Despite its growing popularity, few people I ask are familiar with the term “e-sports” and the community that surrounds it. Talk of “professional gaming” sounds like nonsense to many, and is brushed aside without a second thought.
However, when the Korean pro-gamer Baek Dong Jun, better known by his in-game ID “Dear” took home $40,000 at the recent 2013 StarCraft II World Championship Series in Toronto, I’m sure he felt quite the opposite.
Competing for $160,000 canadian pharmacy viagra in prize money, 16 players from around the world met up in Toronto on Oct. 25-27 to play StarCraft II – a real-time strategy game produced by the game developer Blizzard. With them came 4,000 enthusiastic fans, looking to see who the best player in the world was.
To put it into perspective, the combined tournament earnings of the top 50 most successful players totals nearly six-million dollars, with the highest paid player having amassed $406,788 so far. Even more impressive, according to the CEO of Blizzard, Mike Morhaime, the current global viewership of StarCraft II as of Apr. 2013 has exceeded the viewership of the NHL.
These numbers probably seem unreasonably high to those doubting the legitimacy of the game itself, but top players know it requires intense dedication.
“It’s basically like a job,” says Chris Loranger (pictured), a successful Canadian pro-gamer known by his ID “HuK” in the StarCraft II community. “I’ll play eight to twelve hours a day on the days I’m practising, which is about 300 days a year.”
So what makes StarCraft II interesting to watch? To fans of traditional sports, the concept of watching a video game must seem confusing. To help those interested, I sat down with Sean “Day ” Plott, arguably the game’s most successful personality to ask him why someone should check out StarCraft II and e-sports. Plott is known for hosting his own online show “The Day  Daily,” and has been recognized by Forbes as one of the “Top 30 under 30,” alongside other notable celebrities, including Jennifer Lawrence and Donald Glover.
“Ever been into football? – Like American football where I’m from? – It’s really exciting and fun, as you get into it with your favourite team or region. After you watch the exciting play, you can’t do it yourself, because you need to get a full team together. Games are something where you can hop on immediately and try it yourself,” says Plott.
This kind of accessibility has led to almost four million people playing StarCraft II, with a significant portion tuning in to watch the fast-paced real-time strategy game.
If you’re interested in delving into StarCraft II and e-sports, the World Championship Grand Finals will be streamed online at on Nov. 8-9 with players competing for a massive $250,000 prize pool.