It’s more than a video game…it’s ELEAGUE

ELEAGUE has tapped into one of the most passionate crowds. The emotional attachment is there amongst players and fans because followers know what it takes to be that good to get to ELEAGUE.

ELEAGUE, formed in partnership between Turner and IMG in 2016, is a premium esports content and tournament brand.  With a focus on innovative production capabilities, storytelling and exploring compelling narratives surrounding star teams and players, ELEAGUE has generated record levels of engagement with its content and positive reaction throughout the esports community.  ELEAGUE has helped TBS pick up millions of new viewers, with the network playing a key role in taking esports mainstream.

Ahead of the “Street Fighter V” playoffs which kick off this Friday, we talked with ELEAGUE analyst Steve “Tasty Steve” Scott about the growing interest in competitive video gaming.

Turner: ELEAGUE has a passionate fan base that is really unlike any other. What is it about ELEAGUE that inspires such loyal viewers and gamers?
Steve Scott: If you've been playing video games for the last five years, you know that video games are really starting to get even greater attention. Esports has become a big thing.

ELEAGUE has tapped into one of the most passionate crowds. Just like traditional sports, the emotional attachment is there amongst players and fans because followers know what it takes to be that good to get to ELEAGUE. Now that we’ve shifted from just being online to being on TV (through TBS), more people are starting to see the skill and focus required to compete. It's kind of like when you see people play sports. You know it takes a lot to run around and play soccer, tackle somebody in football or shoot a three-pointer. So many people look at it and say, “Man, I can do it, but I can’t do it like that!”

T: Tell us about the gamers and their preparation. What does it take to become an ELEAGUE Champion?
SS: It takes a lot of dedication. It takes hours upon hours of training. No matter what game you're playing on ELEAGUE, it takes studying, understanding and willingness to dedicate everything to the competition.  If you think about how many games this stretches across, sometimes there's team-based games like “CS:GO,” “Rocket League” or fighting games like “Justice,” “Tekken” or “Street Fighter.” You have to remember that there's always somebody out there, right now, training to be a champion, to beat somebody that they lost to in another tournament or to come to ELEAGUE.

T: “Street Fighter” has endured in popular culture for many decades. Why has this game continued to thrive, and what makes “Street Fighter V” a fit for the ELEAGUE stage?
SS: It’s an engaging experience for fans and players. The “Street Fighter” brand has such a rich history and a large following already. It’s one of the most exciting video games ever created.  With ELEAGUE and TBS, we now have the opportunity to engage longtime fans and reach new audiences.

T: Why are video games such an important part of our culture? What is the allure of competing against friends and strangers in virtual worlds of fantasy?
SS: Video games really connect fans.  Some of the best friends I've made throughout life have been through video games. With today’s technology, players can find a common ground when it comes to being able to relate and connect to someone else. People travel from around the world to compete against other people. It’s evolved from playing video games with friends in your home to playing with strangers online to now bringing people together through the ELEAGUE platform.

T: What do you enjoy most about commenting on ELEAGUE events?
SS: I love working with my friends and the energy from the live audience.  It’s just like sitting courtside at a basketball game. The audience goes nuts and pumps up the players.  You can really feel the intensity.

T: Lastly, any aspirations to drop the mic and pick up the controller?
SS: Yeah, I still compete. I'm not invitation worthy. I definitely still compete. I'm probably going into EVO, one of the world's largest fighting game tournaments. Anybody who's played video games, you know you never really stop competing. So, even though I talk a lot, I play that much more so it's never going to stop.

Don’t forget to watch The ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational 2018 Playoffs – airing Friday, July 13, at 11 p.m. ET/PT on TBS – as eight of the world’s elite professional players compete for $250,000 in prize money and the title of ELEAGUE Champion. Live digital coverage will begin at 6 p.m. ET on Twitch (twitch.tv/eleaguetv).