Computer games have revolutionized the way we look at sports and competitions. At its inception, esports was not recognized at all, and after a few years, it was laughed at. Calling something sports would require that to have a physical level of performance.
Two decades later, give or take a few years, and the Olympic Committee was thinking of introducing esports into the Olympic Games, but have yet to do so, due to the very violent nature of some video games, which go against the core principles of the Olympic Games.
Today, esports is something that people often bet on, as they do on other sports. Given that there are very large tournaments in a couple of very popular video games, the amount of money going being earned by bookmakers and sponsors is baffling.
The Inception of Esports
Esports started way back in the late 70s and early 80s, with Space Invaders and local competitions as to who will have the best high score. The 90s saw a great rise in esports, specifically due to Street Fighter II, which popularized the one vs one format, which is still active, though Street Fighter V and other modern fighting games are played.
Quake is the game which started QuakeCon, a very famous convention, which also lead to another game, namely Counter-Strike, becoming popular. The 90s also saw some very popular strategy games like Warcraft II and Dune II. A very popular, though niche game, was Heroes III of Might and Magic, a part of the Might & Magic universe.
The Growing Popularity of Esports
Esports became more popular during the 2000s because those years marked the widespread availability of DSL internet connections. People had access to the internet and were able to play some video games at a somewhat acceptable level, with less lag and stutter than before.
The decade also marked the creation of some very important video games like Warcraft III and its popular map/mod DotA. Counter-Strike was already an esport title at the time and 2009 saw the release of League of Legends, one of the most popular esports titles today. Even though esports were nowhere near their popularity in the 2000s as they are today, some of the games which were released during that time still remain some of the most inspiring titles, cornerstones of modern esports.
Modern Esports – MOBAs, Shooters and Fighters
Among the most popular esports titles today are shooters like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and the newcomer, Apex Legends.
Popular MOBAs include League of Legends and DOTA 2. Fighting games played today are Street Fighter V, the Tekken series, Soul Calibur series, Marvel vs Capcom series and Super Smash Bros.
Today, however, compared to a decade ago, professional esports athletes get paid a lot of money, have their own brand names and oftentimes stream alongside doing their professional work and thus earn even more money. Likewise, many of the professional players are prone to various health risks like wrist injuries and back injuries.
Most would argue that competing at a professional level is worth those injuries, especially when you consider that some tournaments have a prize pool of 5 million dollars. That does require a lot of commitment and teamwork, but the same could be said of any team sport.
Esports is growing and with the Olympic Committee looking at it as a potential candidate, it can only move upwards.