E-Sports: History of E-Sports

By: Jo Kim

E-sports, short for electronic sports, is a term for competition among professionals. The first “e-sport” tournament started out as an arcade game tournament (Space Invaders Tournament) in 1980, hosted by Atari, and these arcade were commonly seen throughout the next decade.

Following the era of arcade gaming came the era of computer gaming. The first notable PC e-sport league was the Quake tournament.


In 1997, the first Quake tournament attracted around 2,000 players and offered a used Ferrari to the winner. Following this tournament, more tournaments were organized, and the first gaming league, Cyberathlete Professional League, was founded. In 2000, the World Cyber Games and Electronic Sports World Cup were both started, scheduled to be held annually. In 2002, MLG (Major League Gaming) was founded, featuring games of many genres, ranging from RTS (Real Time Strategy)to FPS (First Person Shooter). MLG also televised the first tournament in 2006 on the USA network; however, it failed to meet needed viewership to continue.



Unlike MLG, South Korea’s OGN (On-Game Network) succeeded in gathering the needed viewership for its televised matches of Starcraft: Brood War. Starcraft, following its release, gained huge followers in South Korea. Many players enjoyed it for its multiplayer system, and it soon became a mainstream PC game for the Koreans. As Starcraft gained more and more popularity, the OnGameNet gained more and more audiences. The Starcraft league grew rapidly, and it has catapulted electronic gaming into a major competitive sport in Korea. These events attracted around 50,000 fans




Following Starcraft’s success, the MOBA genre came into the media’s eyes. Most notably, the game, League of Legends, quickly became the most popular game. The first two tournaments of LoL were hosted by a third party. However, beginning with the third season, “Riot Games announced the formation of the LCS on 6 August 2012, creating a fully professional league with a regular schedule and guaranteed salaries for players. (Gamepedia.com).  The 2011 “LoL” tournament at Dreamhack is reported to have had over 1.6 million viewers worldwide. The following year, 2012’s “LoL” Season Two World Championship attracted eight thousand live viewers, 900,000 worldwide viewers, and a prize pool of over five million dollars (adanai).  This immense amount of popularity was not surprising, as according to a Forbes article, League of Legends was the officially most played game in the world by 2012 (http://www.forbes.com/sites/johngaudiosi/2012/07/11/riot-games-league-of-legends-officially-becomes-most-played-pc-game-in-the-world/).

Like with everything else, nothing stays forever. Like how League of Legends followed the Starcraft, which was preceded by the Arcade gaming era, the current MOBA era is destined to change as well. What type of game do you think will follow LoL/DotA? A new kind of genre?

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