The Roar
The Roar


eSports parallels with traditional sport: Governing bodies

eSports and traditional sports are also similar off the 'field'. AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Roar Rookie
14th September, 2016

Every week we look at a number of practices that are common in both eSports and traditional sports. In previous weeks, we looked at player structure/spines, and the coaching staff behind successful teams.

This week, we look at the governing bodies that maintain the integrity of the game.

eSports requires a number of rules and regulations to ensure that fair play is being practised in every field. With contracts, cheating, and large sums of money being won, governing bodies have been introduced to legitimise eSports.

Appropriately, the most famous eSports governing body is South Korea’s ‘KeSPA’, or the ‘Korean e-Sports Association’. Widely considered to be the home of eSports, it was naturally the first to enforce standards to eSports, including broadcasting and the management of players.

KeSPA was founded back in 2000, with approval from the Korean Government’s ‘Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, and are the governing body for games including League of Legends, Starcraft II, DotA2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

KeSPA manages the live television broadcasts for eSports in the country, but they also handle punishments and rulings in regards to the breaking of rules. A number of professional Starcraft players were implicated in a match-fixing scandal, after they, in accordance with a number of illegal betting sites, fixed twelve different games. Three betting brokers were charged, with two ‘winning’ approximately USD$140,000, and the third earning USD$32,000 thanks to the fixed matches.

Another major governing body is the International e-Sports Federation, or ‘IeSF’. IeSF’s goals include a singular global entity in which to unite eSports under one jurisdiction. The IeSF conduct their business with 47 different ‘member nations’.

The IeSF have made leaps and bounds since it’s creation in 2008. It has officially submitted its member application to join SportAccord, which acts as an umbrella organisation for sporting federations and governing bodies. In 2013, the IeSF were approved as the official signatory of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Most game developers have their own eSports departments that create rules for their professional leagues. Valve dictates to ESL specific rules that it has to carry if they were to continue hosting Counter-Strike tournaments. A recent example is Valve’s ruling, preventing Counter-Strike coaches from being on-stage during matches.


Riot Games, the creators of League of Legends, does a similar thing, although with a tighter grip. The players and organisations play in the Riot-owned League Championship Series (LCS) in North America, LCK (Korean tournament) in Korea, as well as a number of other leagues around the world (including Oceania, Latin America North/South, Brazil, South East Asia, Taiwan and Turkey).

All players and organisations that play in these Leagues are technically employees of Riot, as they pay each player a salary. This gives them a tighter grip on all LoL professional players.

Once infamous moment of controversy was when they banned Chris Badawi and Christopher ‘MonteCristo’ Mykles, the owners of the Renegades organisation, due to a ruling. As they never released the evidence against the two, Riot have been under heavy scrutiny from the community for displaying an unbalanced level of autonomy when dealing with high impact situations, while handing with a similar situation with Fnatic and G2 with much more leniency.

With player contracts and millions of dollars changing hands in the eSports environment, governing bodies are starting to bring a level of unbiased authority in an attempt to legitimise the activity.