In the past years, Major League Gaming (MLG) has been increasing in popularity. Gaming is the playing of competitive games that take place in video games. It has grown so big that the question of whether it is to be considered a sport has been asked on several occasions. Major League Gaming is considered a sport. MLG is played in a competitive scene that forces the player(s) to use teamwork and strategies. The mental exertion of MLG athletes is greater than that of athletes from other sports. MLG is played in a competitive scene just like other sports.
To make an activity a sport, it must involve an individual or team competing against another. MLG athletes have to train and practice to perform just as well, if not better, than the other team. Like other athletes, MLG players have to study their opponents in order to get the leading edge of the competition. A text dating back to fifth century BC can be attributed to modern day competitions. The Art of War, by Sun Tzu, contains perfect rules on how to win. He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces. He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks. He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared. (51-52) Although not readily applicable on the world of sports, The Art of War pertains indirectly to competition. Just like in many sports, timing is key. If a team wants to advance in a certain scenario, it either has to push into the area blind about what lies in store, or the team waits and gathers intelligence about where the enemy is lurking.
When a player finds himself against an opponent stronger than he, he must find a way to expose his opponent’s weakness. Most video games are built in way that encourages teams to engage enemies in a situation where they have the advantage. Although MLG may not seem like it is popular to watch, the numbers don’t lie. According to Forbes, the MLG industry “projects a 56. 25% increase in two years”(Groves). The industry is now the biggest growth sport in America. In July of 2014, the League of Legends championship tournament was held in a Seattle basketball arena, which held 11,000 people.
This event was also broadcasted by ESPN throughout the world. The largest contribution of the tournament was the prize pool of $10. 9 million dollars to the winning team. This prize pool tops the United Stated Professional Golfers Association by $900,000. All of this attention leads to a more competitive scene. The more people that watch the games, the more the athletes want to win (BBC). Winning is not always reliant on the audiences. There are competitions taking place within friend’s households that can be just as competitive as the professional events.
Although the competition may be the same between a household and a stadium, the reward of winning in front of thousands of people is much greater than bragging rights between friends. This competition shows that even though a sport may not be well known, it can still be competitive enough to draw a crowd. As the community grows, more athletes want in on the fun. When there are more players than there are spots, the accomplishment of obtaining the spot grows immensely. Teamwork plays a big part in competitive gaming, especially in “the big leagues”.
Playing in “the big leagues” isn’t always fun and games. To be a MLG player, the team must always be in constant communication. In order for the team to have chemistry, the players must practice almost every day. There is a scholarship at Robert Morris University in Illinois that pertains to gamers. The scholarship is intended to produce gamers that can play at the professional level. Robert Morris is one of the only colleges to have a varsity level gaming team. The players may not be seen much around the campus outside of class. This is because of the difficult practice schedule.
The team at Robert Morris University practices more than the average football or lacrosse team. The team spends about four to eight hours a day on the computer practicing. “One guy who picked up the game about four years ago says he’s clocked more than 4,700 hours of game time — a commitment comparable to nearly 200 days of his life”(Ravitz). Although the amount of time spent by elite level gamers, like the athletes at Robert Morris University, could have been spent elsewhere, they decided to be a part of this unique lifestyle. All of the athletes had their chance to back out, but they chose to spend countless hours on competing.
Although it may seem pointless to spend hours upon hours at a computer, all of that time is spent working with their teammates to build new strategies and develop teamwork. Just like other sports, MLG players use strategies to combat their opponents. While watching almost any game may not seem like any sort of strategies are being used. Many times the strategies that the players use look like a bunch of non-sense. All of random movements show all of the time and work they put into practice building something that no team has seen before. The movements are really the strategic positioning for a certain strategy.
Since the other teams haven’t seen the streategy before, it gives the team with a strategy an advantage. Sometimes, the strategies don’t involve anything within the game. Before 2013, players would spend countless hours in airports traveling through customs to another country. This would make having home advantage a lot more rewarding. The more time that teams spend traveling, the more likely they are to be less alert during the events. During 2013, the government officially recognized “professional video gamers” as athletes by awarding them athletic visas (P-1).
Although the players finally obtained them, it took them six month of lobbying (Lejacq). As the visas were given, the strategy of being the home team in events became less rewarding as the teams would spend less time traveling, giving them more alertness. The amount of focus that is required with MLG athletes pertains to a much different aspect of the body. With football or hockey, the focus pertains to thinking about what the body is going to do next. As with MLG, focus is more directed at when strategy is going to be used and how a character should be moved in a special way.
The amount of focus between non-gamers and gamers can be seen through everyday experiences. As a player enters the “real world”, his senses are heightened enough so that he can be a better multitasker. Some players are even good enough to perform 300 actions per minute (APM), while the average user would have around fifty (BBC). Having a high APM means that the mental focus is high enough so that the user can perform several mouse clicks and keyboard hits simultaneously, completing the task faster. If a team is down, they may start feeling pressured to come back.
As more and more pressure is applied the players may start to panic. Panic can lead to the a fogged mind that can hamper the ability to focus at such a high level According to a YouTuber that plays at the elite level, mental focus helps the players “constantly have a positive attitude even under stress and pressure”(interview). As the game spirals out of control, the players focus on what the ultimate object is, to win. Focus isn’t just how hard a player thinks, it also pertains to reaction time. Reaction time depends on how hard the player focuses.
Many times, in game, it determines whether the player lives or dies. If the opponents have a one millisecond faster reaction, that gives them the advantage. Achieving faster reaction times doesn’t just help within the video game, it can help in “real world” scenarios. Such scenarios can include multitasking, driving, reading small print, keeping track of friends in a crowd, and navigating around town. Reaction time helps with the sensitivity of the area around the player, or around the character in the game. This sensitivity can help while driving to give a “sixth-sense” to help know what is around him.
According to a study at the University of Rochester, “Video game players develop a heightened sensitivity to what is going on around them “(Rochester. edu). As MLG becomes more prevalent around the world, reaction times of the players become quicker. As a result, the competition is a faster pace and pushes the athletes to stay on or ahead of everyone else. Although there is a difference in the type of reaction time between tennis players MLG athletes, they both use it as an advantage in the sport. In MLG, the players use reaction time to stay ahead of the opponent and counter their moves as quickly as possible.
While in tennis, the players are using more of a hand-eye coordination to return a 120 mph serve. As the world of video gaming draws more attention to itself, it sparks a passion for competition. This competition turns MLG into a sport throughout the world. With multiple countries having multiple teams, the matter of it becoming a sport becomes more prevalent. Although it is still barely recognized, the abilities between a football athlete and a MLG athlete are surprisingly similar. MLG is considered to be played in a competitive scene. It forces the athletes to use their advanced knowledge of the game to out play their opponent.