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Tech and Gaming

TechWhat is eSports? A beginner’s guide

Words by Nathan Irvine

You've probably heard a little bit about it, but playing video games professionally is a big deal right now. Here's a layman's guide to how eSports works.

It may have passed you by, but eSports (electronic sports) is big business right now. It just so happens to be the fastest growing sport on the planet. Thousands of athletes currently compete for honours across a wide selection of games you’ve probably never heard of.

So here’s a small guide to understanding just what eSports are all about…

What is eSports?


Supplied A sold-out arena for an eSports tournament

What is it?

eSports refers to any video game that can be played competitively against others. Either sat side-by-side, over the internet or LAN (Local Area Network).

The games

Although any video game can be considered for eSports there are well established ones. Games such as Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends have well established tournaments attached.

Cyber athletes

It’s often something that’s sniggered at, especially by those out of the loop, but the top players have to train to be tournament-ready.

Players often practice for around 12 hours per day. The training camps are no joke either. They come packing catering options, physios, psychologists, fitness coaches and more. This is the real deal, people.


Dota 2’s The International tournaments often sell-out huge sporting venues, with millions more watching the stream from home.

It’s a bit like the football World Cup and sees the best of the best going head-to-head for a share of the prize pot – a whopping $46m in 2018.


What is eSports?


Adidas Norway's North have kits made by Adidas


To compete in these tournaments, the players must be part of a team. Fnatic and Evil Geniuses are two of the biggest on the eSports scene. Just like any other sports team they have kits, fans and, importantly, a salary.

Celebrity investors

Further galvanising its legitimacy in the world of sport, eSports’ estimated worth of over $1bn comes from a number of famous folk. Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal owns shares in a team. So too does Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher, DJ Steve Aoki and RnB star Drake.

While lots of individuals pump money in, entire organisations are quickly investing, too. The Philadelphia 76ers bought Team Dignitas and football sides such as PSG, Manchester United, Wolfsburg and many more all have eSports connections.


This is just internet-speak for commentator. You might not recognise them, but you can be sure millions of people do. Their colourful language and use of gaming terminology is what keeps viewers stuck to their screens.


Inclusion in the Summer Olympic Games is inevitable. It has been rejected for Tokyo 2020 as the International Olympic Committee claim “it promotes violence”, which is ironic considering boxing has been an olympic sport for decades.

But Paris 2024 seems to be the target for both the IOC and eSports organisers. If darts can get in, then surely eSports will as well.


Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) have found a way into eSports. Some players have been caught taking Adderall, which keeps you focussed for longer periods of time.

In response, ESL, one of the governing bodies, has imposed strict testing of athletes. It won’t be long before we have to update this list with an eSports star then.

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