What’s More Mindblowing than Watching eSports on TV? Watching Shaquille O’Neal Banter With Thorin
If you’re a fan of sports shows, particularly with multiple-time NBA champ Shaquille O’Neal on the desk, you’d be pretty familiar with the verbal jabs analyst throw at each other. It’s pretty savage, but in a good way.
Last night’s Inside The NBA was no exception only this time, Shaq wasn’t sparring with just Charles Barkley. At the ELEAGUE Counter-Strike: Global Offensive qualifier competition live at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last night, Turner Broadcasting Network brought on eSports analysts to talk about the matches between OpTic Gaming and Lounge Gaming.
The show was filmed live from CES and aired on TNT, with host Ernie Johnson and analysts Kenny Smith, Shaq and Barkley. After a brief introduction, the sports desk passed the baton to FACEIT vice president James Bardolf, and eSports analysts Richard Lewis and Duncan “Thorin” Shields.
After a brief rundown of the games, Thorin took a jab at Shaq’s 1996 movie flop, Kazaam, expertly transitioning from analysis into banter.
— ELEAGUE (@ELEAGUETV) January 8, 2016
Without missing a beat, Shaq struck back, challenging the eSports desk into a competition of their choosing in the coming weeks.
“I’ll make you eat those words buddy,” said Shaq. “We challenge you three.”
Thorin quickly retorted: “What about weight loss? Should we do that?”
“What about muscles? What about boxing—when I come over there and punch you in the face?” Shaq fired back.
Playful challenges and banter are no stranger to the nine-time Emmy-award winning show, with Barkley and Shaq frequently trading barbs. Thorin seemingly embraced the dynamic by jumping head-first against the Shaq attack.
While many of his colleagues may not agree with him, Shaq proudly stated that eSports was in fact a sport worthy of its recognition. He isn’t the only NBA legend to share appreciation for eSports either, with former teammate Rick Fox formally throwing his into the eSports ring late in 2015 as the CEO of League of Legends team, Echo Fox.
With Thorin and company holding their own on live TV, mainstream audiences saw firsthand that eSports is an entity onto itself. While the support it is currently garnering from media organizations in the last six months have been welcome additions to the growing industry, watching eSports personalities go toe-to-toe on-air with NBA legends leads credence to the fact that eSports has its own identity.
The match between OpTic Gaming and Lounge Gaming was a lead-up to Turner’s ELEAGUE, an eSports tournament league hosted by the Turner Broadcasting Network. ELEAGUE will run two, 10-week tournaments, which will air live on TBS. This year will feature CS:GO, with a total prize pool of $2.4 million.
For winning their match against Lounge, OpTic has won a spot in ELEAGUE. The games will begin Summer 2016.
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