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So you’ve got an eSports fan on your holiday shopping list, but you’re baffled by the inscrutable phenomenon. (“eSports” is the misnomer for high-profile video game competitions with cash prizes, FYI.) No worries: we’ve got you covered.
eSports fans are pretty similar to fans of conventional sports, just, you know, without the sport part. They root for their favorite teams and players, love to show off their enthusiasm with licensed clothing and gear, and most of all, want to see these video game competitions live. That being the case, it’s not hard to figure out what makes a good gift for a fan.
Officially-licensed clothing is always a surefire way to show fan enthusiasm, and that’s no less true for the eSports crowd. Most of the official competitions and teams will sell at least something, even if it’s only T-shirts, but jerseys are the premium option for those who’re looking for a gift that will last longer and show off specific teams.
General licensed clothing for the big eSports games—DOTA, League of Legends, Counter-Strike, Rocket League, Overwatch, et cetera—can usually be found at the developer’s store, and usually on larger marketplaces like Amazon and specific stores like GameStop, too. These are items aimed at promotion of the game itself, so they won’t be quite as personal, but they make pretty good gifts if you can’t find anything else.
For organized competitions like The International or the LoL World Championship, look on the specific site for those tournaments. For gear that promotes individual pro teams or players, check the sites for said players—some games like Overwatch also promote team memorabilia on the publisher’s page.
eSports players usually have some high-end gear to play on. What better to give the aspiring pro game player than some of the same stuff? The selection of gaming gear for this purpose is generally limited to individual games instead of teams or players, like Razer’s selection of Overwatch-themed keyboards, mice, and headsets.
If you’d like more specific gear that matches what someone’s favorite team is actually using, do some quick google searches. You can usually find out what teams are using when they play in tournaments, since those are prime sponsorship opportunities. For example, the popular Could9 team is sponsored by HyperX, which sells headsets and mousepads emblazoned with the team’s logo. The esports site ProSettings catalogs which PC accessories the pros are using: Cloud9 team member Tarik uses a HyperX Alloy FPS keyboard and a BenQ Zowie EC2-B mouse. The Evil Geniuses team site even has a dedicated section for licensed PC hardware.
Be careful with these picks, though. If your gamer gift recipient is still using the keyboard or mouse that came with his or her computer, they’re probably due for an upgrade. But if they’ve already spent three figures on their own gear, they may not be interested in changing the setup that they’re already used to.
Some players aren’t content to merely watch eSports, and have aspirations of going pro themselves. Even if they don’t, they might be looking for an opportunity to show off their skills via streaming on Twitch or similar video platforms.
To do that, they’ll need more than a reliable gaming PC: they need a good webcam and mic setup as well. If they prefer to play on a console, they need a capture card, too. Check out our dedicated guide for would-be game streamers to see the est picks for this niche of gamers.
The highlight of any eSports fan’s season will be seeing their favorite team in person. Dedicated arenas around the country are now purpose-built for hosting these events, with pre-built positions for the teams and massive screens to watch the action from multiple players at once.
If you’re buying event tickets, you’ll need to find out when and where those events are. Search for the game or team your recipient likes, and select accordingly. eSports events are still a growing phenomenon, so tickets are fairly inexpensive—they’ll be less than half the cost of, say, nosebleed seats for an NFL game or decent theater tickets.
The tougher part will be actually getting the fan to the event. If you don’t live in a major city, you probably don’t have an eSports arena within easy driving distance. A little extra money (or an airline gift card) might be a way to more easily enable the travelling requited to attend these events in person.
Image credit: Roman Kosolapov/Shutterstock
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