With pro-gaming becoming more and more mainstream with traditional sports networks like ESPN broadcasting esports, it’s understandable that people would be shocked by its popularity. That includes folks like UFC commentator and podcast host Joe Rogan.
During the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Quake creator John Carmack said he was impressed with the state of esports today with big prize pools, tournaments, organizations and leagues.
“I remember when we did the Quake Red Annihilation tournament. I gave away my first Ferrari as a grand prize,” Carmack said. “And I was thinking this is just the most over-the-top thing thing. This is going to be unmatched for years.” (Timestamp 1:33 for mobile viewers)
“It was only a year later that there was some other tournament with a $100,000 prize coming out. So, that went on much quicker than I expected and today you have the amazing celebrity of the top pro players. It’s great to see the path that it’s taken.”
Pro gamers, both retired and active are definitely quite like celebrities or athletes in the sports world. Former Overwatch League pro Felix ‘xQc’ Lengyel routinely streams to over 20,000 people on Twitch.
“It’s interesting to see they’re now like legitimate sports stars and they make a tonne of money,” the former Fear Factor host chimed in. “Whereas if you were a kid 10 or 15 years ago, your parents would tell you that you’re wasting your time. ‘This is nonsense. Why you playing these games’. But now you have a legitimate opportunity to be a professional game player.”
But Rogan had no idea what he was about to see put before his eyes. A graphic tweeted by Slasher showed the top-earning esports this year. As he soon learned, 16-year-old Fortnite World Cup winner Kyle 'Bugha' Giersdorf won more than Tiger Woods and the DOTA TI champions took home over $3 million each.
it pays to play video games
esports is love, esports is life pic.twitter.com/g6qt2nJDg1
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) August 25, 2019
“What’s DOTA?” a shocked Rogan asked. “I never even heard of it.”
“It’s a Valve game,” Carmack answered and proceeded to explain the concept to the podcast host.
“People think oh The Super Bowl. The height of all competitive sports or whatever. A lot of these esports games, especially in South Korea dwarf these numbers,” the game creator continued.
Rogan then saw a photo of the DOTA The International from 2016 and had his mind blown. “That looks like 30,000 people! That looks like a UFC event.”
“A lot bigger than UFC events,” the Quake creator teased, knowing Rogan’s work with the UFC.
To his credit, Rogan was very accepting of esports growth and seemed to welcome it unlike so-called "boomers" who tweet about video games being shown on their TV.