Esports has been around since 1972. There was no DOTA or League of Legends then; students competed on the video game Space in the first esports event that happened in October of that year at Stanford University. The grand prize was a one-year subscription to Rolling Stones magazine. Eight years later, the first video game competition, the Space Invader Championship, was a rolling success with 10,000 participants.
In the 1990s, the rise of the internet saw a huge change in many industries, especially the gaming companies. The internet allowed gamers from different places in the world to compete, all without leaving their homes.
Internet connectivity brought in new PC games and made them even more popular such that gaming companies began to sponsor video-game competitions. Everyone who has been on the internet has heard of the term esports. Short for electronic sports, esports refers to video-game competitions played by professional players. The first esports tournament, which was called Red Annihilation, happened in 1997, where about 2,000 participants competed on the video game Quake. Back then, the grand prize was an opportunity to drive off in the Ferrari of the game’s lead developer, John Cormack.
Two decades and a year later, esports tournaments have taken the world by storm with over millions of viewers and over hundreds of professional teams participating in world competitions. Grand prized for global competitions are nothing to laugh at too. In 2017, the biggest prize pool for DOTA 2 was over 24 million dollars.
Fast-forward twenty years later, the biggest prize pool for DOTA 2, one of the most popular video games in the world, has reached over $24 million, while Epic Games, an American video game developer, provided over $100 million to fund prizes pools for Fortnite tournament in the 2018–2019 season.
Esports tournaments like the International, League of Legends World Championship, and Kiev Major, are also international events watched by over millions of online viewers and attended by over 20,000 spectators. Some even fly from different countries to witness the competition in person.
Professional esports teams train and prepare for months to compete in world events. The highest-earning esports team, Team Liquid, has earned more than $25 million in 1,451 tournaments while the second highest-earning team, Evil Geniuses, has earned over $20.9 million in 738 tournaments.
Sponsors of esports tournaments are nothing to laugh at. International competitions are funded by big tech companies like Microsoft, Intel, Nvidia, and Oculus.
The esports industry is quickly overtaking mainstream sports, in viewers, scales, and prizes of competitions. Millions watch international tournaments, and some even fly to different countries to watch the competitions. Professional players also train for months to prepare for competitions. Despite this, many still don’t consider esports as a legitimate sport.
How about you? Do think esports should be considered as a true sport? In scale, viewership, and funding, esports is as massive as, if not more, mainstream sports are, but is that enough to consider them a true sport? Let this infographic by iBUYPOWER give you all the details you need to decide.