They’re all here to watch professional gaming teams battle it out in the North American regional finals in League of Legends, a PC action-strategy game that has exploded in the competitive video gaming scene over the past year. The tournament’s winning team will take home $40,000 and a trip to the World Championship in October, where the victor will net $2 million and international fame.
In the last year or so, though, eSports has undergone a sudden exponential growth. The Major League Gaming Spring Championship in June (which featured tournaments in four high-profile games like Starcraft II and Mortal Kombat) attracted 4.7 million online viewers over three days in June, peaking at 437,000 concurrent viewers. That’s substantially more than all of their 2011 events combined. Over 2.2 million viewers tuned in to Ustream internet broadcast of the 2011 EVO fighting game championships from a packed ballroom in Las Vegas.