What is eSports: A Historical Look

Metaverse Ventures & Platforms
3 min readFeb 27, 2023

If you’re a fan of video games, you’ve probably heard of eSports. But what exactly is it? And how did it become the global phenomenon that it is today? In this article, we’ll take a historical look at eSports, from its early beginnings to its current popularity, and explore its potential for the future.

EVO 2004: Daigo Umehara VS. Justin Wong, The Legendary “Daigo Parry” (Photo from EVO)

Introduction to eSports and its increasing popularity

eSports, short for electronic sports, is the competitive playing of video games. Players compete individually or as part of a team, with matches being broadcast live or online for audiences around the world. Over the past decade, eSports has experienced explosive growth, with millions of viewers tuning in to watch tournaments and competitions.

The popularity of eSports has skyrocketed in recent years, with millions of fans tuning in to watch their favorite players and teams compete. In fact, a recent report estimated that the global eSports audience will reach 540 million by the end of 2023, with revenues expected to surpass $1.63 billion.

Brief history of eSports and how it started

The first known video game competition, the Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics, took place on October 19, 1972, where 24 players competed in “Spacewar!” for the grand prize of a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. Fast forward to the 1990s, and video game tournaments became more common, with games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat gaining popularity in arcades.

Photo from Living Computers

Key moments and milestones in eSports history

The first online gaming tournament, the Red Annihilation Tournament, took place in 1997, with the winner receiving a Ferrari 328 GTS. The victor of the tournament was a then-unknown player named Dennis Fong, who went by the online name of “Thresh”. Today, Fong is considered a gaming legend and is known as the Michael Jordan of eSports.

Another significant moment in eSports history was the creation of the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) in 1997, which helped to legitimize eSports as a professional sport. In the early 2000s, games like StarCraft and Counter-Strike gained popularity, with large-scale tournaments and competitions drawing in large crowds and offering substantial cash prizes.

The future of eSports and its potential growth

Today, eSports is a global phenomenon, with millions of players and fans worldwide. Major corporations and investors have taken notice, with companies like Amazon and Google investing in eSports leagues and events.

eSports has come a long way since the days of Spacewar! and the Red Annihilation Tournament. From its early beginnings in arcades and online gaming to its current status as a professional sport with millions of fans, eSports has cemented itself as a significant part of the gaming world. As technology continues to advance, and more people discover the joy of gaming, the future of eSports is undoubtedly bright.

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