The eSports vs. Sports argument has existed for a long long time. Like "Is it sport?" Today I bring up something different and one of the main reasons why I switched to CS:GO, but I think this fits in to the scope of eSports vs. Sports or "are eSports a sport?"
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Riot Games essentially pioneered eSports and brought it to level playing field with regular sports. I think it's literally the first time I ever saw Geico Car insurance sponsor both a sports team and an eSports team. It sounds bad for me to bring up Riot Games or LoL up here on Teamliquid, so I want to make some fair comparisons. I think if Starcraft was equatable to a real world sport, it would be like Tennis. I think if LoL were compared to a real life sport, it would be basketball. Does that sound like a fair statement?
let's get to the point
At one point, Riot Games had LCS player contracts that said their players could not play 26 other games while streaming in a nutshell. Fair enough, after all, Riot Games was giving players salaries. Question is, "Is that really fair? They can't play another game in their free time?" Who knows... I think SC2 players were given amazing amounts of leniency for their free time by comparison, in the 2013 era. They were not salaried, however.
Let's examine tournament organizers and game publishers as tournament organizers
I think by far this is what has transformed the most since 2012. I don't think much has changed with ESL, but rather scope and scale of everything they have done to this point of time has increased consistently - audience, graphics, reach, live events, you name it. It's just gotten better and better for them. Dreamhack has grown as well.
One of the things that bothers me the most, however, and I feel is very worthy of discussion would be the fact that game publishers are stepping up their roles as both tournament organizers and Intellectual Property owners. From both a logical and objective perspective I feel there is a large conflict of interest involved. This means that game publishers could charge tournament organizers fees to purchase a license to organize and run tournaments. "We'll let you run tournaments if we want you to run tournaments." Let's think of a real-world scenario where we have Johnny playing Baseball with his friends and classmates in winchester field, idaho. The field was built by city hall. His dad is doing a youtube livestream of the game and then MLB steps in and says to Johnny's dad "You have seven days to stop streaming baseball to youtube or you will face a lawsuit from us." This scenario is entirely fictional and not likely to hold up because MLB is not the I.P. holder to baseball, right? But I've seen and heard of entirely more bizarre things happening like lawsuits taking place for singing "Happy Birthday."
Further re-iterating the above paragraph, we must ask ourselves more questions, like, "Is it ethical for a company to permanently ban players of certain games no matter how many game accounts they purchase / spend money on?" It's all in the EULA, yes, but there could be in-game mechanics that prevent things like intentionally feeding in mobas or killing teammates in games without ruining the player experience. Again the real life comparison is, "You can ban Kobe Bryant or Micheal Jordan or Shaq from whatever league they were in previously, but you can't stop them from holding a basketball or shooting hoops."
Valve has very limited involvement with tournament organizers, unless they are titled "DoTA 2 Major" or "CS:GO Major." The rules are simple - if you don't have a VAC ban, and if you've never thrown a game for skins, and if you've never taken any drug you don't have a prescription for, then you can play.
TL;DR - Are eSports the same as traditional sports? Do Intellectual Property protection mechanisms interfere with the role of Game Publishers to act as objective tournament organizers? You decide.