Hey, just thought i’d say how great it is to see someone actually posting opinion pieces about esports. I thought it was a dying trend, and i have to confess that i almost stopped myself in recent months for various reasons.
Dealing specifically with your latest article, i’m surprised you didn’t mention the old Swedish Esports League (SEL). It had a similar concept to the one you were discussing, albeit based around LAN centers rather than areas. In fact, to my knowledge, most of the teams were from Stockholme anyway but you get the idea. Sadly it was run by a guy called G3X (infamous for killing the original NiP, so i’m told, as well as SoGamed). In the UK we also had something called IGUK which was very similar, and i even played for my local team once (we won!). I’m not entirely sure what happened to that, though. Esports here just isn’t taken very seriously and IGUK wasn’t long before Source wiped out most of what we did have.
The best working example so far is probably ESL’s IFNG. Granted, they only visit the same city once or twice a year and it isn’t strictly a home/away but more of a roadshow/tour. But that actually makes me wonder how realistic home/away is in esports, especially at the current time. Setting up a LAN event is already considerably costly, but doing it for just one team (or even a single player in SC2) seems somewhat misguided unless tickets were snapped up. I’m not saying that isn’t possible, but i point you to my post on your previous blog with regards to the lack of “home support” in an internet world.
However, i don’t want to say that it can’t work if done properly. I just think that, if it will ever happen at all, it’s quite some time away.
My main qualm, however, is with the idea that teams have to help each other out. Or, to phrase it more appropriately, you said that sports team have a necessity to stop their colleagues from going under in order to maintain the value of the league and of themselves. While that might ideally be true, in English football it is most definitely not the case. Several teams have gone into administration since the advent of the Premier League in 1992 while the likes of Man Utd (first team to become a PLC), Chelsea (aka “Chelski,” due to their Russian oligarch backing) and lately Man City (backed by an Abu Dabbi Sheik) have made huge profits. However, their may be a moral to the story which esports can follow, given the massive debts of Man Utd and Liverpool – two of the most successful teams in football’s history. Never the less, none of this seems to have devalued the league itself (at least monetarily) as overseas viewing figures have increased year on year, making the Premier League the most watched league in the world. So while it would be nice to think that sports team don’t want to tip the balance too far, in England at least it just isn’t the case. Oh, and don’t get me started on the policy of buying up good young players from the lesser teams, with no intent of playing them.
Before i end this rant (wall of text crits you for 15908, sorry) i realised that in a weird way the football part of this response actually supports your idea. The fact is, that despite all the amoral shenanigans that football teams get up to, most of them still have a loyal, local fan base. Granted, teams like Manchester United have more fans in Korea than they do in Manchester, for the majority of the 95 English league clubs their supporters are mostly local. The difference is, football teams began as local establishments and grew over 120~ years while esports teams are usually (but not always) based in a single nation and have only been around for, at most, 12 years.
Michael ‘Zechs’ Radford – www.sk-gaming.com