Imagine going to the Super Bowl without having ever previously seen a game. You would be told that you were witnessing something America loves more than all other sports combined being played at its absolute highest level and you would reply:

“Which is more points: a field goal or a touchdown?”

“Also, what’s a touchdown?”

“A beer costs how much?!?”

And so on. It’s the wonder of sports: We gradually absorb them so completely that it seems faintly absurd that someone else would fail to know there are four downs. (But more like three, since if it’s fourth-and-five you’re going to kick it obviously.)

There is money in esports. The tournament filled MSG’s 18,000-plus seats for two nights in a row with tickets going for $46 and $61. Oh, and 67 competitors have earned at least half a million dollars playing games like LoL, Dota 2 and StarCraft: Brood War.

This is how I felt while watching the League of Legends World Championship Semifinals at New York City’s iconic Madison Square Garden. Yes, for two straight nights fans packed the Garden to see which teams of elite gamers—including South Korea’s Sanghyeok Lee a.k.a. “Faker”, who’s generally cited as the Messi/LeBron of the sport—would compete in the Final.

And I was there with them for the second semifinal, despite having not played League of Legends before. I also dragged along my wife, who 10 minutes in revealed she had actually never played any video games before, beyond the occasional round of Dots on her iPhone.

Here’s what we learned watching the multiplayer online battle arena video game with thousands of other people who understood it just a little better than we did.

There is money in esports. The tournament filled MSG’s 18,000+ seats for two nights in a row with tickets going for $46 and $61 and a good amount of merch selling as well. In 2015 the game League of Legends itself earned $1.6 billion despite being a free download, as players shelled out hundreds of millions on virtual goods. Oh, and according to esportsearnings.com, 67 competitors have earned at least half a million dollars playing games like LoL, Dota 2 and StarCraft: Brood War. Advertisers must be licking their chops because…

There is youth in esports. I have been to the Garden many times before—this was the only occasion I ever said: “I’m the oldest non-employee here.” Then again, with Faker established as a legend at the ripe old age of 20, clearly…

It is a young man’s game. I’ll get still more specific…

It is a young South Korean man’s game. All the players in the Finals fit this classification. And I can go even a little beyond that because…

It is a young, glasses-wearing South Korean man’s game. All five players from Samsung Galaxy’s dominant team sported them while winning their semifinal. The specs must have worked: They swept their best-of-five series.

Earlier, Faker’s team, SK Telecom 1, had come from behind to win their semifinal 3-2. And yes, he also wears glasses. This is not to say that it was an all-male experience though…

A surprising amount of the female fans are in costumes. If I had to sum up the general look, I’d go with “Asian school girl from the future.” Again, for male gamers, this is a pretty sweet environment.

There are a surprising amount of female fans. And it gets still better for male gamers…

A surprising amount of these female fans are in costumes. While the costumes vary enough to resist easy summary…

If I did have to sum up the look, I’d go, “Asian school girl from the future.” Again, for male gamers, this is a pretty sweet environment. Perhaps making it understandable that…

Esports boasted the best-behaved crowd I have ever seen at the Garden. With the possible exception of Doctors Without Borders, Knick fans are the noblest people on Earth: They truly know basketball, they remain supportive of a team that’s been a turd for the better part of two decades now, and many of them get tipsy and starting screaming obscenities about LeBron’s hairline.

At least, you’re the guy I always wind up sitting next to.

Whereas League of Legends fans were quiet and polite… until something big happened in the game and they became CRAZILY LOUD until the moment passed at which point it was manners until the next moment appropriate for WILD YELLING presented itself. Besides being nice…

I could appreciate that the teams managed surprisingly coordinated group assaults and that, in individual battles, the players had ridiculous hand-eye coordination to make so many moves so quickly. My wife had a similar appreciation, though I did catch her playing Dots from time to time.

Their fans are surprisingly entertaining to listen to. I overheard this exchange:

Fan 1: “It’s crazy that people get paid to be analysts for this.”
Fan 2: “They’re not even watching: they’re eating!”

Looking over, I did indeed see that four analysts were ignoring the game—which played on massive screens at the center of the Garden—to focus on dinner.

All this is to say that I had a very nice time despite the fact…

At any given moment, I had virtually no idea what was going on. I understood the blue team wanted to destroy red team stuff and vice versa. I could appreciate that the teams managed surprisingly coordinated group assaults and that, in individual battles, the players had ridiculous hand-eye coordination to make so many moves so quickly. My wife had a similar appreciation, though I did catch her playing Dots from time to time.

On aural level, I very much enjoyed hearing an announcer yell, “They have four towers and two dragons!” in the tone usually reserved for Jon Gruden’s shriek of: “You can’t leave Gronk open!”

I still found myself mostly just reading the text that appeared on screen, including:

“SSG Crown is on a rampage!”

“Triple kill!”

“Ace!”

“Red Team has slain Baron Nasher.”

“Rift Herald returned to the void.” (Confession: I don’t think I’ve ever understood a sentence less than this one.)

And on aural level, I very much enjoyed hearing an announcer yell, “They have four towers and two dragons!” in the tone usually reserved for Jon Gruden’s shriek of: “You can’t leave Gronk open!”

Incidentally, Gronk is the rare human being who would perfectly fit into League of Legends, right down to his name.

The League of Legends World Championship Final is October 29 at L.A.’s STAPLES Center. If you’re in the area, I recommend checking it out: Even if you have no idea what’s happening, beats watching the Lakers.

Photos: Riot esports