people for sleeping past midday, before slumping in a couch eating cheesy Wotsits till bedtime? Because that’s what hardcore gamers do, right there! Lol!

Esports tournaments are relatively new, and although it seems ridiculous to become a superstar and earn megabucks playing Fortnite and Call of Duty, is it really that ridiculous when we think about it? It’s only due to the “cheesy-Wotsit-couch-potato” label that the idea is so absurd.

Stereotype  – the cliche career-gamer.

There must be plenty of gaming tournaments, but let’s stick with the first-person shooter for now. You’d need quick reflexes, the ability to keep a calm focus, and a natural talent at the game at hand. And then there’s the discipline; you need to play a shitload of Fortnite to win the Fortnite world cup finals. So there’s waking up early every day and honing your skills.

The idea of spending your days honing your Fortnite skills will seem like a ridiculous venture to some, but is it any different to other sports training? Day after day, the same drills and exercises, until finally you master it – finally you’ve cracked that move, become more competent, stepped up a level. True, you don’t get physically fit staring at a screen reacting to visual stimuli with your fingers and thumbs, which is why I mentioned darts and chess. Oh, and snooker. Snooker’s hardly cardio.

A prolific industry, yet to reach mainstream. Or social acceptance.

So, what am I saying here? Parents – let your kids play video games all day and skip revision? Well, if they’re showing promise, then.. maybe? You’d do it for other career-based pursuits like football and ballet, so why not Fortnite? But only if they’re showing promise. Which, I suppose, is difficult to tell with video games. It isn’t like they have a coach that can take the parents to one side after training one evening to say, “you know what, little Stan’s showing real promise here, I can make a few calls…” or however the hell it goes. Cori Gauff is earning bucket-loads in tennis grand slams at fifteen, and Kyle Giersdorf earns it playing Fortnite. What’s the difference? Nothing much, just physical fitness and societal prejudice.

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