Excuse me, Donald Trump, but China doesn't beat us in everything.
The American team Evil Geniuses defeated Chinese team CDEC at the International Dota 2 Championships on Saturday, taking home $6.6 million and becoming the first American team to hoist the Aegis of Champions. Translation: American video gamers beat Chinese video gamers and won a trophy and a lot of money. They proved that even in a fantasy battle arena, the U.S. can still be pretty awesome.
The Evil Geniuses are a good example of American exceptionalism in a new age. After cementing our dominance in women's soccer, video gaming is the new horizon we have set our sights on. Gaming is not just an Asian thing, or a lazy and mindless activity. It's not a parent's worst nightmare, or a time-wasting hobby. It's a sport with athletes, teams and an audience. It's the future of entertainment and our country is getting on board.
The world of electronic sports, basically video game competitions, is young, but one already gaining much fanaticism, money and -- to prove it is really a sport -- drug scandals. Thousands showed up to a sold-out KeyArena in Seattle last weekend, and millions watched online from around the globe. Newzoo, a gaming market research company, said that the eSports fan base should match that of American football by 2017. With an audience of that size, it's no surprise to see the Evil Geniuses gaming in shirts emblazoned with Monster and T-Mobile logos.
Like any sport, though, it's not without its problems. The Electronic Sports League recently announced that it will begin drug testing the athletes at competitions after players in a tournament in Poland were suspected of taking Adderall.
For all its cutting edginess, the sport has not shed its sexist background. Far fewer women play these games than men, as many see it as a male-exclusive domain, women characters in games are vastly over-sexualized, reports of online abuse are rampant, and last year's Gamergate controversy, in which a female game developer was accused of having a relationship with a journalist in return for good reviews, was a highly publicized example of an internal war in gaming.
Gaming is a fast-growing industry with money, sex, drugs, and institutional culture problems -- what's more American than that? But on the basis of skill -- and, yes, it takes a lot of skill to get on these kids' level -- it's one more area of entertainment in which Americans can dominate, and win.
On Aug. 22, thousands of eSports fanatics will descend upon Madison Square Garden for the North American Summer Finals championships for League of Legends, another multiplayer battle arena game. And it won't be the stereotypical overweight gamer with Red Bull for blood competing on stage, but rather domestic teams of slender athletes with quick hands and sharp minds -- our future LeBron Jameses and Peyton Mannings.
The only thing left is for the Evil Geniuses to sign a contract with Nassau Coliseum. What better way is there to get some professional sports back in the old (or new) barn?
Christopher Leelum, a student at Stony Brook University, is an intern with Newsday and amNewYork.