The past two weeks have been monumental for Esports, particularly in Canada.

August 27-28 saw the League of Legends LCS Summer Split Finals take place at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

And just this past weekend, Fan Expo Toronto hosted the Northern Arena LAN Finals for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

These examples and many more highlight the continuously growing Esports phenomenon…

BUT…

What does this mean exactly and why should anyone outside the realm of Esports care?

 

Esports Legitimacy

For starters, Canada can now be legitimized as a viable locale. We can host Esports events or tournaments and kick ass doing so.

Just watch what Yiliang “Doublelift” Peng of Team SoloMid had to say about the Canadian crowd.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hhbNZiRkiR0#t=0m34s

Beyond the exposure of our cultural identity, another consequence that emerges is the legitimization of Canada as a source of fandom.

And if history is to be trusted, where fandom exists, booming business opportunities are sure to follow.

First, some context: the League of Legends Summer Grand Finals match raked in a sold out venue of 15,000 fans with 32 million more streaming online.

With demographics like these, small wonder that I was able to find some League of Legends merchandise on the Fan Expo show floor, both official and unlicensed.

But that’s just the small fry.

lol-good-game-bar esports

Local businesses are not just refashioning their business models to account for the rise in Esports but some others have built businesses to cater specifically to the Esports demographic.

 

Ever heard of Good Game Bar?

 

Here—located in Toronto—one can have a non-Bubble Tea, alcoholic drink while comfortably enjoying the live stream of the Evo Grand Finals match. (#notracist)

And all this… this is just the beginning.

 

Social Transformation

A bar streaming Esports matches could mean that Esports is—perhaps above all—a social phenomenon.

Gone are the days when video games were just for the nerds or the closeted gamer. It is for everyone.

lol-otaku-neet

Take the attendance at the LCS League of Legends Final, for example. I expected the image of the socially awkward, physically unfit, otaku-NEET to be the dominant one in attendance but the case was the exact opposite.

Hot, muscular guys weren’t dime a dozen, but I must confess that maybe I’m too much of a socially awkward otaku-NEET (at least, in appearance) to have approached one.

People came in groups of three to seven, with no discrimination in appearance, class, ethnicity, and even age (though the majority would definitely be millennial).

Sure, the female demographic sits at a dismal (but hopeful) 10-15% for Esports overall, but huge strides have transpired in its almost two-decade existence to bring that number to where it is now.

 

A Millennial Venture

That said, Esports is a millennial phenomenon.

lol-tsm
TSM fields teams not just for League of Legends, but also for Hearthstone, Super Smash Brothers, and Counter-Strike: GO.

Starcraft and an innumerable amount of fighting games paved the way for the rise of Esports but arguably, League of Legends solidified its cultural presence.

LoL heavily influenced the creation of an Esports subdivision on TSN, its team organizations were successful enough to branch their brands out to other games (Counter Strike: GO, Smash Brothers, Heroes of Warcraft. Etc.), and even attracted business people outside of the industry to invest their resources into Esports.

 

 

 

 

Did you know that the NA team Echo Fox is owned by ex-pro NBA player, Rick Fox? Or that Susan Tully, the CEO of the European team, H2K Gaming, was also the CFO for Kanye West?

lol-gordon-hayward
Pro NBA player Gordon Hayward, showing his love for League of Legends.

A job in the Esports industry does not just mean that one aspires to be a professional gamer nor does it mean that it is a business just for gamers—as it is, the possibilities for career exploration are endless.

Those with backgrounds in sports casting, TV production, engineering, event organizing, marketing, journalism— and many others—are welcome to shave off the tip and trail blaze into the Esports iceberg.

For the last seven years, Riot Games, the organization behind LoL, did not explore Canada as a pit stop for one of their hugest events. But when it happened two weeks ago at the Summer Split Championship, somehow on a subconscious level, these millennial opportunities became attainable.

As if what was being said was, “This is happening. This world is real. And you are most welcome to jump in.”

So come on, Canada, let’s get more of us out there.

 

O Canada

Gonna be honest—attending the League of Legends Summer Finals Split was one of the best moments of my life.

More than what it showed was possible in the future, it highlighted its massive impact in the now.

lol-wildturtle

When Toronto native Jason “Wildturtle” Tran, the “AD Carry” (a game role in LoL) for team Immortals, walked out into the ACC stadium draped with the Canadian flag…

THE HOUSE ROARED INTO AN EAR-SHATTERING CATERWAUL!

The results were not dissimilar when two more Canadian players—Andy “Smoothie” Ta of Team Cloud 9 and my fellow University of Toronto alumni, Vincent “Biofrost” Wang of Team SoloMid—emerged the following day in the grand final.

The impact wasn’t necessarily about having Canadian representatives in the game but more about having been able to partake in the Canadian collective pride, in the same vein that one might do so in a Blue Jays game or in the Olympics.

For someone who does not care much for traditional athletic sports, being able to finally feel Canadian pride over this newish, video game-based type of sports was…

… and I’ll say it again—it was monumental.

And I don’t think we’re done yet!

 

 

I recently purchased new guts for my PC after a several month hiatus on gaming and opted to try some of the games I acquired during the Steam summer sale. Of those, the ones really worth talking about would be Aliens: Isolation which I have not worked up the courage for and The Long Dark, a survival game set in the majestic northern Canadian Wilderness. After a plane crash caused by an Electromagnetic storm you must travel through rough terrain back to civilization seeking food, water, and shelter while avoiding prowling wolves, marauding bears, and the icy indifference of blizzards. Currently the game is in Alpha and only the Sandbox mode is available with a Story mode launching later this year.

 

I like to fool around in games mostly; story is nice but being thrown into a game with no foreknowledge and little to no explanation beyond trial and error makes for good entertainment in my books. I chose the middle difficulty (Voyageur) and jumped right in. Almost immediately a variety of hints greeted me and before long I had the basics in hand much to my dismay. I soon came across some railroad tracks and followed those to a good-sized cabin by a lake. I ventured inside and gathered up what I could. While certainly helpful there just wasn’t enough to sustain me for more than a day or two so I had to keep looking. Returning to the outside I could see a couple of ice fishing huts on the frozen lake and so made my way to them and looted those as well, after that it was a short trek to a couple more cabins and beyond those more huts and more cabins. This was almost too easy. I had amassed a large collection of food, spare parts for crafting, and even a few bullets with many more spots to clean out. In my greed, however, I didn’t notice the black blurs patrolling the ice. On my way to the next group of cabins I heard an insistent barking and saw that the black blurs were quickly becoming more defined and they had too many sharp bits for my taste. I bolted back to the cabins just barely making it in before they ran me down. Such went my first encounter with wolves. I spent the next several hours peeking out periodically to see if the wolves were still around, they were. I reigned myself to spending the night and hoping for the best in the morning and while the wolves were gone so too was my food. What I thought was a good collection turned out to be next to nothing to my monstrous hunger, I had to find more. A quick jog brought me to the untouched cabins and I cleaned those out. A few more morsels could be found in a couple more fishing huts so I figured I’d have enough for more scavenging tomorrow. My hopes had returned but with them came the wolves. This time I wasn’t lucky enough to make it back into the cabin.

 

On my second play through I fared significantly better, I found a rifle and learned that wolves have a good amount of meat on them which solved two problems. So far so good but we will see how that goes in the next zone. I have a feeling that my luck will run dry when I need it most. Overall this game is a lot of fun and while certainly not the best looking graphically; it has a good style which I absolutely adore. Walking through the misty woods is unnerving and desperately searching for somewhere to hide in a blizzard is terrifying while your health drops lower and lower. A good amount of animals populate the world providing lots of opportunity and challenge depending on how kitted out you are. Lastly, the sandbox mode is fun and I imagine the story mode will be even better from what they intend to add. Winter is right around the corner and there’s nothing quite like sitting in a cozy room while your game character freezes to death.

Dear Kevin (@thatkevinsmith),

It pains me to write this but to paraphrase you I have a certain voice and the internet is here for me exploit it. Please don’t take this as a lament of a nerdy guy sitting in his directors arm chair declaring what it’s good and whats not. I have been taken and I have followed you revelry by the wandering dispensers of truth(s) and bud. Weaving themselves in and out tales of meccas of merchandise, corner store purgatories, irrevocably ink stained hearts, adventures in bible sitting and finally there own story of home grown vengeance and how to get the girl in the end.

I will never watch Yoga Hosers (@yogahosers), your love for my home and native land is glowing and fervent but when I heard about this production it cut me to quick. Making a film about two Canadian girls working at an after school job in a Manitoba convenience store only to be menaced by an unknown and superannuated evil from the depths of the Earth’s core. But it wasn’t being filmed in Canada?

I don’t mean to trivialize the film itself and the hard working men & women who worked on it, But I think you missed a really important character in your casting call. That would be The Dominion of Canada herself in all her red, white but never blue glory. It’s a minor pharisaim to profess and show your love for a place and it’s people, but to make a film essentially about us seemingly without us.

You flew the flag proudly on Shannon Doherty‘s denim jacket. Do you feel unloved by your cousins across the border? Arguably you along with Mewes were the most entertaining guest stars Degrassi has ever had. Too illustrate my thoughts imagine if in 1962 in production for Lawrence Of Arabia starring the late great Peter O’Toole himself based on historical or generally accepted facts. In the pro production of the film they deiced well we only need a desert why don’t we just go to Nevada to shoot it? It’ll be great weekends we can go into town play craps and won’t have to deal with moving the whole operation to Morocco and Jordan. I mean really after all sand is the same everywhere isn’t it?

Cover of "Lawrence of Arabia (Single Disc...
Cover via Amazon

Really who would care if you tell a story about a place and a people and a culture. Featuring actor and actress’s from these cultures and of these people. If they were too do so without such magnanimous elements seems quite callow and spurious.

As I said in the beginning I follow you with great revelry, when Clerks III comes I will be there opening day just as I did for Clerks II. Stoked with all the promise and exuberance one man can muster. But as long as you fly the meritorious pennon of Canada on film outside her transcendent borders. My disappointment will be immodest using the best option(s) available to me I will abstain from viewing then vote with my wallet and not invite it into my home to adorn my shelf or digital library as were quickly coming too.

Sincerely,

Dave