Interest in professional gaming continues to rise across the country. A recent report showed each state’s favorite esports game — and Utah was an outlier.
The report from Frontier Communications identified "Starcraft II" as Utah’s favorite esports game. The Beehive State was the only state in the country to list the science-fiction video game as its favorite.
The game "Overwatch" led the country with 18 states, followed by "Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare" (14 states) and "Halo 5: Guardians" (seven states).
"FIFA 18" ranked No. 1 in four states — the only sports game in the top 10.
A press release mentioned a popular athlete was among the state's "Starcraft II" fans.
“Coincidentally enough, Starcraft II is the game that former Jazz player Gordon Hayward played as a professional gamer,” the press release said.
Hayward’s interest in video games has long been chronicled. In 2016, Hayward wrote an article for The Players Tribune about his interest in gaming.
“But to me, video games have always been an escape. They’re something I associate with relaxation. And if nothing else, they’re really, really, really fun,” he wrote.
Hayward called "Starcraft II" "the dominant force in competitive gaming.”
It's anyone's guess if Hayward's decision last summer to leave the Jazz for the Boston Celtics will hurt "Starcraft II's" ranking in Utah.
But the state's interest in esports and professional gaming shows no signs of waning. The University of Utah is sponsoring a varsity esports team.
The team, dubbed as a “first of its kind” by video game website Kotaku, has consistently made national headlines for stepping into an otherwise unknown realm of collegiate competition.