League Of Legends Treads The Water of Traditional Sports

By Rena Thomas and Jordan Bowman

Thirteen men and two women filed into the empty lecture hall of the Humanities building on a Friday afternoon. Lugging their laptops, equipped with a high-tech mouse and headphones. The League of Legends club members bunched into small groups and flipped open their laptops. Huddling around the glowing screen in deep concentration. The sound of the rigorous clicking of keys and trash talk radiating throughout the hall gives a sign that the real-time action strategy game has begun.

The E-sport League of Legends has grown rapidly since it’s beginning in 2009

The world championships of league, also known as Worlds, was held this past Saturday in Berlin and exemplified the magnitude of this world wide phenomena.

League of Legends attracts 30 millions viewers every day, more than the game 7 of the NBA finals 2014, according to Research and Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Sport of Paris Descartes University, Nicolas Besombes.

The gaming community calls these interactive games eSports according to Besombes.

“It is specialized in the organization of codified confrontations between players that take place through screen(s), during networked national or international video game competitions,” Besombes said in an e-mail interview.

What attracts so many players, according to Sports Psycology Masters Student David Gofman, is the games convenience.

“League of Legends requires fairly minimal system requirements to work on a computer, making it very accessible to the majority of people,” Gofman said, “And like most action video games a computer game makes it far more accessible than say football or baseball.”

League of Legends is a multiplayer computer game most commonly played with 10 players each split into opposing teams who battle against one another. It is an ever changing game, with new characters at different levels who can obtain new skills throughout. Allowing the game to stay fluid. Players can play with friends or meet other players within the game who they connect with.

The League Championship Series, Gofman says, is the equivalent of the MLB or NFL. Players play these characters in front of 10’s of millions of viewers and sold out stadiums around the world like this past week’s World Championships held in Berlin.

A non-professional player can watch a professional player use the same champions. A champion is a term used for a character in the game. A professional can use the same champion a non-professional would enjoy playing, which provides a vicarious experience to the viewers.


Besombes describes the distinctive structural criteria that define sport to include motor skills, competition, rules and regulation and institution and said e-sport qualifies as a “parallel form” of sport. The field of play is virtual but the abilities of the players are real. It is more like darts or pool a very fine dexterity is needed.

Some sports economists, like Professor David Berri of Southern Utah University, question the validity of e-sports in comparison to traditional sports.

“What I think will remain odd to some traditional sports fans is why someone would pay money to watch someone else play a video game, “ Berri said, “Wouldn’t your rather just play it yourself?”

Former Stony Brook League of Legends club member, Neil Nelanuthala, said the definition of an athlete ranges from person to person.

“E-sports does not require athleticism, just because it only requires to click your right mouse,” Nelanuthala said, “but it does share qualities with other major sports, communication, respect for other players and an equal amount of trash talk of course.”