So this essay will just be me writing about esports. I’ll be going over the history of esports, significant events in esports history, and what esports is today. What exactly is ‘esports’? It’s the term given to professional competitive video gaming, and it can be applied to games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, Starcraft II, and many other games. Any game can qualify to be an ‘esports’ title, and anyone can compete in esports events.
Whether they be online events, which would require a stable internet connection, or a ‘LAN’, an event in which all of the competing players/teams come together in one place and compete on the Local Area Network. LANs are usually done so that there are no network differences significant enough to cause issues.
The first esports event was held in at Stanford University in October 1972 and was called the Intergalactic Space War Olympics. The event had been advertised using flyers around the University and on its bulletin boards.
The flyers read: ‘The ‘Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics’ will be hosted here, Wednesday, October 19th. First prize will be a year’s subscription to ‘Rolling Stone’ Magazine. The event will be reported by reporter Stewart Brand & photographed by Annie Liebowitz. There will be free beer!’ During these Olympics, two events were held: a free-for-all, and a team battle. In Spacewar! (The game being played), there were five ships in total, and the purpose of the game was to destroy the enemy ships while avoiding mines.
There was also a star that would pull ships close with gravity.
Slim Tovar and Robert E. Maas won the team battle, while Bruce Baumgart won the free-for-all. Around the 1980s, esports became a more common thing when players would compete with each other’s scores on their favorite arcade cabinet games, such as Tetris, Pac-Man, and Space Invaders. Especially after the Space Invaders Championship was held, with an estimated 10,000 participants and media attention. But it was still far from being popularized enough to be recognized as an official sport, which didn’t happen until the early 2000s. When the Internet became more of a regular thing around the 1990s, it made PC gaming more popular.
And with that came the ability to play games online competitively, which grew esports and brought it more attention, which in turn caused companies to sponsor tournaments and other esport events. In 1997, Quake’s ‘Red Annihilation’ tournament was held, with a Ferrari as the Grand Prize. This had about 2,000 participants and was sponsored by the developing team behind Quake. Also in 1997, the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) was made and they held their first tournament that year. In 1998, a lot of significant things happened for esports, including the release of Starcraft and a CPL Tournament with a prize pool of $15,000. In the early 2000,’s the Korea esports Association (KeSPA) was formed to manage esports on South Korea, and help make esports into an officially recognized sport.
Major international esports events such as the World Cyber Games, and the Electronic Sports World Cup were held. In 2002, Major League Gaming (MLG) was formed and to this day is the largest esports league. Today’s esports Today, esports is much bigger then it used to be, and depending on the game, esports professionals can make living off of it. With huge events such as The Internationals, Dreamhack, MLG, and ESL paying out millions of dollars in prize money, there’s no surprise there. Even at this size, the entire esports scene is still growing and is projected to have around 2 billion dollars in total revenue by 2020!
And that’s just a projection based off of the current size of the scene right now if more games continue to become popularized in the esports scene and more tournaments, teams, and events are made, then it can grow even faster then that. Each year more and more companies sponsor esport events, and as more companies and brands sponsor esports, the faster it’ll grow. Currently, the biggest event for esports was the Intel Extreme Masters tournament, hosted at Katowice, Poland. More than 175,000 people attended the event, and over 45 million people viewed it online. The second biggest events are easily Dota 2’s ‘The International’ with an insane prize pool of $20+ million dollars, and League of Legends ‘Worlds’ with a smaller, but still quite large, prize pool of $2+ million dollars. Compare that to 1998’s CPL Tournament with a prize of $15,000 total, and it’s easy to see how far esports has come. So as you can see, esports had a humble beginning in 1972 and is now a globally accepted sport, right along with more traditional sports, such as basketball or baseball. Some colleges are giving scholarships for esport players, and the collegiate esports scene is slowly growing. Hopefully, within a few years, it will become more commonplace and acceptable to be able to pursue a career in esports, just as you can in traditional sports.