E-sports – from the very beginning to the present day.
There is still a debate about whether professional gaming can be considered a real sport, and everyone has a different answer to this question. However, it is undeniable that e-sports has grown into a serious industry over the years.
What is e-sports? You can ask the one-time player or the completely lay observer who just got a glimpse of a professional League of Legends match. Many would just swear that “a few dice play and see themselves as athletes,” but the reality is much more nuanced than that, and anyone who takes the trouble to look it up can come across some very exciting things.
There are plenty of aspects to e-sports, apart from a few ground rules, we need to look at virtually every game from a completely different perspective if we want to understand what’s going on on the screen. We could talk about the smallest details for a very long time, because this scene has already developed in many directions, but there is one thing in common: the past.
All beginnings are difficult
Let’s start with a little history lesson. After the advent of video games, it didn’t take long for people to start looking for competition in this as well. In 1972, students at Stanford University in California created Stac Russell’s Spacewar! They were able to compete for each other in a space combat simulator called Rolling Stone magazine, which was nothing more than a one-year Rolling Stone magazine subscription.
The first major event was the Atari-organized Space Invaders Tournament in 1980. More than ten thousand people took up the fight against the attacking pixels and tried to get the highest score.
In 1990, Nintendo hosted tournaments in several cities in the United States, and the finals of the series took place in Hollywood. A few years later, with the spread of the internet, online games also appeared, bringing a radical change to an industry that was still in its infancy.
When they started taking LAN parties seriously
The big pioneers of modern e-sports, the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) and the AMD Professional Gamers League, were formed in the late 1990s, and the first QuakeCon was held.
However, the surge did not occur until the 2000s. There was a struggle for more and more cash prizes, and the number of spectators also gradually increased. There are still active players in the scene today, such as Major League Gaming (MLG) or the Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA).
Soon the first teams were formed to embrace the professional players together with sponsoring companies, and divisions were formed for various competitive games. Such a partnership generally favored both parties, as the player was given the opportunity to take part in major tournaments and the team he represented was able to gain fame and profit after a win. Slowly but surely, e-sports began to “grow up” and become popular, with all its pros and cons.
Not only the game is important, but also the garnish
Today, journalists specialize in the topic, analysts talk about the starters as part of a studio show before the major leagues, and professional commentators broadcast the matches. Compared to the humble beginnings, fans of the scene can now see very high-quality productions. Many sports channels have also included e-sports games, and there have been many examples of viewers being able to cheer for their favorite teams not only on the Internet but also on TV screens.
The emergence of online streaming services has also contributed greatly to the popularity of e-sports. On a daily basis, thousands of videographers broadcast their games live to millions of viewers, but those interested can also follow major e-sports events on dedicated websites.
If you play well, we pay, if not
It’s also worth mentioning a few words about the professional players, as they no longer play purely as a hobby, it has become a job for most of them to be paid monthly. There have also been many examples of a major sports club acquiring an e-sports team and treating players in the same way as other athletes, and even raising their monthly earnings.
But not only can pros earn money from this, they can also pocket huge sums of money for good performance in tournaments, and there are royalties for advertising and streaming sponsors.
Let’s do a little math!
Like most popular sports today, e-sports initially attracted little interest, but in recent years, viewership and annual revenue have grown rapidly. In 2015, the industry generated nearly $ 500 million, most of which was accounted for by Asia, but not far behind by North America and Europe.
Most analysts agree that this growth will continue in the coming years and could reach as much as $ 1 billion in revenue by 2019. Of course, this may not seem like a big deal when compared to other sports, but it should also be borne in mind that e-sport has been on the market for barely two decades.
Fair play please!
Unfortunately, popularity also has its downsides, as it didn’t take long for the first scammers to show up and tarnish the reputation of e-sports. It’s enough to think of the pre-recorded South Korean StarCraft 2 matches, after which twelve people were detained. It also happened that three CS: GO players were scammed by the Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) system a few days before the Dreamhack Winter 2014 tournament, so they were disqualified and their teams waved goodbye to them.
E-sports have been included in the offerings of several bookmakers, and many have tried to abuse it. The case where a North American team bet against itself in 2014 and then deliberately lost the match received a lot of response, with players taking part in it still not being able to compete in official Valve-sponsored tournaments.
Guys, can I come play?
E-sports has come a long way from magazine subscriptions to millions in cash prizes, and the adventure is far from over. More and more game developers are joining the party, organizing their own events and more and more new games are appearing year after year in the already saturated market. In many new games, multiplayer mode is becoming more prominent, and some have already become popular, but there are several that have the potential to become serious e-sports games later on.
However, unfortunately, many people are still skeptical about the industry’s presence, and even among gamers, there are those who are not very friends with the concept of e-sports. In terms of competition, it is the same as sports in the traditional sense, and the games are so different that they would even fit into sports, but the letter “e” in front of the word symbolizes that it is something else.
Hopefully the day is near when e-sports will take its place in the public consciousness and skeptics will finally accept the fact that video gaming is no longer just a hobby for kids.
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