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Competitive video gaming has become a global phenomenon

But is it a sport? The latest episode of our Netflix show Explained walks you through the history and the debate.

Video Game Manufacturers Show Off Their Latest Products At Annual E3 Conference
Video game manufacturers show off their latest products at the annual E3 Conference.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Sixty million people tuned in during 2016 to watch the League of Legends World Championship finals, where teams of professional video gamers battled for the glory of being the best on the planet — and $1 million in prize money.

To put that in perspective, an estimated 65 million people worldwide watched the Oscars in 2015.

Online professional gaming or esports tournaments have become a global phenomenon. Competitors can win as much as $25 million in prize packages in some tournaments. The Luxor Casino in Las Vegas has even dedicated an entire arena — complete with a competition stage, a 50-foot LED video wall, and telescopic seating — to competitions and daily gaming.

How did esports become such a thing? And does it even count as a sport?

Vox tackled this question in the latest episode of our new Netflix show, Explained. We have new episodes every Wednesday on topics such as cryptocurrency, the racial wealth gap, and cricket. If you like our videos, then you’ll love this show; it’s our most ambitious video project to date.

To watch, search “Explained” on Netflix or go to Click the “My List” button to make sure you don’t miss an episode!

Learn more:

Behind League of Legends, E-Sports’s Main Attraction (David Segal, the New York Times)

How Marcus ‘djWheat’ Graham became one of the voices of e-sports (Jeff Grubb speaks with Marcus Graham, whom we interviewed for this episode, for VentureBeat)

Meet Dennis ‘Thresh’ Fong, the Original Pro Gamer (Chris Baker profiles Dennis “Thresh” Fong, whom we also interviewed for this episode)

How to become a professional esports shoutcaster: 7 tips from the experts (Adam Starkey, Metro)

Riot Games’ Greg Street Answers League of Legends Questions from Twitter (Riot Games’s lead designer Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street, whom we also interviewed for this episode, answers questions about League of Legends for Wired)

Esports bookmaking? Globally, it’s already a billion-dollar gambling industry (Noah Smith, the Washington Post)

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