The Beginning – The 70s The first tournament dates back to 1972 when a large number of students of Stanford University came together to play the video game ‘Spacewar’. The prize for this competition was a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. The event was even covered by the said magazine and this event marked the beginning of eSports tournaments. Little did they know that one day this would evolve into more commercial tournaments played all over the world and followed by millions of fans! Not just that, but the kind of culture that esports have turned into is really unbelievable.
The Arrival in Style – The 80s
It was in the 80s that esports tournaments really started attracting more and more players and followers. It was in 1980 when Atari, a pioneer in arcade games, held an esports championship of ‘Space Invaders’ that became an impressive event in the esports history. This was attended by more than 10,000 players across USA and competitive gaming had finally arrived. The Pac-Man and the Donkey Kong were the popular games of those times. It was also during this decade that the company Twin Galaxies was formed which promoted video gaming and publicized video game records officially. The 80s also saw the trend of televised esports events where players would compete against each other to beat the others’ high scores.
The Internet Invasion – The 90s
This is the time when the internet and the World Wide Web made an entry into the lives of the gamers. This enabled the online competitive gaming and it connected the players across the globe. This increased the popularity of the games and bigger companies started sponsoring esports events; Nintendo and Blockbuster Video to name a few. In the year 1997, a massive epsorts event called as Red Annihilation tournament was held. The then famous game ‘Quake’ drew quite a few players and fans and the winner drove away with a Ferrari! This was followed by the formation of the Cyberathelete Professional League and many other tournaments which started their annual gaming events.
Another major game of this decade was the Starcraft: Brood War which was the first real-time strategy game. This eventually paved the way for today’s Global StarCraft 2 League (GSL) which is the most prominent and renowned competition in the world.
The Y2K Boom – The 2000
This decade saw the birth of two prominent organizations World Cyber Games (WCG) and Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC).WCG (operated by South Korean company World Cyber Games Inc.) was an international tournament and was held in many countries. ESWC (now known as Electronic Sports World Convention) was originally created by a French company Ligarena, treated the gamers just like other athletes and regarded the esports as real games. Another tournament which contributed to esports history is Major League Gaming (MLG).
It was during this time that the prize money pool started increasing subsequently increasing the fan following and also the number of players which started participating in various competitions. Many television channels started broadcasting these leagues and gained lot of viewership.
Major Genres and Online Streaming – The 2010
By this time esports had gone through major changes and the simple video games had a complete makeover. Now, the gaming experience was more important many genres were introduced during this time; the major one being MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena). Most popular game in this category is the DOTA 2 which is also the most successful events in the esports history.
Online streaming was another feather in the hat for the esports lovers. Not only playing games was now at their fingertips but watching these tournaments and leagues was easier too. This was a more feasible option as it brought down the amount of money they put into viewing their favourite tournament but not at the cost of compromising on the fun and entertainment bit of it. One such popular platform is Twitch which was launched in the year 2011. It boasts of streaming almost all major championships and tournaments which are held all over the world. Apart from this, all the leading leagues have their own websites and stream their events through their own sites.
Entry into Asian Games and Beyond – 2018
Asian Games 2018 included eSports as a demonstration sport (medals that are won in this category are not counted in the official tally of medals). As good as six video games were included in the competition; StarCraft II, League of Legends, Pro Evolution Soccer, Clash Royale, Arena of Valor and Hearthstone. It will be a medal event in the coming Asian Games 2022.
If rumours are to be believed, then Paris Olympics 2024 organizers are considering including esports as a demonstration sport. If this becomes a reality, then it would be a major landmark in the esports history and would be a welcome decision for gaming lovers in every nook and corner of the world.
The present-day esports scenario has reached a level which no one could have imagined. The tournaments are at par with any other mainstream games tournament. They are replete with opulent opening ceremonies, highly advanced gaming zones, huge prizes and massive viewership (both physical and online). There are teams and team owners and dedicated sponsors which have taken the world by storm. Looking back at the esports history, it is seen that these games were always loved and embraced by the people. It would be interesting to see where it can go from here. All we know is that it is an unstoppable phenomenon and would only become huge with time.]]>