When Did Esports Start?

The esports community is a rapidly growing one with millions of fans and billions of dollars up for grabs.

When Did Esports Start

Streaming services and live event companies have made casual gamers into professional players who can earn huge amounts of money and even get endorsement deals.

What is esports you ask? Esports is a world of competitive, organized video game playing.

Gamers compete in the same games that at-home gamers play – such as Fortnite, League Of Legends, Counter-Strike, Call Of Duty, Overwatch, and Madden Football, to name a few.

In this article, we are going to take a deep dive into the origins of esports.

By rewinding back to its inception in the early 1970s, you will have a greater understanding of the why behind how esports has become so incredibly popular today. 

Esports Overview

Esports traces its roots back to 1972 when there were 10,000 people playing Space Invaders. Fast-forward to 1998, and the legend of Starcraft 2 was born.

Fast forward to 2019 and the prize pool for the Dota 2 International exceeded $30 million.

Epic Games earmarked $100 million for the Fortnite World Cup, and professional Fortnite gamer Kyle Bugha Giersdorf won $3 million.

The rise of esports is due to the fact that people are becoming more interested in video games.

Video games are now being played by millions of people around the world. People are spending time playing these games instead of watching television or sleeping.

Early Development Of Esports

The 80s saw a lot of great games being released. Some of these include the NES, SNES, and Super Nintendo. Street Fighter II was one of the most popular games of the 90s.

Nintendo was one of the first companies to act on the potential of esports, launching their world championship in the 1990s, and they were successful in making video games much more accessible to everyone.

When Did Esports Global Tournaments Start?

When Did Esports Start

Esports grew in 1994 when Nintendo hosted the first world championship. This event had a massive number of spectators.

Road maps were created for esports events. Social media and regular tournaments developed. With the rise of the internet, esports became more popular

League of Legends World Championship is an annual tournament that takes place in different countries.

The growth of esports was influenced by the mass building of broadband Internet networks after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and this led to a high number of people watching online gaming tournaments.

Daigo Parry refers to a portion of the semi-finals of Street Fighter III: 3RD STRIKE. In April 2006, the G7 teams federation was formed by seven prominent teams.

Their goal was to increase stability in esports by standardizing player transfers and helping leagues and organizations.

The G7 teams federation was founded by Counter-Strike, Starcraft, DotA 2, League of Legends, Quake 3, Unreal Tournament 2004, and World of Warcraft.

The 2000s was an exciting time for televised esports. Starcraft and Brood War dominated the scene.

In the 2010s, esports continued to grow enormously, with more than 260 tournaments being held around the world.

Esports grew quickly after 2011. By 2013, there were over 12 billion minutes of video streamed on Twitch.

One of the most popular streams was League of Legends with over 1 million followers.

The largest independent esports league, Esports League, partnered with the Japanese gaming company, Japan Competitive Gaming, to try and grow esports.

Physical viewership of esports competitions grew along with online viewership. In 2013 the first Esports Arena opened in the US, becoming the first dedicated esports facility.

In 2015, the first esports arena opened in China, raising concerns over the future of esports in the country.

Is Esports Recognized As A Sport?

Esports are becoming more popular than ever before. The IOC recognizes them as a sport.

There are over 100 million people watching the games. This year, the number of viewers reached 113 million.

The IOC wants to incorporate esports as a new Olympic sports event. Esports has been tested by the IOC during exhibitions.

Esports is popular in Japan because of the country’s strong video game culture. It is possible to play esports without paying money, but some players do pay to improve their skills.

In recent years, esports competitions have become more popular than traditional sports.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has expressed interest in esports but hasn’t yet decided how to include them in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris will feature esports competitions. Esports will be part of the official program for the 2022 Asian Games held in Hangzhou, China.

The first edition of the Olympics was held in 2020. The second edition of the OVS will be held in 2022. There were over 2 million entries.

In 2022, esports will become an official sport in the Commonwealth games. The first Commonwealth Esports Championships will be held in 2026. Men and women compete together in this new sport.

When Did Esports Surge In Popularity?

ESPN ran a show called Madden nation from 2005 to 2008 while covering the 2007 world series of video games tournaments.

G4 TV channel was dedicated to video games coverage before expanding its scope into technology and general entertainment.

Other trends contributed to the overall dramatic growth of esports. Real-time strategy games to increase viewership, prize money, partnerships, dedicated tournaments, and professional league.

The Evo Moment 37 is an iconic moment in video game history. It’s heralded as arguably the biggest moment in video gaming history because of how many people were watching.

It’s also known as the “jaw-dropping comeback” when Street Fighter III: 3D Fight used up all of its health points while fighting off 15 consecutive attacks.


As is evidenced from this article, esports is a growing industry with staggering prize purses and sponsorship deals up for grabs.

This space where gamers can play all kinds of sports against the best in the world has created an incredibly competitive arena that, year in and year out, attracts spectators from all over the world.

By looking into the past we get a better grasp of the future, and the future of esports looks delightfully bright.

Ashley Newby