eSports - Earn Money by Gaming

Expert Interview with journalist and presenter Konni Winkler

Computer and video games have become an established part of society. eSports have developed from a niche sport to a professional and international sport with prize money in the millions. In our expert interview with journalist and presenter Konni Winkler, we have everything you need to know about eSports.

eSports Tournament

What is eSports?
eSports – one sport, many different games
Our interview with Konni Winkler
The ESL – Germany's biggest eSports network
How the professionals train
Prize money and broadcasting
Public reception and the development of eSports
Whoever said computer dweebs??

What is eSports?

eSports stands for "electronic sport". In eSports, video games are played competitively in individual or team settings. Rules are determined by the league, tournament or video game itself. In some countries, eSport is recognised as a sport by established sports federations. However, the German Olympic Sports Federation has so far rejected the classification of eSports as a sport.

eSports - one sport, many different games

As with actual physical sports, there are various types of eSports to choose from. The following 3 disciplines are the most established and are played professionally within the genre of eSports:

- real-time strategy games
- first person shooters
- sports simulations

One of the most successful games worldwide and also in Germany is League of Legends - a real-time strategy game, five brave warriors against five. Other popular games include Dota 2, Starcraft 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Heroes of the Storm, the trading card game Hearthstone and many more. The most popular games in the fighting community are Street Fighter V and Super Smash Bros.

In addition, there are always newer games being added to the mix, such as Rocket League and Overwatch. Which games are played at tournaments depends on their popularity.

ESL Gaming tournament in a stadium
Instagram ESL Gaming

Our interview with Konni Winkler

Moderator, sports and eSports journalist Konni Winkler

Konni Winkler is moderator, sports and eSports journalist. When he is not streaming on Twitch and creating Let's Plays or gaming reviews on YouTube, he moderates the morning programme of LandesWelle Thüringen or the German National League programmes on SPORT1.fm. As a freelance author, Winkler writes for SPORT1 and ZEIT ONLINE on the subject of eSports. In our interview, he gives an exciting insight into the scene that inspired him from an early age.

owayo: Hello Konni: How did you come into eSports and what fascinates you most about it? Konni Winkler: I have had a great passion for video games since my childhood. At some point, this also led me to eSports, because the games I was interested in were also played at the professional level. My fascination with eSports comes from playing the games I love with others who love it as well. The only difference is that the pros do it better, more beautifully and more spectacularly. It's like basketball: When I shoot the ball with my mates and then see what Lebron can do, it fascinates me.

eSports events often take place in stadiums with thousands of attendees: Which competitions do you moderate at? My most recent event where I casted and commentated - was at the TAG Heuer Virtuelle Bundesliga in FIFA 17. The final event lasted two days and took place at the German Football Museum in Dortmund. Cihan Yasarlar, who is under contract with FC Schalke 04, became German champion and won the 15,000 Euro prize money. I also moderated at the FIFA Ultimate Team Regional Finals in Madrid on the official German-language broadcast for SPORT1.

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Involvement of Bundesliga clubs in eSports

Cihan Yasarlar of FC Schalke 04 is not the only eSports athlete who is under contract to a Bundesliga club. Besides FC Schalke 04, VfL Wolfsburg also has its own squad of eSports athletes. Other clubs, such as HSV or FC Ingolstadt, are preparing to enter the eSports arena. In 2016, the German Football League (DFL) also registered several brands associated with eSport, such as "eBundesliga" (article in German). The eSports athletes of the Bundesliga clubs mainly play FIFA football games, which is in-line with Germany's favourite sport, football.

ESL - Germany's largest eSports network

The TAG Heuer Virtual Bundesliga in FIFA 17 is of course not the only eSports event out there: What other events, tournaments and leagues are there? Every major eSports title has its own tournament, which are usually run online up to the qualifications. Once the competition is widdled down, the tournaments and stadium faze begins. ESL is one of the largest tournament organisers in Germany with many different games. In addition there are official tournaments from the game developers themselves. Riot Games, the makers of League of Legends, has its official world championship, as does Valve with Dota 2. Blizzard titles such as Starcraft 2 include Blizzcon.

How the professionals train

To qualify for tournaments, you have to train. So how do eSports athletes train? Pro gamers earn money by gaming, that is their job. Depending on the game, players train between eight and ten hours a day. Before important tournaments, a team usually comes together for boot camps in gaming houses. The team's owner usually provides room and board so that the team can train intesively. Physical fitness is key here. Playing physical sports is very important and encouraged by the gaming community.

eSports female gaming on PC
Instagram ESL Gaming

Is there doping in eSports? Doping was a big issue a few years ago when Counter-Strike player Kory "Semphis" Friesen admitted that his then team Cloud9 had been using Adderall, which is used in the treatment of ADHD. He claimed that use of Adderall was wide spread in the community - especially in games like Counter-Strike that rely on quick reactions and wits. Shortly after this statement, the ESL together with the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), introduced doping tests at major eSports tournaments.

What skills and talents does an eSports athlete need? It depends. Playing Dota 2, a real-time strategy game, doesn't necessarily require fast reflexes, whereas Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is all about reacting quick. The same goes for to Starcraft 2, where the actions per minute (APM), i.e. mouse and keyboard inputs are measured. Professional players reach between 300 and 500 APM. Hand-eye coordination, but also fitness is a must. An individual and team tactical understanding is important for team games. Be prepared to play a lot.

Pro gamers playing Call of Duty
Instagram Call of Duty World League

Prize Money and Fame

How much does a pro gamer earn and how much is the prize money? The best players and teams earn very well. Many have player contracts, receive a monthly salary and a share of the tournament winnings. Some tournaments pay out a minimum just for participating. This is what Blizzard did with the Heroes of the Storm Global Championships. Each team received a minimum of $100,000. The best earning German pro gamer is Kuro "KuroKy" Takhasomi. So far, he has earned more than one million dollars - just from gaming!

The most prize money ever awarded was last year at "The International" tournament for Dota 2 for 20,770,460 US dollars. The winners Wings Gaming won over 9 million dollars from that tournament.
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Where can I watch eSports events? eSport events are rarely found on television, with the exception of the German TV channel SPORT1, which occasionally broadcasts League of Legends games on TV. The German channel ProSieben MAXX had been broadcasting the Counter-Strike league ELEAGUE. However, the company stopped broadcasting Counter Strike games after it became known that the attacker in the July 22 shooting in Munich also played Counter Strike.

eSports enthusiasts can find live broadcasts of their favourite games on the Twitch TV platform. Facebook Live and Youtube Gaming are also good places to find your favourite eSport games.
People looking at an LED screen showing a computer game
Instagram Twitch

Public reception and the development of eSports

How has public interest in the sport developed in recent years and what were the reasons for this? The gaming industry is growing steadily. In addition, eSports titles are often "free to play", so they cost nothing and can be downloaded and played without the financial barrier. This means a large number of players can participate in eSports, regardless of their financial background. Watching via Twitch is also free and possible everywhere thanks to the Internet. So gamers can try out what they see right at home - free of charge. Offline events with affordable entrance fees are also becoming the norm in Germany.

What were the reasons for the professionalisation of the industry? Where there are people and interest, there is a market. Many sponsors want to profit from the boom, as do the tournament organisers. If there is as much money in a market as there is in eSports, then you need to build up your professional image if you want to be taken seriously.

What do you think of German National League teams like Schalke 04 or VfL Wolfsburg getting into the eSports scene? Schalke and Wolfsburg are just a few examples of classic sports clubs that are testing the waters in eSports, among those are Besiktas Istanbul, Paris St. Germain, and New York City F.C.

Schalke and Wolfsburg approach eSport differently however. Schalke 04 has FIFA players, like the reigning German champion Cihan Yasarlar, as well as a League of Legends team. VfL Wolfsburg is currently only relying on FIFA 17 as its sole video game. eSports is a way to branch out to new potential fans.

Two dudes playing a video game on a computer while wearing headsets
Instagram Konni Winkler

Whoever said being nerdy is bad?

Are gamers seen as nerdy or are they taken seriously in the general public? After all, Carlos Rodriguez - the world's most popular gamer on Facebook has 609,348 fans. Are gamers seen as nerdy or are they taken seriously in the general public? After all, Carlos Rodriguez - the world's most popular gamer on Facebook has 609,348 fans.

In the West, however, perception has also changed considerably. It's getting increasingly harder to stay at the top of your sport. In recent years, tens of thousands of people have traveled to Dota 2 tournaments in the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt am Main in Germany. Counter-Strike fills the Lanxess Arena to the brim in Cologne. And two years ago, the finals of the League of Legends tournament in Berlin's Mercedes-Benz area with 20,000 avid video game fan-spectators was sold out in a very quick amount of time.
A team of esport athletes celebrating their epic win in the difficult tournament
Instagram ESL Gaming
Around 43 million viewers via livestream watched the finals of the League of Legends World Championship "Worlds." At any single time there were 14.7 million viewers. By the way, the finals took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in front of 20,000 spectators.
eSports gamers aren't your mom's dorito-eating, mountain dew-chugging basement dwellers - to name a typical cliché.

How does the German eSports community compare internationally? We are represented in all major titles, so Germany doesn't really have to hide there.

How do you think eSports will develop in the coming years? Interest will only continue to grow - perhaps some game titles will be added, while others will lose popularity. There is no doubt that eSports will achieve a similar status as classical sports as an entertainment programme.

The right jersey for your eSport team

eSports jersey from owayo

Still looking for the perfect jersey for your eSports team? Then take a look at our shop. owayo offers a large selection of professional eSports jerseys and team jackets. You can customise them in our 3D Kit Designer exactly how you want.

We hope that we were able to give you an exciting insight into the eSports scene and would like to thank Konni Winkler.

Images: Title image: ©istock/Homunkulus28

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