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The Almighty Buck Games

The ESports Athletes Who Tried To Switch Games 146

Posted by timothy
from the obscure-sports-quarterly dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Michael Jordan's infamous attempt at baseball aside, athletes have sometimes switched sports successfully in the past — and perhaps a sure a sign as any that eSports are coming of age is pro gaming's top players are now trying to do the same. A new feature looks at the top players who've tried to make the jump from one first person shooter to another, or even between genre — from StarCraft 2 to League of Legends — and finds that while some have thrived, others has shown that each title can require a very particular, and sadly non-transferrable, skill set."
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The ESports Athletes Who Tried To Switch Games

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  • Most of those jumps are relatively small. Switching between HoN, LoL, and DOTA isnt really similar to switching from basketball to baseball. Many of the skills (kiting, lasthitting, etc) are very similar in the games; a lot of the barrier is just knowledge (what champions do what, particular mechanics differences.

    Ditto BroodWar to SC2. Its been pretty widely known that BW players moving to SC2 tend to be very good at SC2 because of the similarity of the games, and the reputed higher difficulty of BW.

  • because they're constantly subjected to rule changes. Every week, month, year, decade, there is the potential for having a very upsetting change in the fundamentals of the game. If eSports players can't keep up with these, then they fall out of brackets. That's why the people who were the top of the top 3 years ago aren't. Maybe that's what'll prevent eSports from ever gaining the same prominence as regular sports--an athlete can expect to have a 10-25 year career. A pro-gamer would be lucky to see a 1
    • by platypussrex (594064) on Friday August 08, 2014 @04:23PM (#47633053)
      Another difference is that 50,000,000 people won't pay to watch eSports on any given weekend but they will for football and basketball etc.
      • by Afty0r (263037) on Friday August 08, 2014 @04:41PM (#47633209) Homepage

        Keep counting...

        A significant portion of my friends from my late teens are now employed not in *making* games, but in casting, organising, events management, marketing and more for eSports events... The growth is beyond phenomenal.

        I believe a League of Legends event recently sold out the Staples Centre faster than any other event in history...

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2014 @05:17PM (#47633569)

        The current year major tourney viewer count is 32 million for League of Legends, 20 million for Dota 2. To put that in perspective, only 100 million watch the Superbowl. Yes, League of Legends is 1/3 as popular as the Superbowl. Strange but that is the way the future is heading. Should we include twitch then it may just be that 50 million people pay to watch other people play video games any given week.

        • by tepples (727027)

          Should we include twitch

          Not if they continue to mute archived game streams for having game music in them.

      • by alvinrod (889928) on Friday August 08, 2014 @06:31PM (#47634155)
        To be fair, most of the games being played now are at most five years old, whereas many traditional sports have been around for the better part of half a century or more. In another 100 years, these games (or whatever comes after them) may have just as much of a viewer base.

        Interestingly enough, in South Korea they're about as big as traditional sports. Back in the day they even had TV channels that would broadcast professional Starcraft matches. I expect that in time, the rest of the world will grow to be more like Korea in that respect and that eventually there will be an ESPN channel dedicated to e-sports.
        • by crossmr (957846)

          No, they really aren't. The media liked to make it out like they were, and they were certainly bigger here than anywhere else, but they're not remotely as big as traditional sports.

          They still have a video game channel, but it broadcasts all kinds of things, it's also in the nosebleeds and nowhere near comparable to regular TV channels. In the same area they also have a channel for Baduk (Go), and Janggi (Korean chess) and other cerebral activities, one of which was called "BrainTV". Interestingly the media

    • Can you explain the "fundamental" changes that happen in these games?

      I know that characters and weapons get nerfed as part of general balance tweaks. I wouldn't call those fundamental changes.

    • Have you ever tried to keep up with constitutes a "catch" in the NFL? Rules change all the time in pro sports, and players need to keep up. There may be good reasons why pro videogame players are locked to a particular game, but I doubt rule changes have much to do with it.

      More likely, in my opinion, is that pro games excel at the game they first learned deeply enough to play "intuitively", and trying to switch is like trying to switch to another language. Do-able, sure, but requiring a long period of im

      • With very few exceptions, I don't think refinements to the details like exactly what counts as a catch have changed how the game is played much. A receiver tries to catch a ball today the same way they tried to catch it in 1970. The skill hasn't changed. It's possible that an attempted catch might be ruled a fumble today and incomplete 40 years ago, but that changes what the officials do. The player will still do the exact same thing - reach out and try to get control of the ball.

        Of course there are exc

        • I'm not so sure I agree. When you practice out routes and sideline routes your whole career counting on push-out rules and then suddenly being pushed out means you're out of bounds for the catch, that's massive. An out route can't go as far out, and a sideline route has to be further in from the sideline. It's probably a bigger change than going from NCAA football with the one-foot rule to the NFL with the two-foot rule.

          The reply rules made what counts as a catch a lot more strict, but a good solid catch wi

    • Just this. Modern sporting teams rely on stars to draw in viewers, and create a relationship between the fans and the players, not just the fans and the brand. People who don't go to see the Lakers may go to see "superman" in action, and this is same with eSports. Without a standout career, it's harder to create emotional investment in the team, and it's much harder to cheer for a player that has played for a year, and will be gone in 2. It's one of the reasons why people in the west find Asian teams le
      • by vux984 (928602)

        All that plus the fact that the average video game champion is about as physically imposing as Jeremy Freedman

        http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki... [wikia.com]

        Ok... I admit I'm speculating. I don't really follow "e sports" at all, but that's what a lot of the magic the gathering top players looked like back when I played.

        They were not really societies take on "men who men wanted to be and women wanted to be with"

        That's not to say that esports players won't attract its own audience and groupies, any subculture has that, but

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        The allure of eSports (gah) is that you too, with a little practice, could be the next great star. It's a fantasy for most people without 10,000 hours to play Starcraft at a competitive level, but it's the same fantasy that has 5-10,000 people attending the WSOP every year to become the next Moneymaker.

        • The allure of eSports (gah) is that you too, with a little practice, could be the next great star. It's a fantasy for most people without 10,000 hours to play Starcraft at a competitive level, but it's the same fantasy that has 5-10,000 people attending the WSOP every year to become the next Moneymaker.

          Combine this with the prize structure for most events and you add the feeling that with a little skill you too could win the lottery. Honestly, one of the main strengths of eSports over conventional sports is the low barrier of entry due to the sport not being closed off by large franchises not looking to split an audience.

    • by Onuma (947856)
      To expound on rule changes, configuration changes, etc.:

      There may be physiological reasons for eAthletes (yeah I know that's lame, but I didn't make that up) to not be able to hang at top levels once they start to age. Slashdot shared an article in regard to that just a few months back. It's not 100% concrete, but I think we can safely make the case that the average gamer peaks in performance some time in their mid-twenties.

      http://games.slashdot.org/stor... [slashdot.org]
    • That and the fact that a video game's publisher has the power to declare that a particular game shall no longer be played competitively at all. It can turn off the game's official matchmaking servers and assert copyright against providers of alternate servers (as in the bnetd case), or it can assert copyright against a league's streams of the game. Physical sports don't have nearly the same copyright danger
      • by lgw (121541)

        Think of the NFL as "football's publisher" and you have the same situation - monopoly control over professional gameplay hasn't been a problem thus far. The difference, think, is that congresscritters care about the NFL, and won't let it go off the rails too far (and the government has poked its nose in from time to time). It will be interesting to see how that plays out with eSports - whether something like FIFA will come to be.

        • Think of the NFL as "football's publisher"

          That'd be like saying MLB is baseball's publisher [slashdot.org]. The NFL can ban people from playing in the NFL. This ban would not extend to other leagues playing substantially the same sport, such as the AFL [wikipedia.org] (which merged with the NFL), the WFL [wikipedia.org], the USFL [wikipedia.org], the XFL [wikipedia.org], and the new USFL [wikipedia.org], not to mention the massive derivative work that is indoor minor league football [wikipedia.org]. The owner of copyright in a video game, by contrast, can veto leagues entirely.

          • by lgw (121541)

            The thing is, only the NFL makes money.

            But by that analogy, there are any number of MOBAs, for example, so there are several choices of publishers. Sure, for a given exact rules set, there's only one, but again that's the same as pro sports.

            • But by that analogy, there are any number of MOBAs, for example, so there are several choices of publishers. Sure, for a given exact rules set, there's only one, but again that's the same as pro sports.

              The difference is that even if other leagues were to use exactly the same rules as the NFL, the NFL wouldn't have grounds to sue. For example, the new USFL plans to use exactly the same rules as the NFL with the intent that skills in the USFL will transfer directly to the NFL. In video games, on the other hand, if your game has exactly the same rules as an incumbent's game, you can get sued and lose. Tetris v. Xio [slashdot.org]. The only time I've heard about that happening in a ball sport is when the AFL asserted its

    • by vux984 (928602)

      because they're constantly subjected to rule changes

      Nascar, F1, and other automotive leagues adjust the rules regularly as well... they seem to be popular.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      because they're constantly subjected to rule changes. Every week, month, year, decade, there is the potential for having a very upsetting change in the fundamentals of the game. If eSports players can't keep up with these, then they fall out of brackets. That's why the people who were the top of the top 3 years ago aren't. Maybe that's what'll prevent eSports from ever gaining the same prominence as regular sports--an athlete can expect to have a 10-25 year career. A pro-gamer would be lucky to see a 10 yea

  • and completely useless in real life. Video games are a waste of time and energy like no other.

    • by ramper (1206148)

      but throwing a ball is use full like all other? if useless means you can earn a living doing it, is it still useless?

      • by erice (13380)

        but throwing a ball is use full like all other? if useless means you can earn a living doing it, is it still useless?

        Even if you don't manage to make money at it, throwing a real ball around is a good way to stay in shape which is important for overall health. Throwing a virtual ball? Not so much and you are even more likely to need a day job which also will not give you the exercise that you need to stay healthy.

        • by Talderas (1212466)

          This is why I've taken up golf. I don't need to be in spectacular shape to enjoy it and be decent and have fun. Swing the clubs, carry your bag, and walk the course. It's a lot of exercise, fresh air, and sunlight.

    • by JStyle (833234)

      How is it different than baseball? hitting a fast moving ball with a bat is useless in real life. Both are forms of entertainment or recreation, one being physical, the other being mental. I'm sure there are plenty skills from video games that can be used in real life (information processing, team work, decision making, etc).

      I understand you never said sports weren't a waste of time and energy, it just begs the question...

      • Unlike with video games, nobody owns the exclusive right to play baseball. This means nobody has the power to force someone to switch sports. Even if a player for a Major League Baseball club is "banned from baseball", that ban is unenforceable in leagues other than Major League Baseball. These leagues existed and continue to exist [wikipedia.org].
        • Mind to answer quoted post? You failed to do that.

          • You asked how video games were different from baseball. I gave one way in which video games were different from baseball: video game exhibitions have more potential copyright problems.

            Now after rereading, it appears you were asking about how video games were different from baseball specifically in the sense of whether skills would transfer to activities that aren't "games" (competitions organized for spectators' entertainment). In this case, skills learned by swinging a golf club or a baseball bat transf [orain.org]

    • Funny you know my mom used to say the same thing. Every time I played video games she'd tell me how useless they were and what a waste of time.

      Back when I was in high school, I had a buddy who wanted to play FIFA all the time. So we'd play online (this was back in the day when you'd have one modem call the other modem). I wasn't really interested in soccer, but I was competitive, and wanted to beat him at the game.

      Fast forward 10 years. I ended up getting transferred to Europe. After work we went to a

    • by imidan (559239)

      and completely useless in real life. Video games are a waste of time and energy like no other.

      The first guy mentioned in the article, Lee Jae-dong, may disagree with you. He's made a little over half a million dollars playing StarCraft. There's a guy from China who's made more than a million just this year playing Dota 2. I can't quite call that useless.

      • by mark_reh (2015546)

        Yeah, and someone wins the lottery, too. That doesn't make it a good investment.

        The number of people who make any money at video games vs the number who waste the biggest portion of their lives when they could be learning things is about as miniscule as your chances of winning the lottery. I stand by my assertion that it is a waste of time.

        • by imidan (559239)

          The vast majority of people who play physical sports also don't make any money from them. I guess that's a waste of time, also? Are there hobbies, other than education, that aren't a waste of time?

          • by mark_reh (2015546)

            Playing real sports is a social and physical activity. Both can be beneficial.

            Sitting on a couch swilling red bull, munching on funyuns, twitching your thumbs, and tea-bagging your virtual victims hardly compares.

            • by cfalcon (779563)

              Playing real sports with friends can harm you for life as well, so be sure to put that into your equation. After all, presumably the casual football players are fucking unhealthy idiots in your world too, as after all, the casual videogamers are "swilling red buff, munching on funyuns".

            • by imidan (559239)

              Playing real sports is a social and physical activity. Both can be beneficial.

              Okay, sports are physical, and video games almost never are. But they can certainly be social. Not all gamers are as you describe; some actually physically congregate and socialize.

              It seems like reading books could be every bit as big a time waster as playing video games, when a person shuts himself off from the world and just reads books all the time. Surely, there's some balance to be found in life between doing things that y

  • Athletes? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by QuietLagoon (813062) on Friday August 08, 2014 @04:33PM (#47633135)
    While I find the moniker "ESports" somewhat humorous, calling gamers "athletes" borders on the ridiculous.
    • by ramper (1206148)

      i fail to see the use of the word "athlete" regarding the players? its used to refer to sports athletes that have changed sports in the past as a comparison.

      • by div_2n (525075)

        Pretty much all of the games require at least two of the following:

        1. The kind of hand to eye coordination you'd need for ping pong
        2. The mental concentration golfers must exert for virtually every shot (often for the entire length of a game)
        3. The muscle memory necessary of any sport

        That the players don't generally utilize their cardiovascular system doesn't mean it's less of a sport. I mean after all -- you don't exert much cardiovascular wise in golf or bowling.

    • I'll probably get downmodded but you spelt ePenis wrong ... :-)

    • I don't think it's so clear cut. While it's clearly not at the same level of physicality as sports like American football or rugby, competitive videogaming is closer to these than it is to, say, chess. This isn't you playing games on a lazy weekend afternoon; if you've seen videos of professional gamers competing, it is clear that being good requires a high degree of speed, precision, stamina, and physical coordination. I think this merits being placed in the same category of sport as, e.g. auto racing,
      • Dear slashdot, thanks for escaping the "#" in the link in my above post to a "%23". How helpful of you to break my intra-page link. I'm curious if this just applies to "#"-signs at the beginning of the URI, or if you can't link to parts of a page at all. Here is a test of linking to a sub-page on Wikipedia:

        Fragment Identifier [wikipedia.org]

  • by buckfeta2014 (3700011) on Friday August 08, 2014 @04:37PM (#47633161)
    It's competitive gaming, and nothing more. Gaming is not a sport.
    • Semantics.
      You can call it however you want, for all I care. The term was coined not because it's similar from a venue or ruleset perspective, but because:
      1. They are played;
      2. They're played competitively;
      3. They had to be compared with something that's known to a large amount of people.

      Book versus E-book. Magazine versus eZine. Mail versus e-mail.
      eSports are more closely related to sports than extreme ironing, but who am I to judge?

      Disclaimer: I don't practice (because I suck) or watch eSports (because I f

    • by TeknoHog (164938)

      When I was a wee lad, we called it "playing a game". And we liked it!

      Later, some of us (a) grew up and quit playing, while others (b) keep on playing, not "a game", but their entire lives, the society and the world. I guess option (c) is gaming, where you can't decide whether to grow up, so you maintain a grown-up facade while consuming game entertainment marketed for grownups.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      The problem is that most attempts to define sports would exclude commonly accepted sports. For example curling, equestrian dressage and air pistol shooting are all Olympic sports. There's certainly a very high degree of skill involved, but very low physical requirements when it comes to strength, dexterity, endurance and so on. Certainly you can say there's a lot of fine motor skills to hit a tiny target precisely and consistently, but then you're arguing for eSports not against it. Outside the Olympics, wh

  • You lost me at... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 08, 2014 @04:40PM (#47633191)

    "Athletes".

    Stop trying to pretend gamers are something that they're not. If gamers are athletes, then watching movies is like personal non-competitive physical exercise.

    • by JThundley (631154)

      Most games aren't that intensive, but have you seen Starcraft players?! People truly get *injuries* from their keyboards and mice from playing this physically and mentally demanding game.

    • You burn calories via your fingers and your brain. Definitely an intensive activity.

    • Not hating on pro gamers, I think it is great that there's a market for this and personally I enjoy watching pro gaming content. But they aren't athletes. It is a word with a pretty specific definition. It means, well, someone who is athletic. You don't have to be professional to be an athlete, and just doing something competitive doesn't make you an athlete.

      They are gamers. Professional gamers to be sure, but gamers. That isn't a positive or negative trait, it is just a descriptor. They play games, hence a

  • by cant_get_a_good_nick (172131) on Friday August 08, 2014 @04:51PM (#47633301)

    Please watch the great 30 For 30 episode Jordan Rides the Bus [youtube.com] . Even I, as a Chicagoan that grew up in the Jordan era, was surprised at how good Jordan got at baseball. It seems at the end he had quite a few game winning hits. It seemed there was no guarantee he'd be called up to the majors in 95, but any question of that was nixed with the baseball strike that year. I don't think a lot of people knew how much he improved. Even his main man Spike Lee made jokes about Jordan - with a commercial about his struggles with "the wicked double-A curveball..."

    Hell, watch most 30 For 30. The 16th Man [go.com] is as good as most movies out now.

    • by Kyont (145761)

      No kidding. He might not have been the Michael Jordan of baseball, but even the worst AA players are far better than 99% of all players out there at any level. Statistical odds are, if you grew up in the USA, the all-time best player from your high school team was not even good enough to play single-A ball. Making AAA or the Majors requires that same level of skill and dedication, plus near-superhuman genetic blessings allowing you to avoid major injuries and recover from minor ones before you get cut.

  • Knowing the game mechanics notwithstanding, it still takes muscle memory for the mouse movements and keystrokes. I was readings something about baseball pitchers and how it takes some ludicrous amount of hours of the same motion for the muscle memory to set in. I can't imagine any other "sport" that uses a physical interface would be any different.

  • athlete [ath-leet]
    Noun

    A person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.

    Origin:
    1520–30; Latin thlta Greek thlts, equivalent to thl- (variant stem of thleîn to contend for a prize, derivative of âthlos a contest) + -ts suffix of agency

    I don't care what your APM is in Starcraft 2, you are NOT an athlete. You have a top 1% skill in SOMETHING, but it is NOT "athleti

    • by Cabriel (803429)

      Until it starts being used in another way in which case the dictionary will catalogue that usage right alongside that one.

      Dictionaries don't define words; they only tell us how people use them.

  • Mates, I am happy with the term pro, but in the same way a chess player is not an athlete, a fat ball of lard handling a fucking joystick is NOT a fucking athlete

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