Remember when you were young and your best friend would come over and you’d play video games against each other, maybe Madden football?
Now pretend that you invited more friends over and kept playing until you figured out who the best player was.
And then, you could play against people from all over the world in all sorts of different video games and then you’d know who the best player in the world was.
Boom. You now understand what e-sports is all about. E-sports, or electronic sports, is played in large digital arenas on multiple online platforms.
Kansas City has positioned itself as a hub of e-sports with new arenas and teams. And, yes, you can even play fantasy e-sports.
E-sports in Kansas City
It’s hard to narrow down just how many e-sports teams there are because with every game there comes a new league and a new team.
It’s not like the Kansas City Chiefs can take their entire team and play in Major League Baseball too? I mean, Patrick Mahomes is good, but not that good.
So you wouldn’t expect your Fortnite team to be the same as your Rocket League team that’s the same as your Call of Duty team. Likewise, you’d have different leagues for the different games.
The Kansas City Monarchs E-Sports team plays in a 10,000-square-foot e-sport and production facility in Overland Park. It’s the largest in the Kansas and Missouri area.
It’s called LevelUp Arena and it’s more than a lot of HDMI cables and screens. There’s a bar and a restaurant with live music. It’s open six days a week.
They have game nights almost every night where you can sign up, show up with your controllers and play. They also have controllers there. Owner AbdulRasheed Yahaya said to Startland News:
“LevelUp creates a hub for champions to train, compete and create. This space will create professional gamers and e-sports professionals.”
The Kansas City Pioneers is another e-sports organization, not quite a franchise, that formed in 2019. They have a partnership with the data platform PLLAY labs to enhance fan engagement. PLLAY even spent time with the Chiefs in 2020 exchanging ideas and promoting their brand.
What about e-sports betting in Kansas?
Where there’s data, there’s gambling.
You may have put a few bucks on that Madden game against your friend 20 years ago. It was informal, but America is still undergoing a gambling boom and e-sports might be the next frontier.
While Missouri and Kansas state legislatures are racing — and sniping — at one another about passing sports betting bills, DraftKings already has an e-sports fantasy platform.
The way it works is simple. Sign up, make your deposit and start playing Call of Duty against other people. If you’re the last player standing, you win real money.
There are no official e-sports betting platforms where you could bet on the Pioneers to beat the LA Thieves (real name) or the Seattle Surge (real name), but give it time.
Since legal Kansas sports betting looks as if it could happen, e-sports betting could be a market available at the online sportsbooks in the state if approved by the Kansas Racing and Gaming Commission.
As a possible model, Colorado currently allows e-sports betting at the state’s various online sportsbooks.
E-sports games you need to know
Video games are no longer walking one way and jumping over obstacles. They are free-ranging with open fields and a wide array of options.
These are the most popular e-sports games:
- Rocket League: Think cars. Think soccer. Think of playing soccer while piloting a car.
- Fortnite: Three different versions, but this is be-the-last-player-not-killed out in the woods somewhere. The battle royal is my personal favorite. 100 players armed, try to be the last one standing.
- Halo: Science fiction. War. Space. Aliens. The bad guys are called The Covenant.
- Call of Duty: Soldier at War. Soldier fights in more wars. Soldier fights even more wars.
- Overwatch: Pick your team of six-shooters. They all have different abilities. Fight it out against another team of six.
What’s the future of e-sports?
Without a centralized league, it’s hard to know whether or not e-sports can ever really become as big as the NFL or NBA.
There is the MLG, that’s Major League Gaming, but again, with each game having different rules and needing different players, it’s a fractured picture. But thrown all together the number of players competing and number of fans rivals any professional sports league.
There are now colleges that offer e-sports teams and scholarships, among them are:
- Miami of Ohio
- Maryville in St. Louis
Kansas City is poised to capitalize on this generation of fans, laying down an infrastructure that could serve for years to come.
There’s even a Kansas City Corporate E-Sports Cup. Forget those days when corporations used to form teams to run in a 10K race, now it’s all about one company’s e-sports team against another. The winners receive awards and don’t have to sweat nearly as much.
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