What is esports and how did it get started?
In all corners of the world, gamers are watching, playing, and competing in various aspects of the esports world. But what exactly is “Esports” and how did we get here. The term “esports” dates back to the early 2000s, initially shorthand for the word “Electronic Sports.” The esports genre includes all aspects of competitive gaming, whether it’s on the Mobile, console, or desktop platforms if there’s competition its a part of esports.
The most popular esports titles
There are several titles in the genre that are more popular than any of their competition. The best examples of this are Riot Games’ League of Legends for the MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre. Fortnite leads the way in the Battle Royale genre, with the game available around the world on platforms including mobile, desktop, and consoles. The third major genre is the classic shooter game genre. Within the shooter category, the competition is much closer in popularity.
To many, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) leads the way. The main argument for this is the longevity of the game at the top of the industry. The fourth edition of the Counter-Strike series is Global Offensive. This version of the game was released back in August of 2012, making it nearly eight years old. Throughout the years, very little changed about the recipe for success of CS: GO‘s. Valve, the company that created the game, only allows for minor updates, and the occasional map reworks throughout the year.
Earlier this year, Riot Games, the creators of League of Legends, entered the shooter game scene with their new title, Valorant. June 2, 2020, was the official release date for the new shooter game, and it took over a significant part of the shooter game scene. While Valorant’s esports scene is still developing, Riot Games is working hard to make Valorant a vital part of their esports empire. As of now, July 3, 2020, Riot Games partnered with many of the largest esports brands across the world to host the first series of official Valorant tournaments.
Starcraft, fallen but never forgotten
To fully understand what esports is, we have to go back to where it all began. Back in the early 2000s, the one popular competitive title at the time was Starcraft. At the time, Starcraft, namely Starcraft: Broodwars, was the first popular game catering to the more competitive players in the gaming world. With this, the strategies evolved, and the first large scale tournaments took place.
Many people consider Starcraft the first esports title. There are several reasons for this, including its success in countries such as South Korea. And the game’s popularity in the early streaming scenes. During this time, the idolization of the pro players started. The best example of these professional video game competitors’ early success is Lee Yun-Yeol, better known as NaDa. NaDa reportedly earned a total of $200,000 in 2005 from sponsorships, brand deals, and tournament prizes.
$200,000 in winnings was unheard of at the time. However, it is nothing compared to what the pro players earn nowadays in the esports world. Several western players in the League of Legends scene have contracts of over $1 Million a year to compete in the two major competitions, the LCS (League of Legends Championship Series) and the LEC (League of Legends European Championship).
At this time, Starcraft is no longer at the top of the esports scene. The tournaments for the latest edition of the game, Starcraft II, are becoming increasingly rare. However, the legacy of Starcraft is something the esports veterans will never forget. Without Starcraft, the esports world wouldn’t be where it is today, and we should be thankful to those who saw the potential of competitive gaming back then.
Esports, E-Sports, eSports or Electronic Sports
The spelling of the word “esports” is a hot topic within the industry and mainstream media. There are frequent arguments towards all possible ways to spell the word, some more sensible than others. “Esports” is derived from Electronic Sports, which was the original term for esports in the early 2000s. Of the four versions of the word “esports,” this one historically makes the most sense. However, as it is much longer than the other versions of the term, it is rarely used.
Of the four ways to spell the term, most people have an issue with “E-Sports.” There is a lot of frustration behind seeing this spelling of the word. The reason for this is that the traditional media refuses to correct the grammar of esports. Despite the esports community’s members correcting them frequently.
For a long time, the esports community saw this spelling of the word as an attempt to minimize the success of the esports world. The traditional media’s effort to reduce the success of esports is hilarious. When you consider the industry continues to grow by 20-25% (according to NewZoo) annually. On the other hand, traditional media continues to lose its costumers each passing year.
The two remaining ways to spell “esports” are both accepted, with people within the esports industry using both “Esports” and “eSports.”
The future of esports
A lot of the world is on hold due to the ongoing global pandemic. However, the esports industry is thriving and innovating rapidly. After a short break, several of the most significant esports Leagues moved their competitions online. A great example of this is the global League of Legends scene, which continued its play just weeks after the lockdowns started worldwide in March. Now, in July 2020, the competitions all around the world are ongoing, with broadcast staff hosting from the studios without an in-studio audience or with the on-air talent hosting the show from their homes.
This adaptability is part of the reason investors believe in the growing esports industry. Back in 2018, the financial services company Goldman Sachs published a report about the esports world. At the time, Goldman Sachs believed the esports industry could reach nearly $3 Billion in total annual revenue. So far the industry is growing quickly, going from $655 million in annual revenue to $1.1 Billion in 2019. Unlike many other industries worldwide, the esports industry is experiencing unmatched growth numbers due to the current global situation.
Since March 2020, many of the streaming services such as Twitch, have recorded record viewer numbers due to the increased amount of people staying at home. How this influx of people affects the esports industry over the coming years is hard to predict. However, some experts predict that the growth of the esports industry is accelerated and continues its upward trend throughout the coming years.