Naturally, being stuck at home with little to no work or school, one would want to find some entertainment. As the COVID-19-induced quarantine rages on, many are finding that entertainment within live-streaming services, particularly esports.
Esports are professional competitive matches and leagues for video games. In recent years, they have become progressively more mainstream, with many now comparing the players and sports themselves to real-life professionals. The most popular esports games are League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite and Overwatch.
“I have watched the Overwatch League for almost two years now, and I really enjoy it,” sophomore Jayden Adjodha said. “My favorite team is the San Francisco Shock.”
Twitch is the world’s largest live-streaming platform, with over 5 million active streamers there. The majority of esports leagues are broadcasted on Twitch, with the exception of the Overwatch League (OWL), which recently moved over to the YouTube Gaming live-streaming platform. Here, one can find millions of different streamers performing a variety of activities, like gameplay, reality shows, creating art and reaction content.
Since the global outbreak of COVID-19, Twitch viewership has drastically increased, even breaking some viewership records, with both the average number of concurrent viewers and the average number of concurrent live channels increasing by about 70% since February 2020. Additionally, the total number of hours of content watched increased by about 24% from February to March, according to TwitchTracker.com.
One of the biggest esports leagues right now, the Overwatch League, intended to bring live events to each of its 20 teams’ home cities. Instead, it moved all matches to an online format, splitting the teams into three separate divisions: Atlantic, Pacific and China. OWL organizers chose the divisions so that the teams will physically be on the coast in an effort to reduce latency previously unexperienced during the live events.
“It’s interesting to see a game I play being played at a competitive, professional level. It’s enjoyable because, like all sports, it involves strategy, planning and skill,” Adjodha said.
With the closure of global sporting leagues, like the MLB, NBA, NHL and NCAA, many are turning to esports to quench their thirst for competition and team spirit. Now that the world’s biggest leagues have been completely optimized for online audiences, fans have a variety of compelling online competitive sports to choose from.