We just discussed how esports is on the rise in 2016. Now it seems as though ESPN, one of the biggest channels and websites covering sports today, will be dedicating coverage to esports as well. ESPN Esports launched last week and will hopefully give esports some much needed validity in the North American market. Let’s examine where the esports site currently stands, and what we’d like to see in the coming months.
At present the ESPN Esports site feels more like a site that covers MOBA titles almost exclusively. A bulk of the coverage on the site is focused on League of Legends, with additional content for DOAT2. There are a handful of articles covering other titles such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Heroes of the Storm and Super Smash Bros, but the focus is squarely on MOBAs. This is where we’d like to see the most improvement.
It makes sense that ESPN would focus on MOBA titles as they are the biggest genre in esports at the moment. We expect coverage to expand over time, but ESPN needs to be more than a competitive gaming fan site. ESPN can do a lot for the competitive gaming scene, and we have high expectations for the site. We’ll see how coverage improves over the coming months as the site really starts to get going, but to focus a majority of your coverage on the MOBA genre is to ignore the bigger picture.
The World Series of Poker was brought to a mainstream audience largely due to ESPN broadcasting the tournament series. ESPN can do the same thing with esports by helping to grow awareness in the North American market. By focusing on MOBA titles, ESPN is currently excluding a huge potential audience. We already know a large portion of competitive gaming fans are perfectly satisfied watching League of Legends and DOTA2 on Twitch. ESPN caters to a much wider audience that may be more inclined to watch a first-person shooter even a fighting game.
It’s understandable why ESPN chose to begin coverage with a focus on MOBA titles, but what we’ve seen of other genres is lackluster at best. One of the biggest Smash Bros. tournaments in the world took place last weekend. ESPN offered a preview article that was in-part a look at how the Smash competitive scene has evolved, but then hasn’t followed it up with anything since. We didn’t get any updated scores throughout the weekend (something regularly found on other dedicated fighting game community sites), or even a recap of the event on Monday. Anyone who may have read the preview on ESPN now has to search elsewhere for additional information on the event.
Even if we look beyond the lack of diversity (after all, it has only been one week), there’s a lack of big stories that should come hand-in-hand with the ESPN name. The coverage we see right now is akin to the coverage you’d find on any esports site. With the name recognition of ESPN, where is the interview with Activision Blizzard executives discussing the acquisition of Major League Gaming? Where is the interview with Turner executives talking about the upcoming television league on TBS? These are two huge stories in the competitive gaming scene that ESPN hasn’t touched at all, yet we have countless articles covering the daily happenings in League of Legends and DOTA2.
Once again, the site has only been live for a week. We understand there are some limitations with what can be done in such a short amount of time. Big things are expected to come to esports with ESPN now covering the competition in-depth, but we also expect to see ESPN Esports offer a broad look at competitive gaming. This is a big opportunity to bring esports to the North American masses, and at present there isn’t much more than what we’d see on Team Liquid or even LoL Esports. We’ll be keeping a close eye on ESPN as this is a huge opportunity for competitive gaming and we hope to see ESPN leading the charge. For now, if you’re a fan of League of Legends or DOTA2, ESPN is a great destination for competitive coverage.