It is generally accepted that eSports began in 1980 with Atari’s Space Invaders Championship in the US. This event attracted more than 10,000 competitors and led to the foundation later that year of Twin Galaxies.
Set up by Walter Day, this organization kept a record of and published high scores. Twin Galaxies went on to create the US National Video Game Team in 1983 and set up competitions such as North American Video Game Challenge tournament.
The Big Prizes of the 1990s
1997’s Red Annihilation Quake tournament was considered by many to be the first proper eSports tournament and only a few weeks after Red Annihilation, one of the first major leagues for gamers was set up – the Cyberathlete Professional League.
Within a year, the CPL was offering gamers $15,000 in prize money. Many other big tournaments and leagues were also set up throughout the 1990s. However, these all mainly focused on first person shooters, sports and older arcade-style games.
The next eSports milestone occurred with the release of the hugely popular real-time strategy (RTS) game StarCraft: Brood War. In contrast to older style games that rely on fast reflexes, RTS requires thought and planning.
Indeed eSports enthusiasts have compared RTS games to chess. In StarCraft players had to marshal opposing armies and devise their own strategies. The game proved to be one of the main driving forces behind the popular development eSports.
The 2000s also saw a rise in big money prizes on offer and the growth of televised tournaments.
Since then the popularity of eSports has rocketed, with more professional players, regular international competitions and big prize money available, let’s take a look how far eSports has come with this infographic from Computer Planet: