E-sport - what is it, its history and popularity?

The struggles of professional gamers are growing in popularity and this is literally true all over the world. But how did it all begin?

It is difficult to find a clear, dictionary definition of esports, as the term has not yet been standardized in any way by linguists. However, it is not so complicated that one could not create such a definition oneself. Esport is a competition between individual players or teams in video games. The aim of such a duel is to defeat the opponent. Duels can take place either over the internet or LAN, or offline on computers or consoles. Just like players seeking the thrill of competition in esports, online gaming enthusiasts often look for exciting opportunities such as the Richard casino no deposit bonus, which offers a chance to engage in gaming without initial investment, much like entering an esports competition without an entry fee.

The first video game tournament

Interestingly, the origins of esports go back as far as 1972. It was then that a video game tournament was first organised at Stanford University. In this case, it was a space shooter called Spacewar. It was created in 1962 by four MIT students. One of them was Steve Russell - one of the pioneers of the gaming industry, who received the Game Developers Choice Awards for his contributions in 2013. Spacewar is also regarded as one of the first video games ever made.

The 1980s

However, a major breakthrough in esports history occurs in 1981. This is when Atari organises a nationwide tournament called The Space Invaders Championship. As you can easily guess, this was a competition to play The Space Inviders. The goal was one - to get the highest possible score. As many as 10,000 players from all over the United States took part in the tournament, which exceeded any expectations of the organisers. But it didn't stop there. The 1980s started a real fashion for games. Major American magazines, such as Time, began to write about them. The Starcade tournament, in which the task was to achieve the best possible score, appeared on television. The Guinness Book of World Records began to publish the best results of players from all over the world. Particularly famous at the time was Bill Mitchell, who - in 1985 - held records for as many as six games, including Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.

The 1990s

However, the growing popularity of games and the increasing number of tournaments were nothing compared to what happened in the 1990s. It was then that the Internet appeared, making competition between players from all over the world possible. Although, at first, the opportunities were not as great as they are now, the fact remains that, thanks to the worldwide web, esports was able to spread its wings and become a real phenomenon. This can be seen in the number of tournaments that have been organised in these years. This is when such well-known events as QuakeCon and the Professional Gamers League were established, with players competing in Counter-Strike and Warcraft, among others. Nintendo also began to organise its own tournaments for gamers under the name Nintendo World Championships. In 1994, an esports organisation called DreamHack was founded, which still organises some of the biggest tournaments in the world, including DreamHack Winter and DreamHack Summer.

The 21st century

The entire 21st century has seen the ever-growing popularity of esports around the world. Big organisations such as the ESL (Eletronic Sports League) and ESEA (E-Sports Entertainment Association League) are being established. Today, all these organisations - ESL, ESEA and DreamHack - are owned by the Swedish company Modern Times Group. In 2002, the American organisation MLG (Major League Gaming) is also established, which has been owned by Activision Blizzard since January 2016. The 21st century also saw the first editions of such well-known tournaments as Intel Extreme Masters and World Cyber Games. The latter ended in early 2014. A significant contribution to the popularisation of esports was also made by streaming services - Justin.tv, which eventually evolved into Twitch.tv.

The popularity of esports

Today, esports can confidently compete - in terms of popularity - with many sports. Twitch's statistics show this brilliantly. From July to December 2015 alone, viewers devoted a total of as many as 475 million hours to watching esports struggles. And that's just 21 per cent of the service's total viewership. MOBA games (League of Legends and Dota 2) are the most popular, claiming a total of 58 per cent of that time. In second place is Counter-Strike with 27 per cent. Another 10 per cent of the audience is collected by strategy games (StarCarft 2, Age of Empires 2: The Conquerors and Heartstone), and the remaining 5 per cent are brawlers, MMORPGs, etc. This can also be seen from the viewership of specific matches.

The final match of the 2016 MLG Columbus tournament in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive between Luminosity and Natus Vincere was watched by 1.3 million people worldwide. IEM 2016 in Katowice alone attracted 113,000 people to the Spodek, and the competition - in one weekend - was watched by as many as 34 million unique users. By comparison, the 2014 Champions League final was watched by 380 million viewers worldwide. On the one hand, the difference seems huge, but after all, we are comparing an esports competition to the most popular sport in the world! The ever-so-popular Super Bowl final is watched by around 115 million people, which is only a little over three times more than IEM in Katowice!

Conclusion

From its humble beginnings at Stanford University to the spectacular global competitions of today, esports has transformed from a niche hobby into a worldwide phenomenon that rivals traditional sports in viewership and passion. Its growth can be attributed not only to technological advancements, such as the rise of the Internet and streaming platforms like Twitch, but also to a cultural shift where video gaming has become a legitimate career path and a respected competitive discipline.

Esports continues to break viewership records, attracting millions of viewers and creating a dynamic community of players, fans, and sponsors. With universities now offering scholarships for esports and cities bidding to host major tournaments, the integration of esports into mainstream culture is undeniable. Furthermore, its inclusion in global events like the Asian Games as a medal sport signals a promising direction towards potential Olympic recognition.

As we look to the future, the trajectory of esports suggests even greater expansion. Innovations in gaming technology, broader accessibility, and increasing recognition of esports as a professional sport are likely to propel its popularity to new heights. The community, once a small group of dedicated gamers, now encompasses a global audience, all united by their love for competitive gaming. As the boundaries between traditional sports and esports continue to blur, the possibilities for this vibrant and evolving industry seem limitless.