ILWACO — Two times each week, a group of Ilwaco High School students meet up after school to practice. Their sport? Competitive video gaming, known globally as esports.
Esports has caught fire in recent years, and tournaments aired regularly on ESPN — the self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader in Sports” — last spring and summer, when the covid-19 pandemic put a screeching halt to the seasons of traditional sports, such as basketball, hockey, baseball and soccer.
The sport’s most lucrative tournament in 2012, “The International,” offered a grand prize of $1 million to the winning Dota 2 team, and an overall prize pool of $1.6 million. By 2019, the grand prize had shot up to nearly $16 million, with the overall purse north of $34 million — nearly tripling, for reference, the biggest overall prize in golf that year, the $12.5 million at the 2019 Players Championship.