eSports gaining steam in Scioto County

Complex eSports gamers play and converse during a recent tournament held on May 27.

Complex eSports gamers play Call of Day during a tournament held on May 27 in West Portsmouth.

For the upcoming generations who are approaching their teens and mid to late 20s, video games have always proven to be quite popular from a worldwide standpoint since the mid-90s, when Nintendo 64’s and Sony Playstation’s became available to buy.

Since the turn of the decade, however, video gaming has grown to incredible highs that many believed would never be possible in their lifetimes.

In fact, the technology around video gaming, in general, has grown so much that it has fellow gamers starting new trends and — in addition to those trends — businesses of their own with the systems and video games that are sold.

Complex eSports Manager Jordan Hyland, along with friend Tyler McGraw, a fellow manager, have started their own business through the eSports fad that has swept the nation. The pair put together tournaments that have brought members from eight states to West Portsmouth for eSports tournaments, Lock-In LAN Parties, and play-to-play systems.

For Hyland, putting together an eSports business with McGraw has been exceptionally rewarding.

“It’s something I never thought I would get into, honestly,” Hyland said. “I started by hosting small two-versus-two Call of Duty tournaments to give local kids something to do. Eventually that led us to hosting four-versus-four, which is the standard for the Call of Duty World League. At our latest event on May 27th, we had competitors come from Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Indiana, Chicago, and even Boston. It’s incredible how dedicated some of these people are, but even more incredible that they travel to Scioto County just to play a video game.”

eSports, which is one of the fastest growing phenomenons in not only the United States, but the entire world, is simply competitive video gaming and a form of sports “where the primary aspects of the sport are facilitated by electronic systems; the input of players and teams as well as the output of the eSports system are mediated by human-computer interfaces,” according to Emerald Insight.

The growth of the field has certainly swept the nation, especially when you consider how many people tune in to simply watch eSports competitions and tournaments. According to ESPN The Magazine’s June 22 story, which was titled “Resistance is futile: eSports is massive … and growing,” 89 million individuals tuned in to watch eSports events in 2014, 31 million more than the already astounding mark of 58 million in 2012.

As astonishing as those numbers are, consider this: a total of 27 million individuals watched the League of Legends Championship in 2013. That mark exceeded television viewership for both the 2013 NBA Finals and 2013 World Series by more than 10 million viewers.

As a result of an intensifying interest pool, the profit for eSports has grown with the interest, with total profit approaching nearly $700 million dollars at the end of last year. The eSports industry is widely expected to exceed $1 billion by the end of the decade.

Not surprisingly, his love for video games — and a growing desire to get involved in the eSports industry — got Hyland involved. The 2012 Portsmouth West High School graduate teamed up with fellow West graduate Tyler McGraw, who had recently opened his own card shop business inside The Complex — Tyler’s CCG — to form Complex eSports.

The business, which started in December of 2015, has grown to full-fledged four-versus-four eSports tournaments that have held individuals from Indiana, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee in addition to locals all around the Tri-State Area. Hyland and McGraw produce the monitors and PlayStation 4’s for the players to play on, and the competitors bring the copy of the game being played, along with the headsets and controllers, in order to effectively participate in the eSports events being held at The Complex.

At the eSports events, Hyland and McGraw have held tournaments featuring the Super Smash Brothers, Rocket League, Madden, FIFA, and NBA 2K video game series. The pair also plan to being hosting Counter-Strike tournaments due to the “big demand” for the game itself, according to Hyland.

“The process (of hosting tournaments) is very stressful because you are essentially doing two events in one,” Hyland said. “You have the tournament in the venue, but you also have the online production that you have to put together for people who can’t be there. In the end, it’s a very rewarding experience because you are providing a full day of entertainment for a lot of people.”

And at the end of the day, the enjoyment of playing video games with or against others is one of the main qualities that makes eSports as popular as it is.

“Most of the people playing in our events are passionate about what they do,” Hyland said. “Hearing them say they enjoyed playing here makes me feel really good.”

Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7