I think the concept of E-Sports has probably been on my radar for about 15 years or so, but mostly, I didn’t get it. Most of the early popular E-Sports games weren’t titles I knew anything about, or was really even all that interested in.
I vaguely remember watching some World of Warcraft arena play via the Blizzcon 2009 Virtual Ticket, and I was well & truly into playing arenas at the time, and I still felt meh about the whole thing. This was before Twitch was even a thing, and I never really gave it another thought.
Then, in 2016, I cut my MOBA teeth on Blizzards Heroes of the Storm, which I actually enjoyed playing for a bit, This made it a whole lot easier to persuade me to try out Smite when it was the flavor of the month for some of my friends from World of Warcraft.
I don’t think I actually paid much attention to the Smite Pro League, or SPL, until we had mostly lost interest in actually playing the game. But sometime during season 3 (2017), we watched a stream or two. And then we started watching it regularly. And then…
… and then, I started fangirling all over the place. I had favorite teams, and favorite players. I started watching regular player streams on Twitch, and followed players on Twitter. My husband and I even drove over 1000 miles each way to watch the 2019 World Championship last year at Dreamhack in Atlanta.
Honestly, if I had never played Smite, I don’t know how interesting it would be to watch, but even now, after being away from the game for far longer than I played it, I know enough of how it works to enjoy the experience of watching it. I still have my favorite players, and I am forever and always rooting for whatever team Variety plays for.
As someone who was never a fan of regular old sports, it feels weird to dedicate hours of my life to watching other people play games when I could be gaming myself, but I really do look forward to getting caught up on SPL every time the VODs go up on YouTube.