The history of eSports

How long have eSports been around?
29 May 2019


A gamer at a computer


eSports as a form of competition using video games most commonly taking the form of organized multiplayer video game competitions between professional players and teams. Fortnite, League of Legends, Counterstrike. They all have their own competitive matches their competitive scenes hundreds of thousands of viewers watch matches from the comfort of their own homes as well. So Georgia Mills has been looking at the history of eSports.

Georgia - The first recorded eSports event was for students and took place in Stanford University in America in 1972. In the game space war it's one you might recognize if you saw a picture you play as a ship represented by a basic white triangle outline and you fly around 2D space blasting asteroids. Eight years later and we have the first large scale competition which is held by Atari for the game space invaders and had over ten thousand participants. This popularity led to further tournament is being held and even televised in shows like Star Cade throughout the 80s. To win most of these games you simply had to beat the high score. But in the 90s with the development of better head to head games like Street Fighter 2. This all started to change. People can now take each other on directly with multiplayer death matches and several yearly fighting tournament was set up that still continue to this day. But in the late 90s we get the arrival of the Internet. Now loads of people can battle each other in massive online tournaments with games like Quake and World of Warcraft. And then we get to the 2000s where a new generation of consoles and better accessibility to the Internet again increased the popularity of competitive gaming. Since then esports have gotten bigger and bigger especially in South Korea. Generally considered the world capital of sports viewers flocked to tournament in the thousands. In 2014 a League of Legends tournament attracted 40000 fans to a stadium one which had previously hosted a football World Cup semi-final as well. Online views through services like twitch reach tens of millions. Competitors in the tournament's are professional full time gamers who can earn plenty through prize money and increasing levels of sponsorship and the prize money is staggering. In 2018 Epic Games announced they would provide 100 million dollars of prize money for competitions of the game fortnight previously the biggest prize pot was a mere 38 million from Valve's Dota 2. In fact the stakes are so high now that performance enhancing drugs like ritalin and adderall have become common in competitions. So if this kind of cash and that many people involved, eSports might be the most popular pastime that so many people have never heard of and it's only set to get bigger.


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