Brief history of eSports
Before the PC age, video games were only really making waves in the media in the context of novelty.
In 1985, Billy Michell was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the record holder for high scores on six arcade games including Pac-man and Donkey Kong. In the early 80s, Starcade aired 433 episodes where competitors faced off head-to-head in arcade games. Other similar concepts would crop up, including video and arcade top 10 in Canada, Game Master in the UK, and Amazing in Australia.
In 1997, Denis Thresh Fong won ID software CEO John Carmacks Ferrari 328 at the red annihilation quake tournament. The event which was hosted at E3 is widely considered as the first ever Esports tournament and Thresh himself is often called the first professional gamer.
Over the next decade or so, televisions and sports would continue to brush shoulders. But it only really caught on Korea. By the year 2000, there were two 24-hour channels for televised eSports and other gaming content. In 2006, MLG took a shot at TV broadcasting their MLG 2006 pro circuit featuring halo on the USA network. But it didn’t catch on.
In 2011, when Justin.tv launched a spinoff platform called Twitch.tv specifically for their gaming section, everything changed. Twitch became the most popular streaming platform on the planet and eSports viewership numbers would explode.
League of Legends is the most popular game right now, with 27 million daily active users and 67 million monthly active users. Riot hosts League of Legends world championship in Staples Center in LA at the end of each season and the ticket usually sold out in mins. In 2015, 36 million unique viewers would tune in to watch Faker and SK Telecom T1 take home the trophy. The incredible feat which would beat out not only the 2015 NBA finals for 23 million, but the 2015 World Series (MLB) for 17 million, and 2015 NHL finals of 8 million. In 2016, 43 million watched LoL, but 31 million watched NBA. Another example, Dota II tournament in Seattle with the first place of $6.5 million, twice as much as the prize for US open.
eSports is no longer s subculture of gaming community. but its massive and legitimate form of entertainment.
By the end of 2016, a plethora of notable organizations and sports stars like the Philadelphia 76ers, co-owner of Sacramento Kings, FC Shalke, Rick Fox, Alex Rodriguez, Shaq, and Magic Johnson would all be invested in the space. 2017 continues to bring in the big names with FC Copenhagen, the Miami Heats, and co-owner of Milwaukee Bucks, all getting involved early this year.