Soon after winning the “Super Bowl” of e-sports several weeks ago, Team Liquid, Jason Sugarman’s choice e-sports team, has run into some trouble. The Team quite recently had to replace a player, Peter “Stanislaw” Jarguz, with the newcomer Lucas “steel” Lopes. The replacement was unanticipated but stemmed from an internal dispute of how things should be run. These sorts of disputes are common among gamers but perhaps have not always been as well-known. After being ousted from Team Liquid, Lopes was approached by gaming media for his account, just like in a conventional game.
The ouster of Lopes, though not unusual, does speak to the bigger problem facing the e-sports industry—the formation of national teams. Devout gamers have been quite good at putting together teams that win big and raising awareness on e-sporting. Consider, for example, the massively successful rAge event this year, arranged by Kwese and VS Gaming. While these events are important, it’s no secret that e-sports have struggled to form national teams. For dedicated e-sports investors like Jason Sugarman, this is somewhat a disappointment.
Why National Teams are Important for E-Sports
E-sports are largely limited to local events at the moment. Usually, a group of people who may live close to each other puts together a team to attend events nearby. National teams, on the other hand, have the potential to uplift these local teams into the international arena. It’s not so different playing soccer on your street and playing at an international stadium. Players could go toe to toe with not just the best in the server, but the best in the world. E-sports can finally become a serious gaming event with national teams.
Having national teams could also boost the franchising potential of various e-sports teams. It would not be much different from having a team like LAFC, Manchester United, or the Red Sox. Who knows, maybe in the future e-sports national teams might even play at the Olympics.
Why Gamers have Trouble Putting Together National Teams
The issue is multifold. Various e-sports teams, including Team Liquid, win huge prizes and constantly demonstrate that e-sports is worth the bother. However, the general perception of the sector is still subject to various stereotypes. The average non-gamer does not take e-sports seriously and does not know that virtual games could be as professional as conventional games like soccer or football. As a result, e-sports teams may lack the support they should get from authorities responsible for forming national teams.
Some gamers are also not entirely comfortable with forming national teams. On the virtual plane, just about anyone can get together to play a game. Locations and boundaries usually blur when it comes to video games. As long as there’s an internet connection, players can get together regardless of whether they are located in America or China. With national teams, the industry risks politicization of the fun, similar to how athletics can get politicized by events like the Olympics.
Regardless of what one person thinks about national teams, playing at the national level can inarguably raise the standing of e-sports. The real question is whether teams would ever get there.
It is not impossible that, as young e-sports lovers get older, the games would eventually become national.