When Did Esports Begin?

Esports have been around for quite a while, with the first official tournament taking place all the way back in 1972. However, it was only in recent years that esports began to gain mainstream popularity. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the history of esports and how it has evolved over the years.


The history of esports is shrouded in a bit of mystery. While most people can agree that competitive video gaming has been around for almost as long as video games themselves, there is no real consensus on when esports as we know them today began.

One of the earliest and most popular theoryGame footage of Starcade, one of the earliest recorded esports events in North America. posits that esports began in 1972 with the introduction of the game Spacewar!. According to this theory, the very first esports event was held at Stanford University, where students competed against each other in a Spacewar! tournament.

While this story is certainly compelling, there is no real evidence to support it. In fact, the earliest recorded esports event took place nearly a decade later in 1980, when Atari held the Space Invaders Championship. This event drew in over 10,000 participants from across the United States and was featured on national television.

From there, competitive gaming continued to grow in popularity. The 1990s saw the rise of arcade gaming leagues like the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) and the formation of professional organizations like Major League Gaming (MLG). And by the early 2000s, competitive gaming had gone global, with tournaments being held all over the world.

Today, esports is more popular than ever before. Millions of people around the globe tune in to watch professional gamers compete in some of the most popular games on the market, including League of Legends, Dota 2, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. And with prize pools often reaching into the millions of dollars, professional gaming has become a viable career option for many talented players.

The First Esports Tournaments

The first esports tournament was held in 1972 at Stanford University for the game Spacewar. Twenty-four students competed for a grand prize of a year-long subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. Esports began to gain popularity in the 1990s with the rise of internet connectivity and the growth of computer gaming.

The Red Annihilation Quake Tournament

The first esports tournament was held in 1997 for the game Quake. The event, called The Red Annihilation Quake Tournament, was hosted by Craig “Segeant” Levine and was held in his apartment in Alabama. There were 22 people who competed in the tournament, with the winner taking home a Toyota Celica.

The Cyberathlete Professional League

The first Esports tournament took place in October of 1972 at Stanford University. Twenty-eight competitors played a game called Spacewar. The grand prize was a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.

The first serious Esports organization was the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), which was founded in 1997. The CPL held its first tournament in Dallas, Texas with a prize pool of $15,000. The games played at the tournament were Quake and Red Annihilation.

In the early 2000s, esports began to gain more mainstream attention. In 2002, the World Cyber Games (WCG) was founded. The WCG was an international esports tournament that had participants from all over the world. The games played at the WCG were Counter-Strike, Starcraft: Brood War, and Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.

The early 2000s was also when esports started to be broadcast on television. In 2003, ESPN2 aired the finals of the CPL World Championships on TV. This was a big moment for esports because it showed that esports could be viewed as a legitimate sport by the mainstream media.

Today, esports is a multi-billion dollar industry with tournaments being held all over the world. The biggest tournaments have prize pools that exceed $20 million dollars.

The Rise of Esports

Esports, also known as electronic sports, competitive (video) gaming, or pro gaming, is a form of sport where the primary goal is to win a competition, usually by playing video games. The term “esports” covers a wide range of video games across different platforms, including PC, console, and mobile. It is typically played in teams of five or more, with each player having a specific role on the team.

The Release of Counter-Strike

The release of Counter-Strike in November of 2000 was a seminal moment in the history of esports. A mod for the game Half-Life, Counter-Strike was developed by Minh Le and Jess Cliffe. The game quickly became popular within the small but passionate Half-Life community.

The popularity of Counter-Strike led to the formation of professional teams and organized leagues. The first major tournament was fragbite Masters, held in Sweden in April 2013. The prize pool was $12,000 and the victory went to NiP, one of the most iconic Counter-Strike teams of all time.

Since then, esports has exploded in popularity. Today, there are professional leagues for nearly every popular esport, including League of Legends, Dota 2, Overwatch, and CS:GO. Tournaments frequently offer multimillion-dollar prize pools and attract tens of millions of viewers from all over the world.

The Growth of Twitch

Since its launch in 2011, Twitch has grown exponentially. The live streaming platform originally focused on video games but has since expanded to include a wider range of content, including music, art, and even cooking. Twitch is now one of the most popular sites on the internet, with over 15 million daily active users.

Twitch’s popularity is due in large part to its focus on interactivity. Streamers often chat with their viewers and take requests, making the experience more personal and engaging than simply watching a traditional TV program or movie. This interactivity has led to a strong sense of community among Twitch users, which has helped the platform thrive.

Twitch’s growth has had a major impact on the world of esports. The platform has become a central hub for competitive gaming, with many of the world’s top players streaming their matches live on Twitch. In addition, Twitch’s partnership with Riot Games (the developer of League of Legends) has helped to make esports more mainstream and accessible to a wider audience.

The rise of Twitch has also led to an increase in investment in the esports industry. Venture capitalists have poured billions of dollars into esports startups in recent years, and traditional sports teams have begun to get involved as well. With more people than ever tuning in to watch competitive gaming, it’s safe to say that esports is here to stay.


So when did esports really begin? It’s hard to say for sure. Some people trace it back to 1972, when students at Stanford University played a game of Spacewar! in front of an audience. Others point to the 1980s, when arcade games became more popular and people started playing them competitively.

Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear: esports have come a long way since their humble beginnings. Today, they are a multimillion-dollar industry with a global audience of millions. And they show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Similar Posts