I Need More Showmanship From eSports, And I Need It Now

Think fast – what’s the biggest difference between traditional sports and eSports? A few things that come to mind might be the competitors’ appearances, actual “athleticism”, and skill sets… But don’t stop there – think broader. The stages, the lights, the charismatic announcers, the rivalries, the storylines… That’s the big difference I’m talking about.

No matter where you grew up, you probably have at least a faint idea of what your local sports team’s biggest rival is. Even if you’re completely uninterested in sports – you’d know the Red Sox and Yankees have a rivalry if you grew up in greater Boston. It’s just in your DNA as a local. It’s unavoidable. I think that is where the appeal for eSports is lost on me, because its still difficult to latch onto for a casual viewer.

I love playing video games. I love playing competitive multiplayer. But do I want to watch somebody else play Halo? Not really. Would I in the future? Maybe, if the circumstances were right. After all, how does any new fan get into football, basketball, or anything else? In order to garner fans who are new to eSports or even completely new to gaming in general, here’s what I think needs to happen.

I need charismatic announcers.

Who are the five greatest sports commentators of all time? Jim Ross, Jim Ross, Jim Ross, Jim Ross, and Jim Ross. He spits hot fire. There just simply isn’t anybody in eSports right now the have been able to match the intensity of a local sports color commentator, or a FOX Sports broadcast booth. Where are the Andres Cantors of eSports? The Scott Zolaks? If you’ve got em, point ’em out.

I need crowds to go ballistic.

I’ve watched some League of Legends events, and most of them have been pretty exciting. I have no fucking idea what I’m looking at (Rahb’s our resident League guy, not me), but I find a way to be entertained. It seems like Riot has put a little bit of cash into the atmosphere of their events, including big ol’ checks, bright lights, and over-the-top intros. What’s lacking for me the most though is the crowds. I need crowd noise to get integrated into eSports broadcasts. Fuck it, pump that up 30 notches if you have to and make it seem louder. I want to feel like I’m on that team that just got the clutch game-winning kill, and I want to feel like I’m celebrating with them. Do they sell booze at eSports events? Because if not, maybe they should. The above video kinda sums up what I want to see from crowds.

I need trash talk.

I understand that these players are focused as all hell. Every single move is choreographed, practiced, and drilled down to a scientific formula so that there’s no doubt they’ll be able to execute when the pressure is on. But to be honest, team chatter and light trash talk is part of why I love competitive gaming so much. Pissing and moaning when you’re having a tough game, screaming into the mic to your teammates when you pull off a triple kill – that’s part of what makes multiplayer exciting for me.

And that’s about it. I feel like I’m not asking for too much. Maybe as eSports continues to develop, we’ll see emerging stars find a way to inject some more energy and charisma into their gameplay, and hey – if there’s already a team out there that is doing this – tell me who they are (on Twitter at @WickedGoodGames) so I can watch them!

Papa Dom

Co-founder, lead blogger, graphic designer, and manager of WGG's writing team - Dom has been writing about video games for over ten years. Dom's work has been featured on some of the world's biggest gaming news outlets - including Dexerto, GameInformer, and IGN.

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