Video games have been a popular form of entertainment since the 1970s. Be it a simple arcade game of the 70s or the latest one in VR, children and adults relish spending time playing them. A few decades ago, players competed for the best score in the mall and then they started striving to be the best gamer in town. As the competition started to heat up, eSports came into existence.
eSports refers to a competition where players are pitted against each other and the winner gets a prize. The first competition was held in Stamford University in 1972 and the winner took home a year worth of Rolling Stone subscription.
The first real competition was called the Space Invaders Championship. 10,000 people attended the first event in 1980. The Space Invaders game was already a household name, and the competition made it even more popular.
Since then, eSports has been in an upward trajectory.
The Red Annihilation tournament held in 1997 is considered to be the first eSports event and the winner was awarded a Ferrari. Just a few weeks after the competition, the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), the first major gaming league was created. The league offered $15,000 prize money in 1998.
As the Internet became popular over the next few years, the quality of game development also improved. Electronic Sports World Cup and other tournaments were launched, propelling competitive video gaming to newer heights.
The release of Starcraft in 1998 is considered as a big turning point in video games due to its real-time strategy gameplay. The successors of the series now play in Global StarCraft 2 League which has a viewership of about 50 million people from around the world.
In September 2016, Eleague started the first eSports broadcasting on TBS, an American channel. Next year, the name ELEAGUE was officially announced as a professional eSports league. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive was the first eSport competition on the channel. The event ran for 10 weeks and had 24 teams.
In 2017, we saw close to 3700 different tournaments awarding a massive $110 million as prize money in eSports.
By 2020, the gaming competition market is expected to reach $1.5 billion in revenue. This is not a surprise since the leagues have created big crowds that cheer for their favourite teams just like they do in real-world sports. In fact, many sports have started their own version of eSports. Formula1, NBA and Football are just a few sports that have decided to cash in on the eSports frenzy.