01_cover_The History of eSports Gaming Events

The History of Esports Gaming Events

Any gamer would know the phenomenon that is esports gaming events. But after all the controversy about whether or not it is an actual sport, do you actually know how it came to be the widely loved sports event that has epic annual gaming events yearly?

If you are not very familiar with this, then worry not, for you can read all about it below.

The Birth of Arcade Games

02_ The Birth of Arcade Games

If you’re thinking “What does arcade gaming have to do with esports Gaming Events?”, then you’ll be surprised to find out how the classic arcade helped paved the way for the huge esports gaming events that take the world by storm today!


The first arcade game, Computer Space, was released in 1971 by Nutting Associates. The second one, which is the iconic Pong, was then launched by Atari in 1972. These two games were made by Nolan Bushnell – the godfather of gaming! He was originally from Nutting Associates but left to put up Atari. This was a great move because Pong became a hit! It was retailed at $1,095.00 in 1973. Despite its expensive price, malls, bowling alleys, and bars all over the world still bought it. It even came out in a home version sold exclusively by Sears at the time (it had the Sears logo). This allowed people to take the hit game home, making Pong a bigger success!


Because of Atari’s success in both arcade and home consoles, many businessmen began to see it as a big business opportunity. Between 1972 and 1985, 15 gaming companies began to develop games, which made the whole gaming and arcade industry even bigger.


A Culture of Competition

With arcade games booming, it naturally created a culture of competition, especially because of the high score system, wherein the world’s first gamers would fight for the top spot! This was the first version of esports.


However, these would be limited to just one screen. The very first multi-screen multiplayer game was Empire, which came out in 1973 and allowed 8 players to play on their own individual screens at once. This was made possible with the PLATO system. Empire became so popular that there were 300,000 recorded playing hours on this game from 1978 to 1985.


Also, in 1973, Jim Bowery released Spasim, which was also made for PLATO. This was a massive 32-player space shooter game that was widely considered to be the very first 3D game.


Although PLATO was expensive, it was the first form of internet and massive multiplayer gaming that allowed people to be competitive in-game.


Arcade Tournaments and World Championships and Records

03_Arcade Tournaments and World Championships & Records

Since arcade games made this culture of competition, Bushnell and Atari decided to hold the very first official large-scale video game competition in 1980. This was the Space Invaders Tournament and it had more than 10,000 participants! This event was the very first esports gaming event in the world, even though at that time it was not recognized as such. Since then, gaming has become a mainstream hobby.


In the same year, Twin Galaxies was founded by Walter Day, which was an organization that recorded the global high scores for all games. Then, in 1983, the organization created the U.S. National Video Game Team. This is the team that ran the Video Game Masters Tournament in collaboration with Guinness. In the 1985 Guinness book, Billy Mitchell held the global high score for six games, including Donkey Kong and Pac-Man.


It was also in this era where the first televised esports show ran from 1982-1984. This was called Starcade and it had a total of 133 episodes. The basic idea of the show was for contestants to try to beat each other’s high scores. Aside from this, games were also featured in TV and movies; the most notable of which is Tron, which is a movie in 1982 that featured a literal world of games.


By the 1980s and 90s, these gaming tournaments became much more common – whether they are official or not – in the arcade or on home consoles. There were also competitions with certain brackets for adults, teenagers, and children; even the LIFE magazine took notice and featured this phenomenon on a few of its issues.


The Rise of PC Games and the First Esports Gaming Events

Eventually, in the 1990, people wanted an even bigger tournament to find out who was the best player at that time. Because of this, Nintendo held the world’s first World Championship gaming tournament! This toured all over the United States. The championship match happened in Universal Studio Hollywood. At the same year, Blockbuster Video held its own tournament, the World Game Championship, with the help of GamePro Magazine. This allowed gamers from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, and Chile to compete.


Meanwhile, along with the rise of the internet was the rise of PC games. Because of the internet, online PC games became the next big thing for gamers. The first one was Netrek, which was an internet shooting game that could be played by up to 16 players. This was considered to be the very “first online sports game,” as quoted from an issue of Wired Magazine in 1993.


Then, Nintendo held the 2nd World Championships in 1994. This was called the Nintendo PowerFest ’94, which was won by Mike Iarossi. He was able to  beat 132 other finalists. The games played here included NBA Jam and Virtua Racing.


But in the world of PC games, Quake became one of the most popular online PC games you could play. Eventually, there was a competition created for it in 1997, which was called the Red Annihilation Tournament. This is widely considered to be the very first official esports gaming event ever. Over 2,000 people took part in this and the prize was the personal Ferrari of John Carmack, the lead producer of Quake.


Only a few weeks after this competition, the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) was born. This was one of the first major gaming leagues ever founded during this period. Within 1997, they already created their first competitions, which featured tournaments for Counter-Strike, Quake, and Warcraft. By 1998, they were already offering big cash prizes in their tournaments ($15,000.00).


Other tournaments established in the 90s include:

  • QuakeCon
  • Professional Gamers League


Most esports gaming events and tournaments during this time focused on first-person shooter (FPS). But it was also during the late 90s that StarCraft: Brood War came out and became hit with gamers all over the world. This was a real time strategy (RTS) game whose franchise is still alive today with the line of StarCraft II games. While this is not the very first RTS in the world, it did become the most popular one to use for esports gaming events because of the limitless strategic possibilities. The game reached the peak of its popularity in 2000.


The Current and Steady Rise of Esports Gaming Events

04_The Current and Steady Rise of eSports Gaming Events

Back tracking a bit, in 1997, the Asian financial crisis hit. South Korea reacted by making a lot of broadband internet networks. This allowed many unemployed Koreans to pass the time by playing games. Eventually, games became a part of their culture. So much so that, in 2000, South Korea embraced esports by creating the Korean esports Association, which is part of their Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. Also, the PC Bang (PC Room) – Kompany-style internet café/LAN gaming center – became popular in the country.


Starting from 2000, esports gaming events have started to take the world by storm. It was in this year that both the World Cyber Games and the Electronic Sports World Cup were created. These are global competitions that are held every year. From this year to 2010, the number of yearly tournaments rose from 10 to 260! The presence of such gatherings made eSport gaming event a global phenomenon; similar to the NBA and MLB Playoffs.


This is a fitting comparison because, in 2002, Major League Gaming (MLG) was also created. The MLG was and remains to be the biggest and most successful esports league. It has tournaments for games coming from all genres – be it FPS, RTS, etc. Not to mention, they offer the biggest prize; in 2013, they gave prizes worth $170,000.00 to the individual winners of the competitions.


The 2006 MLG Halo 2 competition was also the very first esports gaming event that was featured on television! However, this didn’t get many views. Hence, nowadays, MLG broadcasts their tournaments online and this was shown to actually get the most views – even with thousands already in attendance at the actual event! In 2012, MLG Spring Championship managed to draw over 4 million viewers, which is more than the 2012 NBA All-Star Game!


Also in 2006, seven of the best Counter-Strike teams created G7 Teams. The founding teams were 4Kings, Fnatic, Made in Brazil, Mousesports, NiP, SK-Gaming, Team 3D. Together, they aimed to make esports a stable career. However, they would only stay together until 2009.


Another major tournament that arose during this time was the Global StarCraft II League (GSL). This was created in South Korea and is considered to be the best StarCraft II competition in the world. Ever since it was launched in 2010, the number of viewers is doubling every year. By 2013, the league had 50 million viewers worldwide.



Of course, for the esports industry to succeed, the tournaments need to feature those games that are enjoyable to watch.


For FPS, Halo and Call of Duty are favorites because they are fast-paced; high-intensity gameplay is something that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. For RTS, StarCraft II remains to be the top choice. This is because of the constant improvements to the gameplay make for better strategies.


However, you can’t mention esports without mentioning the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre. In this genre, the most popular game is Defense of the Ancients (DOTA). The name “DOTA” is almost synonymous to the word “esports.” The game was born from a modification (mod) to the RTS game, Warcraft III – another game by StarCraft developers, Blizzard Entertainment. This mod to the RTS game allowed players to only use one unit on the battlefield – a hero. The new mechanic forced players to team up with other players and use team strategies to beat their enemies.


Nowadays, the MOBA has become so popular that it has dominated the world of esports. In fact, a MOBA game, League of Legends (LoL) had 30 million players worldwide by 2009. The market for this in esports is so big that LoL competitions actually offer prizes worth millions of dollars! In fact, the 2012 Season Two World Championship had 8,000 attendees, 900,000 online viewers, and a grand prize of 5 million dollars.


Esports Broadcasting

05_eSports Broadcasting

The 2000s, in general, was a good year for games in terms of exposure on television. The list of TV shows that show esports include:

  1. OnGameNet
  2. MBCGame
  3. German GIGA Television
  5. ESL TV
  6. Game One
  7. Madden Nation
  8. G4 Television


However, the majority of these TV shows has since been shut down. This goes to show that the best avenue to watch esports games is online. In fact, the creation of Twitch in 2011 saw a rise in the viewing of esports. On 2013, Twitch recorded 12 billion minutes’ worth of LoL and DOTA streams.


How to Organize Your Own Esports Gaming Events?

If you’re looking to create your very own esports event, then the best team that can help you out is us, MET! We are a team with a broad experience in creating large-scale esports events. Not only do we organize tournaments, but conventions as well. A few of the big events under our belt are Pinoy Gaming Festival,  Mineski Pro Gaming League, CrossFire Stars Invitational and The Manila Masters. If you want to check out the other events we’ve done, then visit out our website here.


You’ll also find our list of specialty services that are centered around our passion and dedication for putting up the most epic gaming events that every gamer will love. Our services include event marketing, full production, studio rentals, streaming and broadcasting, event coverage, article features, etc.

Contact us today by filling out the form on this page and let’s talk about how we can make your dream event a reality.