From the enormous stadiums, thousands of raving mad fans, cutting edge gaming equipment and an emotionally charged environment, you would be forgiven for thinking that ESports is the new craze. Most people believe competitive video gaming just rose from the ashes. But, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The roots and cradle of eSports date back to the '70s. From this time, competitive gaming has come a long way with impressive milestones over the years. There have been some pits of great fortunes that have propelled the game to what it is today which is why a quick run-down of the history of ESports is a good idea.
The First eSports Tournament
The first competitive gaming event was held back in 1972 at Stamford University. The game of choice was Spacewar which was developed in 1962. The prize at that time was a far cry from the millions that are dished out at gaming competitions today. The winner walked away with a staggering whole year of subscription of The Rolling Stone Magazine.
It might not have been a glamorous prize, but, it got the ball rolling to what is today a billion dollar industry.
Eight years after the event at Stamford, the Space Invaders Championship received immense attention from the media after recording over 10,000 competing gamers at its competition. The success was primarily driven by the game of choice; Space Invaders, which was a household name at the time.
Records and Bookkeeping
ESports would not be successful without proper storage of player and gaming data. This stared back in the '80s when companies like Twin Galaxies started recording video game high scores and other records. The scores were publicised and even featured in prominent publications like the Guinness Book of World Records.
The Internet Age
One of the most significant breakthroughs for competitive video gaming and what is now one of the essential tenets of the sport was the internet and the World Wide Web. It took the sport from relaxing on the couch with a few friends from the neighbourhood to playing against some of the most gifted and fiercest players around the globe from the comfort of your home.
Thanks to the internet, competitive gaming companies like Blockbuster and Nintendo started sponsoring video game world championship online. Access to video games became easier and as expected, PC games became more popular.
After the internet, the next big break for eSports was in 1997 courtesy of the Red Annihilation Tournament. The event brought over 2000 gamers together who tried to butt heads over the famous Quake Game. This is often considered the first eSport event in the world.
The stakes also got higher. The winner this time around got to drive off in a Ferrari. Not just any Ferrari but John Cormack’s (Quake’s lead developer) Ferrari.
Seeing the continued growth and success of eSports, the first major gaming league, Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) came to life. They held their first tournament later that year and the prize monies got even better. CPL, for instance, handed out over £11,000 in one of their tournaments.
The 21st Century
At around the turn of the millennium, a few exciting things happened. Games like Starcraft were released. They changed the gaming world from the repetitive quick reflexes and muscle memory to strategic thinking and execution.
Viewership of competitive online gaming area with some of the competitions getting millions of views. Around the same time, some of the most popular names in eSports today were born. These include the Major League Gaming (MLG) which is the largest eSports league doubles up its popularity with its impressive payouts for winning players.
Mainstream eSports Gaming
Fast forward to the last three years. Viewership has gone through the roof and according to statistics, over £82 million in prize money was dished out across 3,765 tournaments held in 2017. The leading competitive sports league paid out as much as £18.56 million to its winner which is lightyears ahead of the first prize of a year’s subscription of Rolling Stone Magazine.
What Does the Future Look Like?
It’s safe to say; There’s no slowing down for competitive gaming. It has become of age! With the growth of internet connection, powerful chips and processors and immensely talented players, the rest of the world can only watch in awe as the sport continues to command global attention.
By 2020, revenue from eSports will hit over £1 billion. More people are expected to command the same of attendance that sports like basketball and football have commanded over the years. After all, everyone loves competition and hard-fought glory. And that is what competitive video gaming sports are all about.
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