In order to shed some light on the ins and outs of the discipline, we interviewed experienced experts of the e-sport section and unconditional fans of video games. This is an opportunity to explain the functioning of a sector which, thanks to its online practices, is surviving in this period of confinement, but is no less affected.
E-sport, or electronic sport, is video games played in a competitive manner. It has developed a lot over the last few years: with increasingly well-attended tournaments, clubs with budgets of several million euros… The most popular games are League of Legends (strategic arena battle game) and Counter-Strike (arena shooter). The discipline requires an engagement of the body via reflexes, dexterity, hand-eye coordination. It tends to say that it is a new form of sport. Many e-sportsmen are now coached by former top sportsmen such as Yannick Agnel, Olympic swimming champion, or the tennis player Julien Benneteau. There is a lot of common ground between traditional and electronic sports. But e-sport is not a substitute for physical exercise.
Is Canada a nation that counts on the e-sport planet?
Canada has some of the best clubs in the world. Some of their players are among the best on the planet, on Counter-Strike, or others on the game Fortnite, notably at Solary. The discipline is increasingly taken seriously by the Canadian authorities, with a desire to supervise the practice to maximise performance.
The video game has long been demonised, with a negative image and deep-rooted preconceptions. Afterwards, among the great nations, we find South Korea, China, where League of Legends competitions are among the most followed of all sports.
What impact does containment have on e-sports competitions?
E-sports are no exception and suffer from the current situation. As in the rest of the sports world, many competitions have been cancelled or postponed. In fact, we have to get away from the cliché of the gamer who plays in his room. Competitions are held in venues that can accommodate thousands of fans and where real shows can be put on. Of course, one of the particularities of the discipline is that it can be pursued online. Some championships of the biggest games have already been resumed remotely. But e-sport is global and it is therefore difficult to organise competitions solely online. Especially since the conditions of the game are modified: latency is affected, the environment is no longer conducive to performance… In general, the online mode is reserved for training. But it’s still a good thing to be able to continue at this time.
Working on mental and team cohesion
If Esport is not a sport in the physical sense, it can be qualified as a cerebral sport in the same way as chess, and calls upon many abilities. As most competitive games are played by several players, team spirit and the ability to communicate in French and English are essential. Indeed, although most of the games are available in English, the members of the e-sports teams come from all over the world. Moreover, the terms related to the games are often in English, to exchange strategies and advice.
Depending on the game, games can last from five minutes to more than an hour, requiring maximum concentration at all times, as well as good reflexes and a capacity for rapid analysis to react to opposing attacks. Finally, if you want to perform well in a competitive video game, training is necessary in order to know every strategy and to be able to prevent the slightest move from your opponent.
E-sport as a show
E-sport is not only about playing video games. For some years now, the biggest events have been taking place in concert halls or stadiums, in front of thousands of spectators and millions of television viewers. Each competition benefits from a communication campaign that highlights the players and coaches through interviews.
If e-sport has only recently taken on this dimension, it is thanks to two players in the field. The first is Twitch, a streaming website created in 2011 and bought by the giant Amazon in 2014. It allows the competitions that take place every day to be broadcast around the world, reaching a large audience. The second is Riot Games, the publisher of the game League of Legends, one of the most played titles in the world. In 2013, Riot Games introduced a regular league, similar to the NBA basketball league in the US. Riot offers its fans the chance to watch the best teams compete on a weekly basis, with players receiving a salary.
The advent of streaming platforms such as Twitch or Dailymotion has given rise to numerous Web TVs, which, with their commentators and hosts, allow loyal viewers to follow each competition of their favourite games. Here again, Canada is well represented, with players of all sizes.