What do Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, Simone Biles, and SonicFox all have in common? They’re all nominated alongside other dominant athletes to be recognized at ESPN’s 2019 ESPY award ceremony. For the first time, esports professionals will be recognized with its own award category alongside four other new categories.
The nominees for the “Best Esports Moment” cover a large chunk of the professional competitive gaming industry. The nominees highly notable moments in fighting games, MOBAs, and first-person shooters and highlights competitions all around the world. The six nominees for “Best Esports Moment” are:
- SonicFox winning Evo after switching sides (Dragon Ball FighterZ)
- Team Liquid upsets defending world champ Invictus Gaming at MSI (League of Legends)
- Cloud9 wins Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Boston Major
- Astralis winning Katowice (Counter-Strike: Global Offensive)
- Invictus League of Legends world championship
- Spitfire win inaugural Overwatch League championship
Dominique “SonicFox” McLean and the Cloud9 team were also recognized during The Game Awards at the end of 2018. Both won in their respective categories: Best Esports Player and Best Esports Team.
ESPY stands for excellence in sports performance yearly and the award ceremony was started in 1993. Categories are voted on by sportswriters, executives, experts on the individual sports, broadcasters and fans. ESPN is also teaming up with eBay to run the ESPYs Sweepstakes where winners get a chance to play Apex Legends against esports stars and celebrities in the ESPN EXP Pro-Am. The $5 donation that is required for entry benefits the V Foundation, an organization focused on cancer research.
The four other new categories are Best Boxer, Best MMA Fighter, Best WWE Moment, and Best Viral Moment. Though not featured in the four nominees this year, esports could potentially be nominated in the Best Viral Moment category as the industry continues to grow. Best Breakthrough Athlete and Best Male/Female Athlete would be an almost impossible feat to accomplish in the near future but there are a handful of categories that aren’t earmarked for specific sports where esports could earn nominations. Even if they don’t for a long while, being included in the ESPYs with an original category is a major accomplishment and a new avenue for gaining exposure.