I learned what esports really meant when Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok buried his head in his hands, and his shoulders shook, and the League of Legends world trembled with him.
Moments like this defined my life as a sports fan and led me into my career as a reporter and editor. Sitting in the stands at 8 years old as Mark Grace caught a foul ball to send the Chicago Cubs to the playoffs in 1998. A revolutionary Cubs roster, 18 years later, shattering a 100-plus year drought and winning a World Series on a rainy night in Cleveland. Devin Hester’s electric kick return to start the Super Bowl in 2007 and the misery that followed as a Chicago Bears fan. The Michael Jordan era Chicago Bulls, and the Derrick Rose era Chicago Bulls, and the whatever-the-hell-they-are-now-era Chicago Bulls.
Esports entered my Midwest-centric life after all that went down, first with Overwatch APEX and then with a crash course on League of Legends at ESPN. I’d seen hype Evo pop-offs and clutch Counter-Strike plays, and I tried (and failed) to mimic the brilliance of Park “Bumper” Sang-beom’s Reinhardt play.
But I hadn’t had a real “I get it” esports moment until I saw a broken Faker struggle to stand up and congratulate his Samsung Galaxy opponents at the League of Legends World Championship in 2017.
Thousands of miles away in Los Angeles, while I braced to edit a recap of the action, I shuddered. The chills crept through me, and I understood. This is what esports meant to millions of people.
After that, I was certain this community would be part of my world for the rest of my life.
Four years, 10,000-plus hours of awful gameplay, a marriage proposal at an esports arena in Las Vegas and an ESPN layoff later, I’m starting a journey to tell stories like Faker’s to fans like you.
This is Upcomer, a place for people who revere esports not just for the technical prowess these players display, but for the passion they put into the games you love. We aim to capture the past, present and future of esports with storytellers who are dedicated to going deeper than the surface level esports journalism you see today. Upcomer is not here to just tell you what happened. We’re going to tell you why it matters, what’s next and how we got to where we are.
To our new fans: Welcome. We hope you stay and see what we’ll have to offer later this spring. To returning readers and viewers: Welcome back. We hope you like what we’ve done with the place. The site is under new ownership, with Enthusiast Gaming leading a rebrand that’s changed just about everything but the name of the publication.
The reason we kept that moniker is simple. We’re doing something entirely new here, but we loved the original Upcomer name and the mission it captures of bringing new voices into the esports space to tell stories you might not know. The new Upcomer aims to explore questions that surprise and excite you, ones that get you talking to your friends wherever you go to connect with the esports world every day.
One big lesson I share with all my writers is to show, not tell. But while you’ll have to wait a bit longer to see for yourselves, I can share what’s going to make Upcomer different. Our focus, in video, writing and on our app, will be on longform stories and creating the best esports journalism on the planet. We’ll continue to strive to be the best hub for reporting and news content in the industry through our merger with fellow Enthusiast Gaming property Daily Esports, but our goal is to stand out with our ability to bring you those same chills I got on Nov. 4, 2017.
We’re also setting ourselves apart with our commitment to rigorous ethical standards. We are an entirely independent publication despite Enthusiast’s ownership of Luminosity, and we’ve started an unprecedented partnership in esports with guidance from the Poynter Institute, a journalism watchdog organization, to ensure our publication sets a new standard for journalism ethics in the space.
Upcomer’s goal is to be beyond reproach in its reporting. We’ll share the good, the bad and the ugly, without favor, every time. That was important to me in accepting the role of editor-in-chief for Upcomer, and it will remain my highest priority as we move toward launch.
Finally, I’d like to mention our commitment to creating accountability and change in the esports industry. We will be active in telling stories about marginalized communities and make sure that everyone who comes to our platforms knows they are enthusiastically welcomed. In turn, we will also be active in our reporting on those who do the opposite and tackle issues in esports that other publications shy away from. To that effect, we’ve hired Amanda Stevens, a diversity and inclusion manager in the esports field who will be working with Upcomer and the entirety of the Enthusiast network to help us navigate telling sensitive stories the right way.
We want you here. We want to prove we’re trustworthy. We want you to know you matter, that your passion matters, that your story matters, just as much as Faker’s, or Bumper’s or the millions of other fans cheering alongside you.
Welcome to the new Upcomer. We look forward to serving you.
- What esports means to me -Tyler Erzberger
- No bravery required – Amanda Stevens
- Just watch what comes next – Colin McNeil
About the Author
Sean Morrison is the Editor-in-Chief of Upcomer, a former editor for ESPN’s esports section and is an adjunct professor at Indiana University’s Media School. Catch him on Warzone, Destiny 2 or Elder Scrolls Online, or just follow him on Twitter.