Today, Seoul hosted the League of Legends world championships. It's a big enough event that it occupied the outdoor soccer stadium built for the 2002 World Cup. The New York Times has a decent 40,000-foot overview of the rise of professional gaming in South Korea.

From the Times:

At the time, in response to the Asian financial crisis, the South Korean government focused on telecommunications and Internet infrastructure. By 2000, a vibrant community of gamers emerged, largely thanks to PC bangs that used the new connections. The clubs acted as a sort of neighborhood basketball court or soccer pitch where gamers could test their skills.

The government also became involved, creating the Korean E-Sports Association to manage e-sports. Cheap television stations took off as well, a result of the new infrastructure, and it was only natural that one, then more, would focus on e-sports.

"Fourteen years ago, you had a government that gave a thumbs-up to e-sports — it was professionally organized, and it was on television, so it became a mainstream thing," said Jonathan Beales, an e-sports commentator. "The way soccer is around the world."

You can see the opening ceremony for the LoL in the video above, and here's a photo of a wider view of the crowd from the Times:

Photo via Jean Chung for New York Times

[New York Times]