Competitive gaming, the lens of the future

SPU students reflect on their experiences with gaming

Brandon Bee, Staff Reporter

Competitive gaming has grown more and more each year with the rise of popular video games such as Fortnite, League of Legends, CS:GO (Counter Strike Global Offensive), and many more games.

Someone holds a switch controller in their hands
The switch, Nintendo’s newest console, was released in 2017. A version of the controller is pictured here.
(Brandon Bee)

Seattle Pacific University Sophomore Vincent Chen recalls memories of watching his first competitive gaming tournaments during his sophomore year of high school.

“I stayed up all night with my cousin watching the League of Legends finals,” said Chen. In 2016, the final teams of the League of Legends worlds tournament were SK Telecom versus Samsung Galaxy, both coming from Korea.

In 2011, League of Legends, a 5v5 MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game, players take control of characters with different abilities in an attempt to destroy the opponent’s nexus, or fortress. The game revolutionized the esports scene with the launch of its first tournament called Worlds. Worlds is a tournament where the best League of Legends teams compete for the championship. The first Worlds championship had an estimated 1.6 million viewers watching. In 2019, that number grew all the way to 100 million.

Many games have followed League of Legends’ trend of success in recent years. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a first-person team-based shooter game, was popular in the competitive scene. Overwatch created their own league for competitive players. NBA 2K also launched the 2K league in 2017 to entice people who were into the online competitive aspect of 2K such as their pro-am and park modes. Earlier this year, Riot Games, the same company that released League of Legends released a new title called Valorant, which some say is a combination of Counter-Strike and Overwatch.

Junior Aaron Swearingen started playing video games when he was eight. The first game console that he had received was an Xbox 360, which he used to play Halo 2, a first-person shooter game (FPS). Swearingen has played other FPS games as well such as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege and Call of Duty.

Swearingen started to use Twitch, an online live streaming platform, back in 2015 to help friends grow and recently, he started to stream gaming himself.

“I started streaming in order to better learn the platform so I could help other streams set up their streams,” Swearingen said. “I realized the only way to truly know what I was talking about, was to get first hand experience. I still stream for that reason, to learn more and help others. I also just enjoy it as entertainment and community building.”

With the pandemic this year, many were forced to stay home and be in isolation. The video game industry has continued to thrive in this environment with most people quarantined in their houses. More and more people have started to watch streams of their favorite gamers on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.

“I personally find it more enjoyable now,” said Chen. “Maybe that’s due to the big names making its way to mainstream media.”

Some names that Chen enjoys watching are Beaulo and Shaiiko, who are Rainbow Six players, as well as Shroud, who is a former CS:GO competitive player turned streamer.

A computer monitor displaying a picture of a game called Valorent
Valorant, released in 2020, is a first person shooter game played on PC. It is one of many video games contributing to the continued rise of the industry.  (Brandon Bee)

Senior Harry Cavell, a member of the SPU Men’s basketball team, has played competitive video games in the past like Fifa, NBA 2K, Rocket League, and Fortnite. In the past, Cavell has watched professional Fortnite players in tournaments and on streaming platforms.

Cavell says that athletic sports are similar to competitive gaming.

“The skills that pro gamers have take time, practice, and natural abilities to develop-just like traditional sports,” said Cavell

The future of esports looks to be bright as it continues to grow in popularity. Some of the Overwatch league games and NBA 2K league games have been broadcast on channels like ESPN2.

“We already see SportsCenter and ESPN covering certain things and posting gaming highlights on social media,” said Cavell. “Whether the majority of esports coverage remains through streaming platforms (like Twitch) or becomes more attractive to television networks will be interesting to see moving into the future.”