ESPN, or the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network, is now starting to branch out from conventional sports and has started covering eSports. eSports have been on the rise over the past few years but has never been covered by any major networks such as ESPN. With the fan base expanding and tournament prizes getting larger ESPN has decided to jump on board and finally begin to cover the eSports scene with ESPN eSports, even if it is just online and a small portion of it to begin with.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) January 14, 2016
On the ESPN eSports website they have three games that they seem focused on covering for now: League of Legends, Dota 2 (Defense of the Ancients), and Hearthstone. Those games all carry a large following and have large tournaments. The last Dota 2 tournament, The International 2015, had over $18 million in prize money up for grabs for the winners and also claimed the record for the largest prize pool in eSports history. League of Legends, Smite, and Call of Duty all have tournaments that will let you win $1 million or more as well.
Though ESPN’s coverage is limited now, it is a good stepping stone to expand on. It appears as if they already have plans on covering additional titles in the future. When looking at their eSports calendar you can see they have StarCraft II, Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Super Smash Bros., Halo, Call of Duty, and more. It seems that they will be trying to cover a lot of the major titles that draw in large crowds before going after other games that still have professional tournaments but carry a much smaller following.
With ESPN being a major network it will be interesting to see if eSports pick up more steam by being covered by such a big name. ESPN has dabbled in eSports a bit in the past. They did stream Dota 2’s tournament on ESPN3 and last April they made history by airing a Heroes of the Storm collegiate tournament live on ESPN2, the first time ever that eSports was aired on television. Even before all of that, SportsCenter worked with MLG to produce top 10 plays for Halo 3.
I for one, even though I really enjoy competitive gaming, don’t follow eSports all that closely because the coverage just isn’t there for it. It will be interesting to see how much ESPN will start to cover and if more people will get into following different titles in eSports much more closely with a central place to find information about all of it.
If you follow esports currently are you excited to see ESPN getting on board with more coverage? If you don’t, do you think you might if you could check ESPN to catch up on what has been going on with highlights and breakdowns of tournaments? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook, Google+, or Twitter.