IEM San Jose

I played Pong.

I was a Pacmaniac. I loved Super Mario Bros. I owned a Turbografx16. I sank more quarters into Street Fighter arcade machines than I care to admit, and I am pretty sure Quake once made one of my eyes bleed. I am not the best gamer, but I would say I am one of the faithful, ancient ones. Even I surprised by E-Sports.

Don't get me wrong, I had waited my entire life for gaming to come into the spotlight. Growing up I didn't know a single gamer that hadn't dreamt of getting paid to game, or having fans because of it. I still never imagined this.

I was lucky enough to attend an ESL Intel Extreme Masters event recently.

A stadium full of big screens, bright lights, and fog machines. A demo floor filled with games. This was my heaven.

The cyber-athletes involved in these events are amazing. If you were expecting Geek Chic, you wouldn't be disappointed because there's plenty of that style in this crowd. However, these kids come from all walks of life and backgrounds... and don't underestimate them, when they saddle up behind a keyboard and a mouse, you are in for a show. Just like any other athlete, they will scream, cheer and sometimes shout in frustration.

The rest of the events are so just as visceral. The announcers are wound up, and the audience has a level of energy that is spiking nuclear. It's infectious.

In other sports, we wait all year for the draft. Each of these games begins with a draft. If you're in the crowd, you'll see players choose fan favorite champions alongside loud cheers. Sometimes it is to counter another team's draft. Other times just to win over the audience.

Then the game starts and a battlefield unfolds. An actual battlefield! Battlelines get drawn up as players push lanes. Sometimes hiding behind armies and often leading charges. They'll plan attacks, stage ambushes, steal kills and all the while plot away trying to figure out what item is going to give them enough of an edge to overwhelm their opponents. Is it time to attack? Should they stage an ambush? Who is in enemy territory right now? Charge that damn machine gun! Kill that *@#&ing dragon!

Except the machine guns are towers.

And the dragons are dragons.

The digital age birthed something majestic.

It is the child of electricity and rock n roll.

These players are rockstars for a digital age. Each of these matches hit with a level of excitement that will feel like Christmas when you were five years old.
You need to see this for yourself!

Watch one of these events. Just pick a color, red or blue. Then choose a team simply because you like their name, or figure out who your home team is and cheer. You'll taste the pop and excitement in these events that you will find an e-sports fan inside of yourself... Then you will agree,

you have waited your whole life for something like this.