Yeah, ESPN’s done pretty well, all things considered. It’s too bad that ‘pretty well, all things considered’ is not good enough for some people.
A pseudonym wielding writer over at eSportsCenter.com has composed one of the most fantasically braindead thinkpieces you’ll ever read about ESPN’s entry into esports, ultimately prompting this post. You should read it if you’re looking for reading material that could inspire a bout of slamming your head into your desk. It’s that frustrating. Truth be told, I was a bit more melodramatic in a reddit comment on r/esports.
To contrast that pointless rant with a more reasonable rant, here’s four cool and dumb things about the current state of ESPN’s esports reporting.
Cool thing: esports on the ESPN navbar. It’s a thing.
Dumb thing: video highlight packages without commentary are a waste of time.
This dumb thing is short and sweet. It’s not difficult to understand. Video skimmed from a stream and posted to OddShot has more value than ESPN’s licensing of rights to repurpose video from tournament organizations. Fight me IRL if you disagree.
Speaking of video content…
Dumb thing: where is the quality video content?
When Yahoo Esports is outperforming you with regards to video production, quality and quantity, it’s time to seriously reconsider your approach. I had to scroll back a week to find a video with an ESPN staffer up front talking about something in esports among the plethora of highlight videos. There are at least three on-camera personalities that have been commenting on various esports for Yahoo–not to mention Yahoo seems to be asking the better questions. Now, one of those people at Yahoo is Travis Gafford, a known softball-throwing company-line-tower, but we won’t hold it against them. We will hold it against ESPN that they haven’t bothered to find a replacement to Slasher for video appearances.
Cool thing: reporting on more than the major esports.
Just because I (or anyone) consider a certain set of games as a ‘major esport’ compared to others doesn’t mean that the other games don’t deserve attention or reporting. While I’m still a know-nothing pleb with regards to the FGC in general, I think it’d be pretty rash to say that Street Fighter V is a major esport–or any of the Smash games for that matter. SFV’s roster will be expanding this year via DLC add-on characters. While players might not be spending money to play as these new additions, everyone is going to have to acquire them one way or another. That’s all to say that ESPN’s inclusive attitude to reporting on games is a healthy attitude to keep, especially when they’re attracting major talent contributing as freelance writers and are allowing them to write lengthy pieces on things that matter to that particular esport’s meta.