Fingers of fortune.

Author:Schley, Stewart
Position:SPORTS BIZ
 
FREE EXCERPT

THE HOTTEST NEW SPORTS CATEGORY PLACES A WHOLE NEW VALUE ON HAND-EYE COORDINATION. AND ENERGY DRINKS.

Congratulations, soccer parent. That's cool your kid bounced in a penalty shot from the corner last Saturday to seal the 2-1 win for the Angry Wildcats. Everybody was thrilled to see teammates slapping out high-fives with the coach on the sideline And kudos to you for remembering the orange slices at halftime.

But lemme ask you this: Is your young progeny good enough to expertly dispatch and detonate a menacing, wall-scaling, motorized RIP tire-bomb with such exacting timing that she can vanquish an enemy on the Overwatch battlefield after assuming the persona of Junkrat? You know: the one-legged warrior with the spikes on his back'

Yeah Thought so.

Looks like you can forget about raking in a percentage of the earnings by exploiting your kid's mastery of the newest, hottest sport on the planet: competitive video gaming.

Wait. Check that. We don't call it "video gaming" anymore. We call it "eSports." Or at least ESPN and its ilk do. The omnipresent TV sports network, along with Turner Broadcasting and WME/IMG (the new naming-rights holder for what's currently Sports Authority Stadium), are among the big-media players that have fully legitimized the odd but magnetizing spectator-sports category in which fast-fingered combatants, buzzed on energy drinks and dedicated to victory, battle rivals in on-screen games like League of Legends. Defense of the Ancients (Dota), Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty and others.

Turns out those long, irreversibly misspent hours in the basement that you thought were short-circuiting the brain functionality of your 14-year-old were actually the stuff of rigorous training sessions designed to produce world-class expertise in a lucrative profession eSports is big business. Dueling on PCs and game consoles connected to giant video screens, teams compete for serious rewards thanks to sponsors and TV networks that want in on the action. One recent example: The December 2016 League of Legend's World Championship tournament produced 370 million hours of viewing over TV networks and the internet. A crowd-sourced website. eSportsearnings.com, lists 41 teams that have earned more than Si million in prize money competing in eSports tournaments. Topping the list is the legendary San Francisco-based Evil Geniuses, the self-described "world's best...

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