FROM something as major as the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games to the cancellation of minor football leagues within small communities, covid19’s effect on global sports is evident. But for some, their sport does not require leaving home. Now, there is more room and time for TT’s electronic sports (esports) community to enter the frontline.
Esports refers to organised competitions using multiplayer videogames on consoles like Xbox and PlayStation, or a PC. The competitors usually gather for official events where they play in front of an audience/spectators (both online via live stream and at location) to claim titles and win huge cash prizes. Other times, tournaments are conducted strictly online utilising streaming platforms such as YouTube and Twitch.
One offline challenge they often encounter is people saying it is “not a real sport” as they may not require as much physical activity compared to those in traditional sports. But e-athletes still require sharp reflexes, a strong ability to maintain focus, hours of training and skilful hand-eye coordination. Some games such as Call of Duty and League of Legends also promote teamwork, as in many other sports. These athletes believe they deserve the same respect.
President of Trinigamers Riyadh Bakshi has been involved in esports for about 15 years. He has hosted local tournaments at the grassroots level, as well as for government agencies and corporate clients.
His favourite games to compete in are Nintendo classic Super Smash Bros, FIFA and Street Fighter.
He told Newsday while the spread of covid19 has caused some events to be postponed, e-athletes can still be in their element.
“For the average gamer, covid19 hasn’t really changed much about how we game as we can go online and get games in with friends and rivals.
“Several large tournaments abroad have moved their physical events online or are in the process of doing so.”
NASCAR, for example, hosted an esports tournament on ESPN on March 17 in an effort to continue to provide entertainment despite the postponement of its 2020 season. It paired up with iRacing and was called the eNASCAR Pro Invitational Series.
Its vice president of racing development Ben Kennedy had said, “Until we have cars back on track, the entire NASCAR community has aligned to provide our passionate fans with a unique, fun and competitive experience on race day.”
Bakshi said the feedback seemed to be good, even from non-esports fans.
Asked how seriously he believes TT currently views esports on a scale from one to ten, he said around three or four.
“Developing a strong community, organically, is the thing we need. Persons are trying but the growth isn’t where it should be for a nation our size.”
He said he thinks the word esports created unrealistic expectations for what can be achieved, locally.
“When people research esports, they see large stadiums, millions of dollars in prizes, hundreds of thousands of live viewers.
“Esports itself depends on the publishers, the players, the spectators, and online viewership. We’re not large enough to have publisher support in a major way as yet. The players are there, spectators and online viewership are not.”
Cory Gloudon, 39, has been gaming for about 25 years. But in addition to this, he also enjoys watching football and runs races including 5ks, 10ks, and half-marathons. So, covid19 did affect him when several of his races were called off, but it also gave him more time at home to game.
But there is still another issue. Well… two – ping and bandwidth.
Ping refers to latency, which is the length of time it takes internet packets to go between a user’s computer and their internet service provider.
Bandwidth, on the other hand, can be compared to a pipe. The internet passes through, and the more bandwidth, the more packages can move between users. Downloads and uploads will also occur faster. Both of these metrics are important since multiplayer gaming requires clients to both send and receive packets.
When playing multi-player games, e-athletes need the latency to be as small as possible since things are happening second by second and players need to see things and react to them in real-time.
Gloudon told Newsday, “(Since covid19), it has a two-fold effect because all the other gamers that are home now, they are occupying the bandwidth. So, you have a lot more people to play with but at the same time, games are running much slower.
He said he believes TT has the talent to “get its name out there” with esports. Some of his fa- vourites include FPS games, Destiny and Warframe.
His sons are also gamers, with Fortnite being one of their favourites, which he calls “a child-friendly rip-off of Call of Duty.”
He said Swedish YouTube sensation, known for con- troversies, Pewdiepie was who opened his eyes
to the world of esports. “When I started fol-
“My job doesn’t allow
me to take it as serious- ly as some people but that’s when I realised this could be some- thing big – this could be a grand market.”
He said it can be very ex- pensive for PC gamers, as they usually build their own computers. He said this can cost between $8,000 and $12,000.
Gloudon admitted that when he was younger, he also believed that video games were for children.
“I would be in the arcade and see big men coming in and say ‘What?’” But now, he understands how being in such an atmosphere can improve your quality of play.
“If you have a team cheering you on, that’s sort of like juice to your system.
“We need to start looking at it as a sport. You can’t tell someone ‘That’s not a sport, you’re wasting your time.’”
Shennon Kalipersad told News- day the best, local esports com- munity is the Super Smash Bros community. This is a multiplayer fighting game featuring a crossover of various Nintendo characters.
“Others exist but it’s more like in-house gaming, so they play with their friends or you might not see as much competitions.
“In Trinidad, esports isn’t as big as it is in other parts of the world. It’s not just the fact that our popu- lation is smaller, but that we mostly focus on console games like Tekken and FIFA.”
Kalipersad is 34 years old and has been gaming for 15 years.
When it comes to the topic of covid19, he said in the interim, he will miss viewing large tourna- ments where he can see the play- ers rather than just a stream of the gameplay.
“Generally, when you have a tournament, we can look and see how they are playing, their tech- nique, and the production value, the crowds and stuff.
“So we were affected but not af- fected as much as the general pub- lic when it came to traditional sports.”
He also expressed his frustration with bandwidth issues, saying, “Because so many people are home and us- ing the internet not just for gaming but for work for Zoom and those things, the bandwidth is crowded and is being stretched. The littlest change in pic affects us.”
He believes gaming culture is more accepted now as, in the past, the average gamer would have been considered a nerd.
“It’s still mind-boggling to see a nine-year- old in school pick up this and dominating hard-back men.”
He believes if more corporate entities pushed for the advance- ment of esports locally, it will go a long way.
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