An E-Sporting Chance: The Fates

Our e-sports correspondent is EFSI World‘s Jeb Boone. This week he looks at the worries around Starcraft 2, and the impact League Of Legends is having on the pro community.

On Wednesday, October 17th, the Fates seemed to be conspiring to kill e-sports. Like their Roman counterparts, the e-sports Parcae spin, measure and cut the USB cord of life, deciding what will live, and who will disband. On that day, beloved StarCraft 2 team SlayerS disbanded in a fury of controversy and vitriol, and with concerns about Heart Of The Swarm, the future of e-sports as a whole. Here’s what happened.

The timing of the e-sports fates was apt – just hours before, top SC2 player Destiny wrote a well-sourced and scathing critique of Blizzard Entertainment, arguing that the StarCraft 2 developer had not done enough to retain a large casual player base, Heart of the Swarm, StarCraft 2’s coming expansion, may be destined for failure.

“I’m sorry if I come off as pessimistic, but with the way that RioT and Valve are doing SO MANY THINGS right with their respective games, I can’t see SC2 being considered a serious competitive game come 2 years from now,” wrote Destiny. and r/StarCraft shared a good deal of Destiny’s concern. The next morning, many awoke to the news of SlayerS’ disbandment. Perhaps the most alarming development in the SlayerS scandal was that three of the team’s players had been sneaking out of the SlayerS house to play League of Legends. Upon the disbandment, the StarCraft community learned that Puzzle, Coca and Min had left the world’s most well-loved RTS to play League of Legends professionally.

Source:EFSI World.

“It’s true that Puzzle, Coca, and Min will switch to League of Legends. They have been playing League of Legends together for a while and probably left the team house a couple of months ago. The news about them getting sick might have been a lie made up by the team since there was no other way [to announce their absence],” said former SlayerS player Alicia in an interview with ESFI.

In spite of what many pillars of the StarCraft community assert, there still exists a bit of a rivalry between StarCraft players and League of Legends players. Boasting unprecedented numbers of stream viewers for their season two finals, League of Legends is undoubtedly the most watched and most played game in e-sports. Abdicating the throne has not been easy for StarCraft players and fans after enjoying two years of unrivaled sovereignty.

However, in spite of the fatalism and melancholy, StarCraft soldiered on. There was a GSL Code S final on Saturday, damn it.

The most prolific player in GSL history, Jong Hyun “Mvp” Jung, met Seung Hyun “Life” Lee to do battle for $42,600 and the most sought-after championship in StarCraft. Life, just 15 years-old, brought down the four-time GSL Code S champion in a stunning best of five series, making e-sports history as the world’s first StarCraft 2 “Royal Roader”. The Royal Roader title is a rare distinction given to a rookie after winning the GSL (OSL or MSL during the days of Brood War) in their first season of qualification.

Life joins the ranks of players like BoxeR, Jaedong and July and distinguishes himself as one of the youngest player ever to achieve the title, along with Mind, who became an MSL Royal Roader at age 15 at the 2006 GOMTV MSL Season One.

Indeed, the parallels between life and some of StarCraft’s greatest players don’t end with the Royal Road. The young, aggressive Zerg shares a similar play style with July, another young player that rose through the ranks of Brood War.

As the GSL Code S finals came to a close, the initial group stage of Dreamhack Bucharest began featuring some of Europe and Korea’s best talent.

Major League Gaming’s “MLG vs. Proleague” (MvP) invitational is ongoing as well, pitting established StarCraft 2 players against the titans of Brood War having recently made the transition into StarCraft 2. Many speculated that the move from Brood War to StarCraft 2 could be a challenging one with the players themselves even arguing that it could take years for them to become competitive.

It was all codswallop.

The Brood War players from the Korean e-sports Association (KeSPA) have exploded into StarCraft 2 with sizeable force. In their matches against better-seasoned StarCraft 2 players in the MvP invitational (as well as the GSL and OSL for that matter) they have established themselves as capable professionals. SK Telecom’s Rain stands out among his peers as the best KeSPA player, advancing to the Code S round of four, losing only to four-time Champion Mvp. Securing his spot in next season’s Code S tournament, Rain will also play in the OSL finals next week.

Dota 2
With League of Legends taking a bit of a break after the season two finals, Dota 2 is starting up again after the International 2. In the third season of Starladder, the top seven teams have come to Kiev to compete for the championship.

As runners-up at the International 2, team Natus Vincere (Na’Vi) struggled to maintain their status as the best team in Europe. Going 10-5 in the online stages of the StarLadder, Na’Vi faced stiff challengers moving forward. However, bouncing back, they have reasserted themselves and advanced to the finals.

Team Empire was the heavy favorite going into Kiev, earning 14 wins and just one loss in the online portion of StarLadder season three. Losing to the GD B-Team (former mousesports players) they were knocked down to the losers bracket where they will face the GD B-Team again to determine who will face Na’Vi in the finals.

Yes, the Fates may be conspiring to cause controversy,but the forces of good will soldier on.

Continuing reading ESFI – the official news portal of the e-sports armies of righteousness – for more of the best coverage in e-sports.

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  1. Wodge says:

    Korean General?
    Korean General.

  2. HisMastersVoice says:

    Just a tiny little bit late to the party, are we? Starladder finals played out on Sunday. Sange And Yasha Bane for the win…

    I did follow the link to the ESFI site though. Drama, drama, drama… It’s no wonder people consider E-Sports to be a joke if even the biggestl organizations conduct their business and team management like that.

  3. aepervius says:

    “Why in the FUCK would you design a game around the most unpopular feature of its predecessor?! ”

    We are speaking of the same firm which built diablo 3 around the auction house and online coop rather than single player. I have no doubt that the suits have forgotten that even if the ultimate goal is to generate money, it should not be an obstacle to the enjoyment of the game and you should pander to your audience. Instead they snubbed the primary audience in D3 (the one which played a lot of D2, liked it, but never went on network game), made it forced network, they attempted their ill fated auction house, and now we see the same with SC2. They are missing completely WHO is the mass of their audience.

    *shrug* SC2 and D3 are dead to me. As far as i can tell nothing now can save either.

    • DeVadder says:

      Then again, they made insane amounts of money with both of these games. At least for the short term they absolutely acomplished their goals.
      It might be unfun, it might make people mad but the vast majority of people still threw their money in Blizzards direction. Blizzard does not need to care for a active and healthy e-sports community, they care for sales.
      This might possible influence the sales of the next Starcraft parts and D3 dlc or expansions in the future. Possibly. But for now, Blizzard wants to sell games and not cater to a demanding inflated ‘competetive scene’.

  4. PoLLeNSKi says:

    Wow I’m kinda impressed that someone can win their respective e-sport in their first season playing.

    As a Quake player, I haven’t seen anyone ‘new’ come close to the top level of players

    • Crainey says:

      Arguably that would be because there isn’t a consistently high level of competition any more, would it not?

      • PoLLeNSKi says:

        There’s still plenty of high-level Quaking going on – trouble is that most of it is hidden deep underground because Bethesda/Zenimax are rubbish at advertising anything except their next AAA title.

    • kaihu says:

      It’s not his first season playing, it’s the first time he qualified for the GSL Code S championship. It’s the championship with the highest level of play, and only 32 players qualify.

    • MrLebanon says:

      where could one catch streams of hardcore QUAKEing?

      • MD says:

        link to is the main news site for Quake. The comments there are full of trolling and stupid in-jokes etc., but that main page does a pretty good job of keeping you up to date with competitive Quake. You just missed a reasonably major Quake Live LAN (Adroits) last weekend, and the next one will be at DreamHack Winter starting on November 22. The DreamHack QL LANs are usually pretty great.

      • PoLLeNSKi says:

        Leveluptv and twitchtv both have fairly regular streams and plenty of vods from previous tournies.

        Being Quakers, the best way of finding out about them is on irc :)

    • glocks4interns says:

      Quake still has new players?

      • PoLLeNSKi says:

        Beth/Zeni won’t release actual player numbers and the way the tiering system works, I can only see players/games going on at the top level (except in certain ‘sampler’ games) – that said I still see players who have new(ish) aim and movement occasionally show their face in a top level game before invariably accusing someone of hacking because of bot-like aim or prediction.

    • biz says:

      Quake is actually pretty hard to get good at.

      You can’t really improve by watching. Nobody really does commentary on what they are thinking.

      There’s so much going in the player’s head that is nowhere near obvious, and it’s all happening really quickly. It’s about anticipating enemy movements and making it hard for the enemy to know what you are doing.

      And so many decisions the player makes are just wrong (due to incomplete information or various errors because he just can’t think fast enough), so even if you try learning, you’ll learn the mistakes as well.

      • MD says:

        “Nobody really does commentary on what they are thinking.”

        Rapha has actually done a few of those, and the ones I’ve seen are really good.

        Recommended: link to

        And I haven’t seen all of these yet, but: link to

        There have also been a few other self-commentaries and lessons by players of varying levels, and I reckon some of them are pretty worthwhile.

    • MD says:

      You’re not on the Baksteen bandwagon then?

  5. Crainey says:

    It has been pretty difficult watching the drama unfold in E-Sports this last week, tragic and somewhat pathetic. The community always bounces back and rallies together more determined than ever, that is probably the only reason I still have respect for E-Sports.

    The SlayerS drama has hit the community (The Korean community more-so) the hardest though. They were seen as the Evil Geniuses of Korea, the big guns, boasting some of the best players in the world. Everything seemed fine and SlayerS looked like a happy family to outsiders, how horribly wrong that assertion was.

  6. AngoraFish says:

    Weird. I thought I was reading RPS, but clearly I have entered a parallel universe. So much of the assumed knowledge in this article is completely outside any frame of reference I am familiar with.

    • Toberoth says:

      Same, I find it quite refreshing though.

    • PodX140 says:

      It’s an e-sports article, it’s assumed that you’re familiar with the game/scene at least, otherwise why would you be reading news about it? :P

      I find it’s nice though, it allows the article to flow without any stops or explanations.

    • eks says:

      I think it’s fine. I don’t follow e-sports at all so the article doesn’t mean anything to me, but am glad it exists and think RPS should definitely cover it.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      Sports? In my putergames? That’s quite worrying actually. :/

    • benkc says:

      Yeah, I got about halfway through the article before I figured out that it was apparently written by some other website. (?)

      An RPS take on this news might have been interesting. (That’s why I clicked on it.)

      Also: I don’t understand how some people leaving one game’s e-sports scene to play another game equates to the death of e-sports, but I’ve never really understood e-sports to begin with.

  7. Gap Gen says:

    I bounced off SC2, not being much of a micro person, but then the same was true of being ganked in WC3 back in the day. I loved playing Starcraft against friends, but I prefer games that give me time to think and focus on problems and tactics; I can’t micro and don’t have the patience for learning build orders and stats.

  8. Shakermaker says:

    Thanks for explaining all the SC2 drama in a way I can understand. I saw the topics on reddit but didn’t understand what they were about nor their implications.

    • neurosisxeno says:

      It glosses over a lot of facts. Basically, SlayerS was being blackmailed for competing in NASL by the ESF–this lead to them fighting an uphill battle and eventually disbanding. ESF is a federation of top teams in the competitive SC2 scene, they were basically created exclusively to prevent KeSPA from strong-arming its way into SC2. SlayerS competed in NASL after boycotting it with the rest of the teams the previous year, because nobody had really told them it was still ongoing. When I say they were being blackmailed I mean teams were telling their top tier players they would be punished for practicing and playing matches with SlayerS players, which made it near impossible for them to practice for big events. ESF’s chairmen has since resigned and apologized to the community and the former SlayerS organization.

      SlayerS also had an issue with one of their players (MMA) being a huge douchebag and bringing down team morale and making everyone in their organization and at the SlayerS house feel terrible all the time. MMA is one of the best players in SC2 and was contractually bound, but rather than work things out with SlayerS decided to just be an idiot and passive aggressively torture his teamates. He has one of the most generous contracts in eSports, and played for one of the most understanding and well liked teams in eSports, and likened his job to Slavery.

      Then there was the manager they brought in that was contacting sponsors and telling them about all this horrible things going on with SlayerS that were blatant lies, and resulted in a ton of sponsors dropping support for the team. It was all in all just a really unfortunate turn of events since SlayerS was a great organization.

      There was also the thing with Stephano where he messaged one of his friends who happened to be streaming telling a joke about how he slept with a 14 year old (which is legal in France where he comes from–but still kind of shiesty). A group from the subreddit “ShitRedditSays” an extremist group of Feminists took the fact that even after an apology people liked Stephano as prove that the SC2 community openly supports pedophilia and sex with underage girls. They started massive mailing campaigns to EG’s sponors and eventually under pressure EG issued him a 1 month suspension (during a time frame where there are a lot of tournaments) and he issued a bunch of apologies.

  9. miscz says:

    Correction, GSL Code S finals are best of 7.

  10. Hirmetrium says:

    I love that somebody can actually come out and call Blizzard on the crappy job they have done supporting the game and be listened to. Blizzard are a Dinosaur in the e-sports world, and partly in the development world too. Why are there so few journalists looking into this?

    They seem like they are staggering through, citing “getting things right” constantly. Well, after Diablo 3 it should be painfully obvious they are NOT getting things right. Yes they have worked hard, yes they put a lot of time, effort and money in. But I can’t shake the feeling it is all mismanaged, and that the dark hand of Activision is constantly pulling the carpet out from under them, getting them to change direction.

    It’s a sad comparison of the the Blizzard before WOW and after WOW. It’s like all that money went to their heads, even more so.

    I want to see Starcraft 2 rise again. I was expecting Heart of the Swarm to do that – but so far, all I’ve heard is that my favourite race has lost their one new unit. I call that a bummer, and it doesn’t sell the game to me. Diablo 3 is already dead, the amount of grinding for any decent gear required a far gone dream. It also doesn’t help that all the classes are boring the combat doesn’t have any skill – it is all dependent on gear.

    • WedgeJAntilles says:

      “One new unit” Huh? Even without the Warhound, Terran is still getting two new units (Hellbats and Widow mines) so I don’t know what you’re even talking about.

      • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

        Oh wow, only $50 and a couple years for two new units? Why won’t the money go into the screen??!?

        • neurosisxeno says:

          He said only Terran, there are 3 races. All in all I think there’s something like 10 new units. There’s also a whole new campaing which should run 8-12 hours in play time, and if it’s even remotely like WoL will offer a lot in terms of replay value. The game will be worth it. You’re going to keep bashing it because this is the comment section of RPS–where everyone hates successful companies, especially Blizzard and Valve those sell outs.

  11. caddyB says:

    Ladderitis is what’s wrong with Starcraft II indeed. If my rank is on the line ( and I was on plat in the first season, never played after that ) why would I want to play the game when I’m not feeling well?

    It’s like a roguelike, or for a more recent example Classic Ironman XCOM. It’s something you just don’t want to do when you’re sleepy,tired,in a bad mood,intoxicated or if you just want to screw around. The main game mode ( which is ladder ) punishes you for the mistakes so much that most of the player base aren’t even playing anymore because they don’t want to lose.

    It is a hardcore player’s dream of course, but as Destiny ( who is a great player ) pointed out, you don’t make an esport scene if you don’t have masses to cheer for the pros.

    • MrLebanon says:

      I think Ironman classic is the best when you are intoxicated xD

    • WedgeJAntilles says:

      HotS has added unranked matchmaking (it’s already available in the beta); I still think it’s two and a half years late, but it’s a welcome addition nonetheless.

    • lasikbear says:

      Drunk is about the only way I ever get the courage to play SC2. Having worked hard to achieve mid-high bronze status, the only way I feel comfortable risking it is after a few drinks.

      I don’t mind hurting my rating (especially because it is terrible) my main problem is the general feeling that “Ladder” means “super serious competitive mode” and I can barley manage just building things, let alone also using my units to do anything.

    • Moraven says:

      Not like you have the choice of creating or joining a custom game/melee. The difference is the interface.

      SC2 simply creates a lobby for you or you join a current lobby for that map. You are basically skipping the part of seeing a game channel menu and 50 different game types. Ladder matchmaking is easier to access and I imagine quicker. People think custom games is just with friends, but it will match you up with a open game.

      Again, SC2 has the same options as he described as did BW, but with a interface change (and not having to skim through 50 game modes and maps you do not want to play and half the games being in Korean text.)

  12. cyrenic says:

    “On Wednesday, October 17th, the Fates seemed to be conspiring to kill e-sports.”

    Equating Starcraft 2 as e-sports comes across as a bit biased towards a single game. That statement seems even sillier when League of Legends put up historic numbers for their Season 2 Championship on October 13th, breaking new ground for e-sports.

    Starcraft 2 seems to be diminishing at this point, and that’s ok. Companies that actually know how to focus on e-sports (Riot and Valve, for example), will keep e-sports growing.

    • Mr Chug says:

      This, absolutely this. Riot clocked over 1.1 million concurrent viewers for the LoL Season 2 championships (breaking the previous record of 567000 set by DOTA2’s international 2 months ago) and had over 8 million unique viewers worldwide across the tournament- that’s approaching traditional sport viewers. The champions took home a million dollars between them.

      I enjoy these columns as a look into the Starcraft 2 scene, but token mention of arguably the biggest event in the history of eSports so far seems tunnel vision in the extreme for an eSports column.

      • DK says:

        Two Million Dollars actually. The winners got a cool million, and the rest of the pool also adds up to a million. The coming Season is going to go quite a lot higher too – Pro Players from all around the World will get salaries and play weekly on Riots dime. All of streamed in HD, for free.

        Compare that to Valve who wants people to pay several Euros just so you can watch a tournament in their client…

        • borso says:

          I’m not too happy about paying money for watching pro matches either, but you should now that most of this money goes to the teams. (So you support esports) I’m sure Valve has its share, but it’s a free game so they have to earn money somehow. It’s way better than releasing OP heroes every two weeks, and then nerf them after people bought them. I always hated this when I were playing LOL.

          • Jengaman says:

            i Still think its a miracle that lol has gotten so big, i really think that lols e sports coverage kinda sucks. I’m sick of the same 4 commentators that suck. Starcraft Matches are like 1000 times more interesting to watch and I don’t even play it. And Lols has so many particle effects it’s harder to follow.

          • neurosisxeno says:

            Valve’s tickets to watch events go largely to the events themselves to allow them to bring in better broadcasters and offer higher quality streams. There are some events where I don’t mind paying (basically if it’s under $5 and I don’t work on the days it’s happening) and some I just won’t (G-1 costing $8 is a bit steep since matches start at 3am EST). I think what Valve did with the Pennant Sales for TI2 was really interesting–allowing fans to buy in-game items representing the teams they like and giving a huge portion of the sales (I think they may have even said the entirety of each sale) to the teams themselves so they can pay the players more is amazing.

            Some concerning realties about LoL though. It claims to have 32m active accounts. DotA2 claims to have 2m active accounts (as of last week, sales of Beta Invites definitely went up after TI2). TI2 had 570-600k peak viewers. The LoL WC had about 1m peak viewers. How is a game with 16x the playerbase so far behind in viewership? I understand that not everyone cares about big eSports tournaments, but if LoL has 16x as many players as DotA2, why are their events only drawing in twice as many people as DotA2?

        • joooooooooe says:

          Being able to view it in the client is great. If you want to watch a specific player or lane, as well as a first-person view of how they play, it’s very useful. And you have it archived to watch it any time.

          And if you don’t want to pay to view in the client, go find a caster and watch their stream or their archives for free.

          In the mean time, LoL still doesn’t have replays unless you use a third-party program.

          Disclaimer: I play both and enjoy both, both games have their strengths and weaknesses. I usually play whichever game has more of my friends online at the time.

    • glocks4interns says:


      SC2 struggling doesn’t mean esports are struggling. No one proclaims the downfall of professional sports when the NFL refs go on strike.

  13. Nallen says:

    Was a bit sad to that while LoL had over 200,000 stream viewers people in the most popular SC2 Twitch channel were saying things like ‘SC2 has 50,000 viewers and that’s just two people playing!”

    Get over it, LoL is many times larger than SC2. (I’ve never played LoL and I’ve played 2500+ games of SC2 btw).

  14. pupsikaso says:

    There’s more acronyms in this article than on your average 4chan thread o.O

  15. pupsikaso says:

    What the guy describes on Reddit I completely agree with. I was so shocked and bemused that when I bought SC2 I couldn’t just “simply play” a multiplayer game. I was forced to play ranked matches. In fact the very first thing I was forced to play “placement” matches.

    Wtf is that crap? I may enjoy watching some good players playing against each other for money from time to time, but I don’t want to compete MYSELF. I want to JUST PLAY. And whenever I mentioned this to any one else I knew that bought SC2 they just laughed at me and called me noob or whatever. One guy that has NEVER even played any RTS games before SC2 doesn’t even understand the notion that a game doesn’t have to be this competitive thing with mandatory ladder participation.

    But then the author of that reddit article goes on to say how LoL and DoTA2 get it right, and I don’t see how that is. The last time I’ve played LoL (2 years ago, admittedly,) it was the same as SC2. Yes, you could play unranked matches, but that was not normal. You were expected to compete if you wanted to play the game. And that turned me off completely.

    • stillunverified says:

      You can’t even play Ranked in LoL until level 30, which takes a long ass time.
      And I find the statement extra humorous considering unranked matches are CALLED “Normal”.

      • MattM says:

        Normal matches in LOL have hidden rank. If you are doing well you will gain rank and be matched with better players until you reach your own level of incompetence and have a 50% win chance. Expect lots of complaining and insults every time you lose a lane. If you win your lane but lose the game, expect lots of whining about lack of jungler support or BS OP champs.

        Its probably a good thing to keep the better players segregated from the worse ones, even in normal matches, but I miss the reward of random matching. In SC or TF2 the better I got the higher my win rate, in LOL my win rates is pretty much always about 55% and I just get harder matches.

    • Moraven says:

      I have played LoL since release and before earlier this year I had only played 10 ranked matches (for a free skin). I have played a few now but my 800 games are 99% Normal games. I play for fun.

      Also, you have the ability to select custom game, pick a map, Join or Create in SC2. I think the 1 button and home screen access people found it easier to do that to get a game going. BW you hit join and had to filter through a lot of maps you did not wish to play. War3 was the same way.

  16. somberlain says:

    Hey RPS, you cover Starcraft 2 finals, talk about DOTA 2 and it’s third season – Where is Leauge of Legends article about their world finals? About the fact that they had more than 8 million people watching the games? it’s the most watched and played PC game in the world and you barely talk about it….just wondering…..

    • Botoks says:

      DOTA 2 doesn’t have seasons. It’s just a next season from one of multiple leagues/tournaments (Starladder in this case).

      I don’t know about RPS but the less LoL is mentioned the better. LoL and Riot aren’t very popular among other esports scenes for many valid reasons (which you can find on the interwebz and I won’t mention here) and it being a premiere esports is kind of a bad thing (which I won’t elaborate on either as you can find all the info yourself).

      • cyrenic says:

        I’d actually be interested in related links. I’ve only heard vague things about Riot being crappy to other e-sport games, and searching for something that specific is difficult.

  17. biz says:

    Not sure what they can actually do about it. For 99% of players, SC2 is a game where the winner is the guy who builds fastest and micromanages well enough. When both players are equally good at that, only then is there some actual strategy (very rare event). And I really mean equally good – even a bit more speed results in huge advantages.

    In LOL, the micromanagement is the reason people play AND the skill differentiator. That alone makes a huge difference because people improve by mastering the element that they’re actually interested in. It also helps that it’s team-based, so very minor skill differences don’t result in some exponentially different economies.

    Still, it ultimately comes down to simpler games being more popular. LOL has like 10 million daily players. SC2 has maybe 50,000 (I’d love to know the actual number).

    It’s the same reason why CS got popular and Quake didn’t. Simpler gameplay is just more attractive. Quake is really a strategy game (the best semi-popular RTS around), if the aiming skills are roughly equal.

    But I think a game like Quake really is simple enough to attract casuals and let them gradually become competent. id hasn’t succeeded at it, but it’s possible for it to happen.

    Starcraft can never do that until they get away from the model where faster builds = exponential advantages. It’s a flaw with all traditional RTS games… not just SC2. Comebacks are impossible and it’s so easy to win once you get a slight advantage.

  18. Radiant says:

    Dear esports illuminati
    There are other pc games played competitively other than dota 2, lol and starcraft 2.

  19. smoochie says:

    “World’s most well-loved RTS”… but not the most popular. Er — how does that compute? I think your bias toward SC2 as the be-all of eSports is a bit outdated, or at least, your data is.

    The dissolution of a major Starcraft team hardly heralds the demise of eSports in 2012. Maybe this would have been the case back in 2002, but times have changed. I think you need to start viewing the sport through a more up-to-date lens; and you’d do well to recall that just a few days earlier earlier, we had ample proof that eSports had never been healthier.