It all started a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away… No, not really, but it did start some time ago. And it has grown insanely over time!
e-sports is essentially just a bunch of people competing in multiple categories of video games. It’s usually multiplayer games, but you can find contests where people compete by trying to finish a certain singleplayer title the fastest, like “Mario,” for example. We call those attempts speedruns. But, no matter how entertaining speedruns are, with their innovative ways of completing different games, they sadly aren’t today’s topic. Instead, we’ll talk about multiplayer games such as “Counter Strike,” “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft,” “Fortnite,” “Overwatch,” “League of Legends,” and many others.
Decades ago, someone thought to themselves, “You know what would be fun? Competing at this cool video game!” Well, that’s the reason why the first-ever competition took place at Stanford University, where people played “Spacewar.” At the time, students were invited to attend the “Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics,” as they called it. The first place reward was a one-year subscription for “Rolling Stone.” Together with the competition held by Atari for its game “Space Invaders,” this contest was the precursor to the e-gaming industry. It’s essentially how e-sports started.
Arcade games were next. Billy Mitchell’s world records in “Pac-Man” and “Donkey Kong” made arcade games rather popular in the public eye. That was one of the reasons why video games came to television, with game shows such as “Starcade” appearing in the U.S. and “First Class” in the U.K. In these shows, players competed against each other for the highest scores.
It was beneficial for many games, especially those on the PC, that internet availability had soon begun to increase worldwide. The game “Netrek,” for instance, was an online game for up to 16 players. It was among the first-ever internet teamplay games, and it used meta servers to find other open-game servers. Also, it was the first to have permanent user info.
“All your base are belong to us” is a pop culture reference from an old game “Zero Wing.” It probably has one of the funniest and worst translations ever, making it a meme.
Competitive gaming became mainstream when Atari organized its first “Space Invaders” Championship in 1980. Over ten thousand players attended the event, which definitely helped gaming become a big thing today.
The evolution of gaming and gaming consoles consoles is what actually made the trend grow so much, with consoles like Sega, Playstation, and Xbox being so widely available to anyone with a TV. Just the fact you could have such leisure in your living room and play something so new and innovative at the time was amazing.
No one would have ever thought that it would have turned into competitive gaming. Well, at the time, the internet wasn’t really such a big thing. When the internet became a standard in the 2000s, gamers around the world could come together a whole lot easier, which was but a dream less than a decade before.
Gaming vs. E-sports
This might be confusing for some. Gaming vs. e-sports — what’s the difference? Well, gaming, as one would probably assume, is usually recreational. It is just playing games for fun, outside of the organized competitions. e-sports, on the other hand, are organized competitions in multiplayer games.
These competitions often offer large prize money sums. Some popular games that have the biggest prize pools are “Dota 2” with $34 million, “Fortnite” with $15million, and “League of Legends” with $6 million. And these numbers are just per tournament. The overall amount of money paid out is much, much bigger.
While the category of gaming includes competitive games, it does not mean that all games allow for such skirmishes. If you were to browse Twitch, for example, you would see that all of those people who play games there fall under the category of gaming, but they are not all necessarily competitive players. Usually, they are just entertainers, playing games for the fans. And no matter how good they are, that doesn’t make them esport athletes. Certainly, almost any game can be competitive, but most of them are just casual fun.
The top professional e-sports teams usually comprise players who are either scouted by managers of major teams, like Fnatic, FaZe, or TSM, or, if they are at the highest rankings, they can apply for a position in a team. Teams figure out what positions they need to fill and voila — they’re in.
There are a lot of teams, all in different categories of games, be it a shooter, MMO, MOBA, or something else. For example, the top LoL team that won the most championships would be TSM with seven wins. Next up is Team Liquid, with four wins, and the third-best would be C9, with three wins. These teams and many others have different groups of players competing in different games. For example, there is Team Liquid, a team that competes in “Dota 2” that has won a championship as well.
With video game competitions being held in so many different genres, it would really be hard to say who are the top e-sports players out there. But, according to their earnings, you can get a gist of it. For instance, N0tail, aka Johan Sundstein, is one of the most paid “Dota 2” players in the world. People would think that for “Fortnite” it would be Ninja, but nope — it’s Bugha, aka Kyle Giersdorf.
It’s quite insane how the internet changed the gaming industry in the past years. And it will only keep on growing. It really is unpredictable what will happen with gaming and e-sports. Now, everybody is focusing on the next big thing — VR. Maybe soon we will be able to lay in our beds with headgear and enjoy playing games and perhaps even competing in a world championship e-sports tournament!