Keyboard Warriors

The rise of the digital athlete

An important confrontation will have a critical flashpoint inside of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. No, we’re not talking about the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump. The leaders will be long gone by the time Vietnam hosts a League of Legends championship in May.

The game’s 2019 Mid-Season Invitational will occur on May 1st in Ho Chi Minh City, which will host two rounds of the tournament with players from 13 regions, which collectively represent around two dozen countries, including far off nations like Turkey, the US and also Vietnam. From May 10 to 14, the tournament will continue in Hanoi before finishing at the semifinals and finals in Taipei.


Players will compete for cash prizes worth up to USD2 million total per event. Vietnam is the secondlargest market for the online battle strategy game, according the Chris Tran, a spokesperson with creator Riot Games. “League of Legends is a cultural phenomena,” Chris said. “Most people in a certain demographic play or know someone who plays.” The “certain demographic” Chris is talking about are young, high school- and collegeaged males. He said the popularity with young adults makes sense both because of their high amounts of uncommitted time— League of Legends is a game that, like others, rewards continued play with more powerful weapons and in-game  currency—and the fact that the game’s central themes revolve around the importance of the individual player as a leader of an army doing battle, a place where a young person might begin to build a sense of competency and talent for themselves. Not only that, but there are even platforms like Twitch nowadays that allow users to live stream their gameplay and earn more money. In fact, some gamers tend to buy Twitch viewers to boost their metrics at first.

Day 3 at the 2018 World Championship Group Stage at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center in Busan, South Korea, on 12 October 2018.
Day 3 at the 2018 World Championship Group Stage at the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center in Busan, South Korea, on 12 October 2018.

“It’s like a coming of age thing,” Chris said. The spring tournament marks the game’s 10th anniversary. “We want to celebrate the popularity [of the game]. No better way to do that than to host the championships.” Vietnamese players will play against players from around the world in the tournament. Chris said the Vietnamese League of Legends player community can hold their own but are generally outperformed by other countries with higher overall talent. Because of this, Vietnamese players tend to go for a very aggressive play style and are able to take control of the game sometimes by taking unexpected, unusual moves against opponents. “We’re like the underdogs of the global community,” Chris said. “It’s a very aggressive style. Very unorthodox but a lot of raw talent. The whole world perks up when a Vietnamese person is playing… “ Vietnam’s selection as the host country of two events in this e-sports championship are also consistent with the country’s unmatched professional gaming audience size. Newzoo, a consumer research firm that specializes in e-sports participation and viewership, in 2016 found that Vietnam was home to 2.8 million e-sports enthusiasts, nearly a quarter of the 9.5 million estimated to live in the ASEAN region. The firm estimates the number of e-sports followers and players has grown since that time to 19.8 million.


The report includes viewership numbers from e-sports streaming service Twitch. While online shooter Overwatch and tactical, team-based first-person shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have consistently pulled in sizable shares of the e-sports audience, League of Legends pulled in a healthy majority of e-sports viewership. The game consistently pulled in around 100 million viewing hours, according to the report’s 2016 Twitch data; that’s over 25 percent of all time spent watching e-sports on Twitch across all the games it streams. The 2018 MidSeason Invitational last year accrued 363 million watched hours across 60 million viewers. At peak viewership, the contest last year had 18.8 simultaneous viewers. That’s almost as many people that watched the 2019 Grammy’s.


In spite of these bonafides—the viewership, the seriousness of the competitors and the monies awarded to players are either prizes or salaries (some of which are many times higher than those of traditional athletes)—esports, for some, still carries a stigma belonging to broad social judgements of video games in general, that they are not serious or that becoming talented as a gamer is not a worthy pursuit.

Chris, a League of Legends player himself is all too aware of the cloud of stigma around what some consider a vice that should be attended to in limited quantities if at all, offered a portrayal of gaming as a kind of complementary skill much like a traditional sport. “I think when you think about something that’s competitive, it’s all about performance,” he said. “That’s one of those universal things about sports in school.”

The basic talent ecosystem works the same, he explained. All the parts are there for one to play for leisure or to play in as a paid professional.


On the question of whether e-sports is a legitimate form of competition, “when you say that, it kind of puts us on the back foot and says we’re not legitimate,” he countered.

The question of how legitimacy occurs is undoubtedly a complicated one, but a fruitful place to start is by participation, professionalization and popularity. Chris argued that all are a feature of League of Legends playing community and e-sports as a whole.

“There’s something out there [when] a whole generation of people derive satisfaction from it.”

Images Provided by Riot Games

Share this story, choose your platform!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on tumblr
Share on google
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on vk
Share on email
About the author:

Leave a Comment

How Carpet Cleaning Enhances Carpet’s life and Value?

Carpet cleaning can be painstaking when you have a large house and many carpets. With that in mind, it is easy to understand why people require the services of professional carpet cleaning companies that can quickly clean up your messes. However, carpets are not the only things you might need to clean up. When it

Read More »

Is Horse Racing A Popular Sport In South-East Asia?

With horse racing being one of the oldest sports on the planet, it is common to see traces of it in different locations around the globe. Even though most people tie horse racing with Europe and the United States, there are other regions like Asia that are the sport’s most progressive markets. Thanks to modern

Read More »

How far Atlanta United has come to be a top club

Soccer fans, as well as betting enthusiasts, will agree that Atlanta United FC is one of the top-ranking soccer teams in the United States. The soccer club which is based in Atlanta has been competing in Major League Soccer since 2017 when they joined the league as an expansion team. Kate Richardson, one of the

Read More »

Beginners Guide To Sports Betting

Betting on sports is a perfect means to earn extra money. It’s also a lot of fun, and you can learn how to do it in no time at all. Sports betting is an exciting activity that will keep you entertained for hours. You don’t need any special skills or knowledge to start making bets.

Read More »

The States That Have Legalized Marijuana So Far 2021

Are you interested in the legalization status of marijuana, especially in the United States, and want to learn more? Do you want to know where in the United States you could visit and still be able to smoke a joint legally? The legalization of marijuana has been a hot topic in the United States for

Read More »

Online Casino sign up bonuses in Japan

Online casino welcome bonuses are some of the biggest and most popular bonuses in the world, registration bonuses that you can use to increase your chances of winning. What is a registration bonus? An online casino welcome bonus is a bonus that is offered when you sign up for a casino. These types of bonuses

Read More »