E-Sports Gamers: The New Athletes?

“Game tournaments sell out giant arenas… Madison Avenue’s highest fliers, like Coca-Cola and American Express, have lined up as sponsors. Prize money has soared to the millions of dollars, and top players earn six- or seven-figure incomes and attract big and passionate followings, luring a generation of younger players to seek fame and fortune as gamers…the State Department began granting visas to professional gamers, under the same program used by traditional athletes. This fall, Robert Morris University in Chicago will dole out over $500,000 in athletic scholarships to gamers, the first of their kind in the United States, and Ivy League universities have intercollegiate gaming.”- Nick Wingfield, The NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

A video game tournament in Seattle in July. Pro gaming, called e-sports, is becoming a lucrative worldwide spectator sport.Credit:Stuart Isett for The New York Times

A video game tournament in Seattle in July. Pro gaming, called e-sports, is becoming a lucrative worldwide spectator sport.Credit:Stuart Isett for The New York Times

Excerpt: In E-Sports,Video Gamers Draw Real Crowds and Big Money  By N. Wingfield-NYT

“A bewitching creature — half woman, half deer — battles a shaman and a sentient tree. Lightning bolts strike. Weapons explode. Nasty spells are cast. The video game Dota 2, like so many across the Internet, transports teams of players from their bedrooms to a verdant virtual world where they smite each other through keyboard and mouse clicks. Except on this sunny day in July, every attack and counterattack by a five-person team set off an eruption of cheers — from the more than 11,000 spectators crammed into this city’s basketball arena. The contestants were gunning for a big piece of the $11 million in total prize money, the most ever at a games tournament.

Top players earn six- or seven-figure incomes.  Photo credit- MindSports International

Top players earn six- or seven-figure incomes. Photo credit- MindSports International

And the game’s developer, the Valve Corporation, moved another step closer to securing gaming’s legitimacy as a major-league spectator sport. Having already upended the entertainment world — global revenue for games is $20 billion higher than the music industry’s and is chasing that of the movie business — the games industry has turned its ambitions toward the lucrative world of professional video game competition, widely known as e-sports…At the Seattle event, cheering fans, many dressed in costumes to look like game characters, hoisted national flags to show support for their favorite teams. Commentators, known as casters, offered play-by-play.

Photo credit- Zimbio

Photo credit- Zimbio

Confetti rocketed into the crowd when the winners were crowned…The most fanatical gamers can spend an almost limitless amount of money on virtual goods in free-to-play games, buying special powers or tools, for example. But the vast majority of players never spend a penny in them, and the games have developed huge followings as a result. League of Legends has 67 million monthly players, about the combined population of California and Texas.” Read more.September 11, 01 memorial

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours. 

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video clip.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing. 

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 PredictionsAnalyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article.  

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic.

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic.



II. While Reading Tasks

Vocabulary: Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart by Freeology for assistance. 

  1. A bewitching creature — half woman, half deer — battles a shaman.
  2. The video game Dota 2, transports teams of players to a verdant virtual world.
  3. Top players earn six- or seven-figure incomes luring a generation of younger players to seek fame and fortune as gamers.
  4. The State Department began granting visas to professional gamers.
  5. A championship tournament streamed around the world attracting 8.5 million simultaneous online viewers.
  6.  Game publishers host events seeing irresistible opportunities to promote their games.
  7. Graham, an e-sports commentator and former professional gamer who now works for Twitch.
  8. The roots of e-sports trace to the 1990s with the advent of fighting and shooter games.
  9. Deeper public interest in competitive gaming materialized in the early 2000s.
  10. The most fanatical gamers can spend an almost limitless amount of money on virtual goods.
Word Map Education Oasis.

Word Map Education Oasis.


Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word or phrase to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

  1. Weapons explore/explode.  Nasty spells are cast.
  2. The contestants were gunning/gaining for a big piece of the $11 million in total prize money.
  3. The signs of success/succeed already mirror the achievements of major sports.
  4. Game tournaments cell/sell out giant arenas, and some attract at-home audiences.
  5. Last year, the State Department began grunting/granting visas to professional gamers.
  6. Confetti rocketed into the crowd/crow when the winners were crowned.
  7. More than 70 million people/purple worldwide watch e-sports over the Internet or on TVs.
  8. This year, the League of Legends championship is expected to attack/attract 40,000 attendees.
  9. Fans roared whenever a tomb/team achieved a triple kill.
  10. The soundproof booths did not stand a chance against the roars/rows  from the crowd.

 Grammar Focus

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Have students choose a picture from this lesson and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives. 

For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

Directions: Students could use this  Topic/Concept/Theme organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main topic or theme of the article.Advanced Spider map By writedesignonline


Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

1. The following  statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each one, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group. 

“Game competitions have been around for decades, but what was happening at that arena in July would have been unthinkable, even laughable, only a few years ago. As broadband Internet access and free-to-play games have spread, gaming competitions have multiplied in size and frequency around the world, going beyond early strongholds like South Korea.”

“Even with the number of participants mushrooming, the Internet has forged a tighter link between fans and players than almost any other sport. Twitch, a website started in 2011, lets players stream video of their playing sessions over the Internet from PCs and consoles. More than 55 million people visited Twitch in July to watch and interact with one another. The site has also become a lucrative source of revenue for gamers, who can make money through a mix of advertisements, subscription fees and donations from viewers.”

“Gaming isn’t the kind of platform it was when we were kids…It’s a major mass media platform that now has multiple forms of consumption. The draw for marketers is the audience: mostly employed men, 18 to 35 years old, a group that has become harder to reach with conventional TV advertisements.  More marketing money leads to better production values, which in theory will lead to increased interest in gaming…And the more people who become interested in gaming, the more money there will be to spend on the games.”

2. In your opinion, will e-Sports ever become a major-league spectator sport like football in the United States? Provide reasons for your answers.

3. Are you a fan of (or do you play) video games? Why or why not?


Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about e-Sports from the reading,  two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class. 

IV. Listening Activity   

Video Clip:  In E-Sports, Video Gamers


Video Link


 While Listening Activities

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video.  As students listen to the video if  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer. 

  1. CLG returns  from 5-week boot camp in Korea.
  2. It was a  super slow week in e-sports.
  3. The biggest news in e-sports this week has nothing to do with the tournament.
  4. On Monday Twitch announced it was being bought by Google for nine hundred seventy million dollars.
  5. The deal means that Amazon snatched the video game streaming service from under the nose of YouTube.
  6. The sale means that the future of e-Sports is strong.
  7.  The team TF2 always had a hard time finding sponsors.
  8. The TF2 fans donated twenty dollars.
  9. There is a new team from Spain now competing.
  10. We have to wait another year to see if North America can retain its title.

Post-Listening Activities

Questions for Discussion

Directions: Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

  1. What new ideas have you learned from this video?
  2.  With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask the speakers or the gamers.

 ANSWER KEY: e-Sports

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