The 101: Athletes of the Electronic Age


Brandon Scott, Online Editor

Every issue, the staff of The Beacon’s Arts & Entertainment section indulge their vanity and give a thoroughly biased crash-course in whatever madness happens to be dwelling in their warped minds. Their views do not reflect those of The Beacon, its staff or Wilkes University. Blah blah blah. This week, Brandon Scott is bandaging up his blistered thumbs alongside the…

Athletes of the Electronic Age

By the time you read this article, an amazing competition will already have happened over the weekend. A competition where athletes have trained together in teams with their eyes on the top prize. And by the time you read this article, a victor will have been chosen, showered in applause, cheers and, of course, money.

What competition was this?

Why, it was the IEM (Intel Extreme Masters) tournament that took place in Sao Paulo, Brazil, of course! What? You mean you’ve never heard of it? You thought maybe I was referring to the Super Bowl? Come on now.

The IEM tournament is a competition hosted by Intel, (you know, those guys who create computer chips so that your computer works) for the world’s best competitive gaming teams in the games “Starcraft 2” and “League of Legends.”

“That’s neat,” you might say.  “Recognition for professional gamers once a year is awesome.” But it has become much, much more than that. For example, this IEM tournament is only a qualifier for the final tournament coming up in March. But the stakes are still high; this qualifier has a total prize pool of more than $50,000.

Unimpressed? Well, how ‘bout this: A few months ago on Oct. 13, 2012, the League of Legends Season 2 World Championship match was played with a best three out of five matches. The total prize pool on the line?  $2 million.

You read that right: A two and six zeroes. Two million. Like what you’d earn if you won “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” twice.

Professional gaming isn’t a joke anymore, and it is taken very seriously by the game designers at Blizzard (“Starcraft,” “Diablo,” “World of Warcraft”) and Riot Games (“League of Legends”).

Still think this is a bit crazy?

Gamers within the competitive community discuss strategies and ways of improving game play, and also host scrimmage matches to test and improve team coordination and playing ability. They bring up game balance with the developers, who in turn, respond back and discuss what may be balanced or unbalanced in their game to create the most diverse and interesting playing field for its competitors. The game grows and evolves, making matches more interesting to watch as professionals break down walls with new strategies.

Surely, though, this is just small hype in the “gamer universe,” right?

Viewership for these tournament matches can reach into the millions, bringing it up to par or even past nationally recognized sports like baseball. Regular players host live video streams of themselves playing the games accompanied by commentary or  even just music and, in doing so, have developed avid followings online.

Some “streamers” have even become so popular that they now work for the companies behind the same games they were streaming.

Live tournaments even have announcers who keep an updated tab on what is happening and what could happen next in the game, so as to keep viewers on their toes as the game unfolds. Just like, ahem, “real” sports.

“OK, I get it. They’re popular, but I really doubt they will ever get a national on-screen presence.” So says you, presumably doubtful reader. Nevertheless, the future seems bright for eSports. Riot Games is working alongside competitive gamers to make season three of their game the best yet for the eSports scene. Blizzard is doing the same and working together with competitive gamers to develop a tighter and more interesting eSports scene for their own games. Even Forbes Magazine believes that by the year 2020 we could be seeing eSports in our summer Olympic games.

Is it a stretch? Maybe. Have eSports been growing more and more every year? Definitely.  And if there’s money and company support for a competitive scene, you can be sure they are going to push for prime time. Bet on it.


Now that you’ve acquainted with yourself with the wide, weird world of competitive video gamers, brush up on some of the need-to-know eSports lingo so you can better blend in with these athletes of the electronic age if you ever find yourself in the middle of an all-night “Crash Bandicoot” tournaments…


GG stands for “Good Game.” Its often typed on screen from both teams after a match as a sign of sportsmanship. Not typing it isn’t necessarily considered rude, but it does look somewhat bad if you don’t use it.

And similar to GG is…


GLHF stands for “Good luck, have fun.” It’s used at the beginning of each game and, while not necessarily always said, it does set the tone for the current game and generally helps lessen any tense moments between teammates that may happen in the game.


APM stands for Actions Per Minute. This is a type of measurement used to see how many buttons a player is pressing in a minute. This is really only used in “RTS” or real-time strategy games such as Starcraft 2. You might think to yourself “… and this is important why?” Well, in general, it isn’t. But if a player tries to improve his or her APM, then they’re probably going to be better at micro-management.

“Micro … what … ?”


Competitive gaming requires you to be able to respond to any type of current or foreseeable threat you may encounter. It also requires you to manage multiple things at once and manage them efficiently.  In gamer terms, this is called micro-management, and is usually the reason you might see someone repeatedly clicking their mouse like it’s their only life purpose. To play skillfully, it’s incredibly important to become good at micro-management.


Back-door, also known as back-dooring, is the concept of striking your enemy from behind (giggity). It’s an often looked-down-upon action but can be very effective when the moment calls for it.

Zerg Rush

This term started in Starcraft, and has become popular across more than just games. To clarify, “The Zerg” are a mutant alien race in the game Starcraft. Playing them allows you to create massive armies very quickly to use against your enemy, often before they can get a solid base defense up.

The Zerg’s easiest unit to create is called the “zergling.” Against less skilled players, a Zerg player can create mass quantities of these zerglings and “zerg rush” the enemy before the enemy has any sort of defense up in his base. Because of the popularity of the game and the unit, the term “zerg rush” has come to be applied to any situation in which you quickly and endlessly attack anybody with mass quantities of units.

Shoutcasting / Streaming

Shoutcasting is when people spectate games and talk about everything that is going on, or what might be going on in the players’ heads. They can be very entertaining depending on the person shoutcasting. Streaming on the other hand, is when a person is playing the game, and  allows anybody to view their game as they play. Typically the streamer also has a webcam on their face so they can talk and react to what’s happening. This has lead to some internet-gaming celebrities because of the antics that ensue.