Wow, what a year 2013 was, huh? What a year.
The year the sideshow almost took over the main event. The year we learned infamy doesn’t keep you happy or motivated, or keep you on a team. The year we learned large organisations can’t keep up their shady business dealings forever. The year we learned there are no consequences for making a pro player, who we love, feel like her home isn’t her home, even though she deserves to be here more than any of us. The year we learned problems that are bigger than us trickle down and affect our world in the most bizarre fashion.
I did say the sideshow almost took over the main event. Almost is the operative word. I know that because I am a female esports writer and I know words do things sometimes when they’re in sentences in certain places.
But seriously, though, this is why I esport - because no matter what your game, you all know that feeling.That feeling when you’re watching Blizzard’s WCS finals in Canada, and the units moving, it’s like they’re dancing - so precise and tactful and deliberate, but beautiful - or League of Legends Worlds, which filled the Staples Center, and rofl-stomp or no, you saw the heights esports could reach, and allowed you to dream about the future, or The International 3, where the roar of the crowd at the end of the final game sent chills through your nerd bones, or the CS:GO finals at Dreamhack, where even if you didn’t fully understand what was going on, you knew you were watching a rebirth of a franchise - when the hair on your arms stand on end when your heart quickens when you can’t stop smiling, sitting at your computer screen, when a feeling of pride flows through you because this world is yours.
My moment of 2013?
I stood watching ROOT players in the SC2 open bracket at MLG Anaheim. I was standing next to a mother watching her son play, who was wearing a ROOT shirt. I told her I worked for them and she told me an amazing story. She told me how her son looked up to all the ROOT players, watched them every night, donated, how he’d told her all about all the different players. She told me how he used to be sad and how being a fan of ROOT helped him and motivated him to change his life, how she would always support him in his love for competitive gaming no matter what, because she was so grateful it came into his life, because it made him a better person.
I went up to the press room to wipe away my tears.
This is bigger than we even realize. This world is beautiful and we are capable of so much.
I ain't saying we can change the world, that's not what I mean. But we talk about esports in such vague terms, you know? We don't think about the everyday people who make it tick. If people didn't watch esports, esports would be nothing.
The teenager staying up late without their parents knowing to watch their favorite team, the college kid taking a roadtrip with their buddies to an MLG or a Dreamhack, the parent who sits their baby on their knee at the computer while they watch their favorite game.
Isn't that amazing?
The bad moments from this year, the moments that show us in a not-so-nice light? We need to remember we can be better, and are better, every day. We’re at a critical part of this story and we are writing it together.
If esports were to be personified with the magic of science, it would be a child. Prone to tantrums, occasional lack of judgement, says stupid-ass shit sometimes because it doesn't know any better, but already having achieved more than one could ever have imagined, and full of limitless potential. Another year passes and we grow up that little bit more. It'll take time. People say we can't do it, and will continue to say we can't do it. But we will do it.
As one of my favorite poets says - if anyone shows us a ceiling, we show them sky.
Here’s to an incredible 2014. I know you’re with me.
I need a drink. This is why I esport.