Are esports really sports?
Over Labor Day weekend, fans gathered at TD Garden to witness a spectacle unlike any previously hosted at the venue. The stage and venue configuration were similar to what one would find at a professional wrestling match, except that the competitors battled each other at computers instead of in a ring.
An estimated 12,000 people viewed the Sunday finale of the North American League of Legends Championship Series, the culmination of a six-month season of competition between 10 teams. The league usually broadcasts matches online to hundreds of thousands of viewers every week from its home base in Los Angeles, but at the end of every season Riot Games, the League of Legends publisher, takes the show on the road. With Delaware North’s recent interest in esports and the return of Boston’s student population to bolster the attendance numbers, TD Garden was chosen to host the games.
Crowds cheered, commentators provided color and insight, and players competed for thousands of dollars in prize money. It looked a lot like a professional sports contest, but was it?