My Evolving Relationship with Sports of the “e” Variety and Otherwise

Heroes of the Dorm LiveThe Heroes of the Dorm finals are in just a few weeks, and I’m locking down my plans to attend the live event. Now I know what you’re thinking – “but Isarii, you’ve only written one thing about eSports and that basically amounted to ‘please stop putting it in my MMOs!'”  Well, you’re not wrong.

I don’t particularly care about eSports. It’s not that I have anything against them as a type of sport as much as I just historically haven’t given a damn about sports of any variety. Then add on that eSports are in the unenviable position of being heavily associated with the League of Legends community, and what you get is the unholy love child of two of the biggest things in entertainment that I want absolutely nothing to do with.

eSports Branding

The optics of a bunch of extremely serious nerds branded up like Nascar drivers isn’t helping either.

I’ve never been completely disinterested in actual sports, though. I actually have dual-citizenship with Brazil through my mother, which imbues me with at least some level of genetic loyalty to soccer. It’s like being one of those Catholics who only show up for Christmas and Easter mass, only my personal clarion call brings me out for world cups instead. Then I moved to Cascadia.

Portland is a weird place. This isn’t really news to anyone – if anything, it’s become the unintended unofficial marketing slogan for the city -, but in the case of soccer, it’s especially true. We think of soccer here much in the same way the rest of the country thinks about American Pointyball, or whatever your preferred pejorative is for the sport in which we join together to watch our country’s youth give each other permanent brain damage in between an agonizing amount of commercial breaks. Unsurprisingly, moving to the one corner of the country that cares about the sport I actually have an interest in did wonders for my sports engagement.

Also affected: the scarves per square foot of my house.

Also affected: the scarves per square foot of my house.

So I started following our local MLS team, the Portland Timbers. The next season (2015), we went on to become the first Cascadian team to win the MLS cup, beating out our regional rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders. I was lucky enough to make it to every one of our home playoff games, including one the official MLS website acknowledges as possibly being the greatest match in the league’s history.

The game featured a late equalizer sending the teams to an overtime that saw one goal scored by each team. Tied again, the Portland Timbers and Sporting Kansas City headed into the longest penalty shooutout ever in the MLS playoffs, in which 22 players, concluding with the keepers, fought through sudden death conditions before the Timbers finally won [YouTube].

The stress at this match took years off my life, but it was all worth it. If you watch nothing else, just look at this absolute insanity. If this shot had gone in, the Timbers would have been eliminated from play for the rest of the season. Instead, we went on to win it all.

SKC Double Post

Those two guys hugging in disbelief exemplify what we all felt.

There’s nothing quite like the stadium environment at a soccer game. Unlike most other sports, the players don’t take breaks, and the fans don’t either. The Timbers Army – our supporter group – stands and chants for the entire game, and in a game as intense as our playoff against SKC, the absolutely deafening crowd can be heard from several blocks away.

This intensity is true of most live events, I would say. Whether you’re at a concert, or a parade, or a sporting event, there’s just something special about being surrounded by hundreds or thousands of people who are really into the thing you all showed up to see.

Major League Boring

Except for Baseball, which is objectively terrible no matter how many people you drag to the event.

And that’s why I’m headed up to Seattle to give eSports a shot. If I’m ever going to find it interesting, it’s going to be surrounded by my fellow nerds at Century Link stadium. While I’m no expert, I’ve played Heroes of the Storm off and on since its alpha, so I’ll at least have some working knowledge of what’s going on in front of me.

Plus, you know, it’s an excuse to tour some breweries and connect with internet-people while I’m up there. Hit up my contact form or the comments if you want to meet up or recommend me a brewery.

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