Esports, short for electronic sports, is the professional landscape of video games as sport. Usually, a group of professionals take part in eSports for spectators and compete some prize. For decades, eSports have been played both offline and online. The most famous eSports video games include first person shooters, Battle Royales, and card, racing, and strategy games. In this article, we take a look at how eSports gained their popularity and what is coming up for the industry in the future.
Esports have been a part of our lives for more than 30 years. Some of its most prestigious events are described below.
Where it all began
In the year 1972, the first known gaming competition took place at Stanford University for the game Spacewar. Many Stanford students took part in the competition to win the prize of a one-year membership to Rolling Stone magazine. The competition was divided into two parts, one comprised of teams while the other was a solo performance. A guy named Bruce Baumgart won the solo tournament, while Tovar and Robert E. Maas won the team battle.
Another big event that has been recorded, held in United States during the year 1980. The competition was held by a French brand, Atari. It was considered to be one of the biggest competition of the time. More than 10,000 people around the United States participated in the tournament. Such drastic amount of people, gathering for a gaming event, developed an urge in the people to participate more often in such events.
ESports got into the spotlight during these years when newspapers like Times started publishing about these events. Another big aspect for the rising of eSports industry was, a professional player named as Billy Mitchell, who was named in the Guinness Book of World Record for his highest score in the game Pac Man and Donkey Kong, during the year 1985.
During the period between, 1980 and 1985, Americans started television shows that used to cover the gaming events. A show named as Starcade which ran between 1982 and 1984, showed participants competing with each other in an Arcade game. The show consisted of 133 episodes in total and was considered to be one of the most likeable show on the television those days.
Not just the America, but UK was also well aware of the rising gaming industry. In the UK, a channel named as BBC had a show First Class. The show had Arcade games like Hyper Sports, 720o and Paperboy. During all these events, a game called Netrek was released. The game was the first ever that used the internet connectivity to access the Meta servers for the matchmaking and storing the user information online.
1990, the era of online games
After the year 1990, a lot of new online games came out. The game Street Fighter II changed the way people used to select the best player. Before the game, only the highest-scorer was considered to be the best player. But, after this game was invented, players could actually compete each other face to face to decide who was better.
Nintendo World Championships during the year 1990 and 2000, changed the way people used to think about the games. ESports became a total sport where people could actually come and play to win massive amounts.
21st Century was the popular time for television coverage for the games like, StarCraft and Warcraft etc. The whole world started showing eSports events on television as regular sports. The French channel Game One started broadcasting eSports matches in a show known as Arena Online. Another very famous United States channel, ESPN, started hosting Madden NFL events in a show named as Madden Nation during the year 2005 and 2008.
2011, the Birth of Twitch
In the year 2011, a new way of showing the eSports tournaments and live games, was invented. The online streaming platform known as Twitch was launched in this year. Within some time, Twitch got so much hype that its viewers started creating record views on a single tournament. Because of some very famous games like League of Legends and Dota 2, Twitch had the most number of unique audience every tournament.
According to some stats, in the year 2013, the viewers on the Twitch watched 12 billion minutes of video online.
Biggest Tournaments of eSports
After the year 2010, eSports industry has seen a revolution because of some very famous competitive games and because of the online platforms that show, how much interesting and competitive these games can become. Millions of people come to the online streaming websites every day, just to watch the events and matches between their favorite players.
As a matter of fact, eSports are now organizing huge events to return the favor to the general public who show a complete interest in them.
There are some of the hugest events for eSports like, The International for Dota 2, the League of Legends World Championship, the Overwatch League and The Hearthstone World Championship. There are plenty of other bigger tournaments as well, but let’s just discuss some of them.
The Dota 2 International
The Dota 2 International is considered to be the biggest eSports event ever. It is an annual Dota 2 competition hosted by Valve Corporation. The first ever International took place in Germany in year 2011. This was the time when Dota 2 was recently exposed to the general public and thus, the prize pool was not that much for that year. The prize pool back then was $1.6 million.
One of the best thing about this tournament is that, each year’s prize pool tops the previous prize pool via crowd funding. The International broke all the records in the year 2014. During the fourth International, the prize pool touched $11 million and that was considered to be the biggest prize pool for any eSports tournament. After that year, Dota 2 International kept breaking its own records by increasing the prize pool for every year. During the year 2015, the total prize pool for the International was over $18 million.
Valve Corporation’s biggest event, The International, broke the record in the year 2016 again when the prize pool touched $20 million. Same was the case in year 2017 and 2018, the prize pool eventually reached $25 million.
The International is considered to be one of the biggest eSports tournament in history. Although, a lot of other gaming industries like Epic and Blizzard has promised to overcome this prize pool but none of them has succeeded yet.
The League of Legends World Championship
The World Championship of the League of Legends organized by Riot Games is held every year. This event is considered to be the biggest event in the form of viewers. Although, the prize pool is not very much but, the number of spectators are always record breaking for this amazing tournament.
The basic prize pool for the League of Legends World Championship is around $1 million. In the year 2017, the final of the tournament was watched by more than 60 million people online. This tournament is known for breaking its own viewership records every year. The 2017 viewers broke the 2016 record.
The tournament has been praised world widely because of its dramatic, very emotional and ceremonial performances. During the event, Riot Games generated $2 million because of the donations made by the viewers.
The game was considered to be the most successful of all times when it was offered a tournament in the Olympics. The growing success of the game convinced Olympics to add the game in their 2024 tournament. It was later decided that it was too early to add an electronic game in the Olympics but only the discussion made the game one of the greatest of all times.
The Overwatch League
The Overwatch league held by the game’s developer, Blizzard Entertainment, is considered to be the biggest event of the game. Every year, Blizzard Entertainment organize this prestigious event with a prize pool over $3.5 million.
The league was first held in year 2016 and offered a record breaking initial prize pool which was $3.5 million. Every year, like other games, Overwatch league’s prize pool increases. The prize pool for the current year 2019 has almost reached $5 million.
ESports industry is rising more rapidly like any other industry. People are now investing much more in the electronic games than any other industry. Some of the biggest organizations are conducting multiple eSports tournament and are investing a great capital into the games.
Some of the examples of the biggest investments in the eSports industry are by, Coca-Cola, BMW, Burger King, Red Bull, Mercedes and many more.
Because of the rapid growth of the audience eSports gather each year for their amazing tournaments, biggest brands are investing in them for the advertisement purpose. Some of the brands provide the gaming chairs where the professional players sit and play. A part of advertisement is done by providing the team kits.
Burger King has organized massive events for the game called Counter Strike. One of the most viewed tournament which is League of Legends World Championship is sponsored by the biggest brands like Mercedes, Adidas and Gillette.
Another biggest sponsor is, Intel. They provide the screens and multiple PC’s where the professional players play. Red Bull and Coca Cola are considered to be the biggest investors in the electronic sports.
Coca cola has recently announced one of the greatest event called the global EA Sports FIFA 18. The event ponders to gather some of the best players of the game around the globe.
Red Bull is also known to invest some biggest capitals in the League of Legends World Championship.
The Future of ESports
The global growth of eSports has made different major organizations to look upon the gaming industry more widely. The craze of gaming is spreading more rapidly than ever. The number of viewers for every game are increasing every single day. Every tournament is breaking the record viewers for the previous years. Vice versa, the prize pool for every tournament for any game is increasing as well. People are investing more into the games that it makes the prize pool go high in the chart every year.
The future for the eSports look very bright. As one of the biggest brands in the world are considering to invest in them. On the other hand, the world’s biggest competition which is the Olympics is also talking about including eSports in the next competition. Although, because of the health constraints, Olympics decided not to include the eSports in their 2024 session but maybe in the coming years, we might see eSports professionals taking part in the world’s biggest tournament.
Another big aspect for the brighter future is the major investment. Every year, new companies are joining the eSports industry by investing their money into biggest tournaments of the year.
An audience equal to an original physical sport audience makes a hell of a difference. Biggest giants like Coca Cola, Mercedes, BMW and Intel know how and where to invest their money. For that, they are investing in the eSports as much as they are investing in the other physical sports.
A lot of new games and new mode of playing are coming out every other day, making the eSports industry alive. Because of the competition among the games themselves, new features like Battle Royale, Zombie mode and many more features are coming out in every game. Even the game, Counter Strike has given the Battle Royale feature to compete with the other games.
Online streaming, massive prize pools, huge number of viewers and biggest investments are making eSports competing with the physical sports. The world is revolutionizing and so is the gaming trend with it. People like to watch and be part of the game at the same time. Watching the stream of the game and predicting the facts and betting on it makes you watch and be the part of it at the same time.
In general, eSports industry is rising every day making the future very bright for itself.