Are esports real sports?

If you're anything like I was as a parent, seeing your kids playing video games in their rooms all day long would drive you crazy.

But what if I told you that video games may not be the waste of time you may think they are?

I recently was made aware of the rapidly expanding esports industry, and now I see that there may be some real opportunities to make a living for yourself just by playing games.

Two weeks ago on my Project X show, I sat down with Knicks Gaming head coach Kyle Rudy to find out what the fuss is all about. Kyle explained how serious the esports business is and how dedicated their viewers are, and I had a huge awakening. I still don’t know if I'd consider it a real sport but I now know it’s a real business!

Following the show, I had Kyle answer some simple questions about esports to get all of my blog readers caught up with one of the biggest trends in entertainment.

ME - Briefly explain what esports are.

Kyle Rudy - Esports is a rapidly growing industry that we've seen jump into the entertainment scene within the past few years.

Professional video game players are performing at the highest level in their respective games. They compete against each other in leagues and tournaments that are broadcast online for thousands and; in some cases, millions of viewers. These viewers often choose to watch other people play video games, rather than watching a traditional sports broadcast.

ME - Why did the NBA get involved and start their own esports league?

KR - With how rapidly this industry has grown, it is no shocker that the NBA wanted to get their cut of it. They felt that there was an untapped market of team based sports games they could expand with. Their massive amount of resources allowed them to pull both fans of gaming as well as core NBA fans who had yet to be introduced to professional NBA 2K video game competition.

ME - Generally speaking, how similar do you believe running an esports team is to running an actual sports team? 

KR - It may surprise you how similar running an esports team is to running an actual sports team. Both games have a team dynamic that needs to be maintained, and chemistry plays an important role in team success. Each week, we have to prepare much like actual sports teams. This includes: watching film, practicing, scrimmaging, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

ME - What are some of your responsibilities as head coach of Knicks Gaming?

KR - I personally have to create and manage a schedule for the team that frequently includes media opportunities they receive. There has to be a fine balance between allowing our players to take advantage of the opportunities to market themselves and the team, while still have enough time and energy to give their all towards winning the next game.

ME - What do you think is in store for esports in the future? What are the logical next steps for esports, and how big do you think they can get?

KR - The future of esports is unbelievably bright, and I for one can't wait to see it continue to grow.

The industry is on pace to generate over $900 million in revenue just this year, with estimations exceeding $1 billion over the next few years. The vast majority of that money comes from North America, China, and South Korea. I would like to see the industry grow more in Europe, which I think in time it will because I've been seeing more teams emerge throughout the continent.

As with regular sports teams, having a team to root for in your market helps grow the business. In the case of the 2K games, we have already seen NBA fans jump on board to root for their 2K league affiliate.

ME - Make the case for watching an esports game over an NBA game.

KR - The NBA has strategically separated the regular league from the 2K League so you wouldn't have to choose between them.

If the leagues overlap for an extended period of time, I think you may see some fans shift over to watch the 2K League for its entertainment factor. Players are giving their all and their personalities are on full display, and the games are only 40 minutes long.

ME - Do you consider esports real sports?

KR - There are people who will argue that esports athletes are equivalent to the athletes you see on your TV running up and down the field or court. I don't necessarily agree with that, but it's not as far off as you think it may be.

ME - What does it take to be great at video games? Most athletes seem to be born with incredible talent, so is it similar for gamers to have particular traits to help them get where they are or does it just take constant repetition?

KR - While an esports players doesn't have to be in great physical shape to be the best at their profession, they do have to have a very distinct and unique skill set. These players have off the charts hand-eye coordination that is basically second nature to them. They are able to have their minds compute a button combination at the perfect time while evaluating the scenario playing out in their game. Their combination of coordination and wittiness makes them rare breeds.

You can improve at gaming by repetition, but to be at the elite level you must be born with a special mind and the abilitiy to pick these unique skills up. As these gifted humans grow up and develop their craft, they are able to become elite at a given game, just as a professional athlete perfects their sport.

ME - Can you make a living off of playing video games? What is the earning potential?

KR - Most people assume video games are just a hobby or a leisure time activity after coming home from school or work. Thanks to esports, video games can be your profession in 2018.

Currently in the first year of the NBA 2K League, players make a base salary of $32,000 with free living for just 5 months of work. The potential winnings exceed over $100,000 in that same time span. In other more established esports leagues, players are making upwards of $3 million a year in winnings, not to mention their enormous endorsement deals.


Watch my Project X episode with Kyle here:


I'm bummed. This should have been my calling! Being only 5'7, I was already disadvantaged athletically. If I were born a little later, I could've figured this out and made some money. Damn!

Tonight, Kyle's Knicks Gaming team will play Blazers Gaming in their playoff round at 9:00 PM EST! You can stream the game online through Twitch. Click here to check it out.

Do you think esports are real sports? Sound off in the comments below.

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