ESPN Airs Video Games, Twitter Freaks Out

ESPN Airs Video Games, Twitter Freaks Out

Tonight on ESPN 2, sports fans across the world were treated not to the NBA playoffs or the burgeoning baseball season, but to live footage of college students playing Heroes of the Storm.

Yep, thanks to a partnership with Blizzard, the flashy MOBA — Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, a genre that also includes the world’s most popular game, League of Legends — got a solid 2+ hours of air time on national television, complete with a live audience and professional eSports commentators. While Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller called the Rockets/Mavericks game on TNT, Artosis and Day9 called the Heroes of the Storm game on ESPN 2.

The stakes are real, of course — this is part of a Blizzard-sponsored tournament called Heroes of the Dorm, and the winning team will snag themselves full scholarships for the rest of their time in college.

As you might expect, a whole lot of people flipped out over this. Reactions to the tournament — which, thanks to the nature of MOBAs, was rather inaccessible to people not familiar with the game — were incredible, ranging from salty to hilarious. “ESPN 2” trended on Twitter for a few hours, too, and scanning through the reactions is really entertaining. Because this is ridiculous.

Here’s a sampling of some of my favourite tweets about tonight’s festivities:

My personal favourite:

And of course there’s plenty of salt:

ESPN analyst Michelle Beadle probably had the best tweets of the night:

You’ve gotta wonder: wouldn’t ESPN 2 be better served to show a more accessible eSport for casual audiences, like, say, Smash Bros., or Halo? Of course, Nintendo and Microsoft aren’t dishing out cash like Blizzard is. And hey, it’s pretty damn cool to see video games on national TV.


  • Classic real sports vs esports drama. Always fun to watch the reactions to it.

    It’s just funny to think that people turn on the TV and have no clue what any of the casters are talking about, have no clue what any of those flashing colours mean and have no idea what any rules of this game are.

    I mean MOBAs take so much effort and reading to learn that even normal gamers have trouble trying to get into it. I’m not surprised some people are reacting negatively to not only ‘not sports’ on TV but a ‘not sports’ that they have no way of understanding.

    Reminds me of the Newbie stream in the last TI for Dota 2. Super informative super helpful. Wonder if that was streamed on TV, should it help to alleviate the insane amount of information required to understand the game.

    • To be fair when American Football is on TV It seems completely incomprehensible to me.

      Why are they stopping the game every 10 seconds?

      • No different than watching any sport without knowing the rules. Cricket commentary is just as bad…. and it’s even slower to watch.

        Don’t know golfing terminology? Don’t watch golf then.
        How bout cars? Do you know your F1 well enough to follow along?

        Hell, even if they showed Smash Bros I probably wouldn’t be able to follow along since I don’t play it and don’t know most of the new characters or any of the abilities.

    • It’s like me watching any “real” sport.
      P.S. I wonder how many of these dudes, throwing the word nerd around, play every CoD and Madden and Fifa?

  • Counter Strike, any and all the MOBAs and a handful of other games really translate well into tv entertainment, especially with good commentary.

  • It’s always amusing to see the cultural elite in their natural habitat. One can pick up a whiff of their snobbery from across their hive that is the social media spectrum.

  • Can’t wait till we see the zaibatsu & maxiumum dood on tv, the rest of the world will know how they operate with their attitudes towards every game (except blazblu), feel their wrath

  • It’s like sticking a football fan into a soccer game. They would hate it. They don’t understand how it works. It’s the same situation here. They don’t know what is even happening so they are whinging. (IMO)

    Or it’s because they still think games are for kids and sport is for manly men men. Or maybe they think the idea of someone taking a game that seriously is stupid.

  • Attach a good play by play caster and a knowledgeable analyst to the broadcast (which artosis and day9 certainly are) and even the most clueless person who spends a little bit of time watching will start to get what’s going on

    • i don’t know. I’ve watched a few video’s of MOBA’s and, since I don’t play any, I find them really really hard to decode. There’s just so much stuff going on, so many different things to track, and so many possible outcomes that I’m not versed in.

      Basically, I think if they were serious about bringing games into mainstream TV, they could have used a better game. But since that isn’t what they’re doing (essentially, this is an Ad for Blizzard), that’s not gonna happen.

      But I do think it’s only a matter of time before it is mainstream. It could take decades, but only a matter of time. Just look at how many people stream the tournaments, that’s gonna grab some tv exec’s attention eventually.

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