eSports is growing out of its subculture roots. Everyday with more non-endemic sponsors popping up around the scene, venture capital flowing, mainstream media coverage and a growing fan base, eSports in the not-so-distant future will demand the attention of those not willing to be left behind. Denmark is a country that not only refuses to be behind the eight ball in the world of eSports, but wants to constantly push the envelope of how relevant it is in day-to-day Danish life.
Similar to how the winning team from the Superbowl is received at the White House in America, international eSports champions from Denmark meet in Copenhagen City Hall for their achievements to be celebrated. The typical guest list of these receptions are Olympic gold medallists or champion handball/football teams.
However, given the prestige, international nature, and context of eSports organisation Astralis’s win at the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive ELEAGUE Major they too, were celebrated in the Copenhagen City Hall.
— Astralis (@astralisgg) 7 February 2017
In the eyes of the Danish parliament, Counter-Strike champions Astralis, and more importantly eSports as a whole are a legitimate sporting competitor and scene respectively. Or put more simply in the words of Waka Flocka, “real recognize real”.
In saying that though, this is not the first step made by Denmark in promoting eSports, but rather the culmination of a series of smaller steps. Members of Astralis’ starting roster, Nicolai “device” Reedtz, Peter “dupreeh” Rothmann and Markus “Kjaerbye” Kjærbye have all had their share of national TV time – breaking down moves, giving interviews and explaining the world of Counter-Strike to mainstream audiences.
The foreign minister of Denmark even tweeted his support for Astralis at the ELEAGUE Major, further exemplifying the legitimacy of the scene in the eyes of the government and Danish culture:
Shout-Out til Det danske Counter-Strike: GO (CSGO) hold, Astralis, der er i finalen i en af årets største turneringer @astralisgg
— Anders Samuelsen (@anderssamuelsen) January 29, 2017
“Shout-out to the Danish Counter-Strike GO (CSGO) team, Astralis, that is in the final of one of the biggest tournament of the year @AstralisGG”
Does Denmark’s continued and growing coverage of eSports change the face of the scene as we know it? Not really, at least not yet. It is just one part of an incremental process that will continue to grow eSports at a fast and steady rate with the eventual goal of widespread mainstream acceptance and coverage.
However, if you were to tighten the scope of this to just the Danish Counter-Strike scene in particular, then the official actions of members of the Danish parliament matter deeply.
Denmark is known for having the deepest talent pool out of any country in the world for CS:GO. Astralis, Team Dignitas, Heroic, Tricked Esport show that the Danes are as real as they come when it comes to fielding top talent. As such, when this wide and deep pool of talent is praised and legitimised by high ranking members of parliament, it continues to fuel the scene. Whether it be through showing parents that eSports are a field of legitimate value in which people thrive, or motivating people in the field to work harder.
So even if the ripples of this acknowledgement from the government doesn’t rock the world of the international sporting community, if it changes the mind of even one set of parents to support the eSports dream of their kid, then the gesture was entirely worth it. It is a gesture to the future of a burgeoning industry and a gesture to the talent and high level of competition their country’s top stars play at.
“HUGE VICTORY FOR DANISH GAMERS.
“Through physical training, a healthy diet and focusing on their mentality, danish Astralis have become the world’s best CS team.”
Small gestures and statements start or add to snowballs which lead to complete shifts in what we perceive as normal as a culture. So while we shouldn’t necessarily dwell on this one nod of the head as the penultimate goal of eSports, it certainly shouldn’t be overlooked: well done to Astralis and well done to Denmark, for recognising real when they see it – even if this recognition isn’t the be all and end all.