The Pioneer

Golden State Warriors look to dominate video gaming

Phot courtesy of NBA.com

Phot courtesy of NBA.com

Austin Teegarden,
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Esports — professional online video game competition between multiple players — has been growing into a worldwide phenomenon in the past decade or more. Fans like to watch professional gamers compete, which they can do for free.

Viewership has grown incrementally as the sport has grown in popularity and can often surpass many other sports like basketball. Key figures in the NBA and other celebrities have taken note of this and are getting in on the action.

Four NBA teams have applied, been accepted and paid for a spot in the North America League of Legends Championship Series (NALCS). The Cleveland Cavaliers, 100 Thieves, Houston Rockets, Clutch Gaming, Milwaukee Bucks, Flyquest and the Golden State Warriors, Golden Guardians, all have a spot. Ironically, even outside of basketball, the Warriors and Cavs are still rivals.

The online-only 2016 League of Legends World Championship finals broadcast produced 43 million unique viewers, compared to the 2016 NBA Finals, which produced 30 million unique viewers. In the 2017 world “League of Legends” finals, according to EsportsCharts.com, they produced 60 million unique viewers, a huge jump from the year before.

“League of Legends,” a free five-versus-five computer game, is one of the biggest esports games today. It’s a game you can play alone or with a group of friends. Players can choose a character who can cast spells or shoot bullets as fast as you can click and kill your opponent. This game has become so big that people can play this game professionally, on a team and get paid a large sum, for a long time.

Since 2011, “League of Legends” has had a professional league where the best players from all around the world compete to win the world championship. There is a league in North America that plays every weekend in Los Angeles that hosts 10 teams, 50 of the best players in the world, all with one goal in mind: win.

When the NALCS announced that teams must apply, interview, then pay a hefty fee — as much as $13 million over four years — to enter, the stock of esports grew even higher.

According to the Golden Guardians media guide posted on NBA.com, the team is headed by Kirk Lacob, the assistant general manager of the Golden State Warriors and Hunter Leigh, head of esports for the Warriors. Leigh used to work with the company that developed and released the game, “League of Legends,” Riot Games. In an interview with Dot Esports, Lacob said, “League of Legends is obviously the best in its class.” He is also the brain behind the team’s investment and creation of a team in the “NBA 2K” esports league called Warriors Gaming Squad.

The weekend of Jan. 20 was the first of ten weekends going forward in the NALCS and the Golden Guardians fan base was in full force. During the pregame, the shots of the crowd showed Warriors fans with their Curry jerseys and even one guy in full uniform, ready to fill in for any of the players. The crowd plays a huge factor into games as throughout the game you can hear the crowd scream and shout over every big play, giving the players more motivation to do well.

Overall, the first weekend was a good showing for all of the new teams who have entered the NALCS. The Golden Guardians and 100 Thieves had opposite weekends with the Guardians dropping their first two games while 100 Thieves won both of theirs. There’s nothing wrong with losing the first two games; they were not the only team to do so. When the Golden Guardians and the 100 Thieves clashed on Feb. 11, the biggest rivalry in basketball was played on a computer screen.

After these last two weekends of play, it is safe to assume the Golden Guardians are off to a slow start and that’s to be expected with teams that have new players. No one on the team has been together in the past and that’s showing in their gameplay, missed calls and bad timing on plays always lead to disaster. This shouldn’t deter any new fans of the game, the Golden Guardians have eight more weeks to turn their play around and win in the end.

“League of Legends” has been the face of esports and the Golden State Warriors have been the face of basketball so it only makes sense that these two would collide sooner or later.

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California State University East Bay
Golden State Warriors look to dominate video gaming