1UPdate: Are esports the sports of the future?

Professional esports staffer Norris Howard joins CultureShift to talk about some of the industry’s biggest tournaments and how they’ve grown.

Norris Howard of Immortals at the WDET studios.

Esports (short for electronic sports) have a long history going all the way back to the ’70s, but today are huge business with million of dollars in investments made in teams, leagues and even some major media deals with companies like Disney to put major esports tournaments on TV.

Similar to content available on Twitch, they’re a way of enjoying video games performed at a high level without having to dedicate hours and hours of practice to get there yourself.

Norris Howard is the Community Manager for the professional esports organization Immortals. He joined CultureShift’s newest gaming segment, 1UPdate to talk about esports and how it has evolved.

“It is much larger than people think it is,” Howard says of esports.

“It is not just the young people playing on stage for a huge, exorbitant amount of money. But there’s trainers, there’s coaching staff, there’s professional staff like myself, there’s the high school scene, the college esports scene, there’s an entire world that esports circulates around.”

He says with organizations like Immortals, opportunities for young people go beyond just playing games into internships and jobs in sales, marketing and social media.

Esports started gaining popularity as streaming and high-speed internet became more readily available in households. One tournament, the Evolution Championship Series, has been doing competitions for as long as 20 years.

“EVO was one of the largest and one of the first that really started at the beginning of the streaming advent at the beginning of the 2010s.”

The latest EVO Fighting Game tournament took place earlier this month at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Competitors took the stage in nine different games for the world-famous double elimination tournament with over $90,000 in prize money up for grabs. Epic moments are made like this moment in the Street Fighter V grand finals between IDOM and Kawano.


Another recent tournament was the Call of Duty League Championships held at Los Angeles’ Galen Center with over $2 million in prize money on the line. In the end, the underdog team of the LA Thieves, owned by the Dan Gilbert-backed 100 Thieves, took the day and the top prize of $1.2 million. Check out the final play of the CDL Grand Finals that led to the LA Thieves’ victory.


So are esports the sports of the future? That very much remains to be seen, but the community around esports is very real and very passionate. Consider checking out a tournament for yourself, then you can be the judge.

Listen: Professional esports staffer talks latest tournaments and growth in the industry.


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