The Rise of Esports: History, Dominant Disciplines and Future Prospects

Esports, or electronic sports, is the competitive world of video games in which individual players and teams battle it out in a variety of game disciplines at the professional level. Over the past two decades, esports has evolved from a youth hobby into a major sector of the global entertainment industry, captivating millions of fans and changing the way we think about competitive sports.

Even now, in countries such as South Korea or Japan, esports athletes are on par with classic athletes, with fame among fans and huge fees. And this trend continues to develop, with e-sports competing with classic sports such as soccer or basketball, gaining the attention of more and more audiences every day. Let’s learn more about the cybersports industry, how it came about, how it has evolved and what are the trends in its development.

History of Esports

  • 1970s. The concept of esports has roots that date back to the early 1970s when the first known video game competition took place at Stanford University involving the game «Spacewar». This was the beginnings of what would later transform into a structured competitive scene.
  • 1980s. By that time, video game competitions had become popularized by arcade games. Atari held a Space Invaders championship that attracted over 10,000 competitors across the United States.
  • 1990s. This period saw the emergence of networked and online games, which played a crucial role in the development of esports by allowing players from different locations to compete virtually. Tournaments with cash prizes began to be held on games such as «Quake», marking the beginning of professional gaming sports.
  • 2000s. In the beginning of the new millennium, the creation of leagues and organizations such as Major League Gaming (MLG) in North America made esports legal by providing a platform for legitimate competitions.
  • 2010s. The expansion of live-streaming services such as Twitch further brought esports into the spotlight by allowing viewers from around the world to watch tournaments live, greatly expanding its reach and potential for gamer fame.

Main Disciplines in Esports

Esports encompasses many game genres, each with its own set of rules and formats. Each discipline differs in the set of abilities required of players and ranges from strategic thinking and teamwork, to lightning-fast reactions or even mathematical calculation.

The most dominant esports disciplines include:

  • Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas (MOBAs): «League of Legends», «Dota 2». These games are renowned for their strategic depth and large-scale tournaments such as the League of Legends World Championship and The International for Dota 2, which offer multimillion-dollar prize pools.
  • First-Person Shooters (FPS): «Counter-Strike: Global Offensive», «Overwatch». These are celebrated for their fast-paced action and tactical gameplay, holding prestigious events like the CS:GO Majors and the Overwatch League.
  • Real-Time Strategy (RTS): «StarCraft II», «Warcraft III», «Age of Empires». These are not very popular nowadays, but have been crucial for shaping the esports landscape at the beginning. Still popular among true lovers of the genre.

World championships are regularly held in each of their disciplines, gathering millions of fans around the world in front of their screens. It has already become not only a business, but also a cultural phenomenon, influencing the worldview of younger generations.

Popularity Around the World

There has been an exponential growth in the audience and participation of esports across the globe. Asia, North America and Europe have become key regions for the development of the esports market, with South Korea often considered the mecca of esports due to its structured leagues and government support. The global esports audience is estimated to be in the hundreds of millions, with a significant portion of them being active participants themselves.

Major tournaments now rival traditional sporting events in terms of viewership and quality of preparation, are widely covered by the media and enjoy corporate sponsorship. Esports is also firmly embedded in popular culture, with athletes, celebrities and major sports brands investing in and supporting various teams and events. Merch of favorite teams, various gadgets with symbols of games and players are sold online in huge quantities, supporting the economy and offering new options for the development of the industry.

Future of Esports

The future of esports appears promising, as advances in technology such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence have the potential to change the way games are viewed and played. The integration of esports into educational programs and its recognition as a legitimate sport hint at even greater adoption in institutions and culture. As the industry professionalizes, the potential for growth in new markets and demographics seems limitless.

A huge surge in the popularity of esports was seen during Covid-19. Many people around the world were forced to limit their time in crowded places, which contributed to a large influx of new players and spectators for the esports arena. The growing trend can still be seen now, due to the influx of young people into the field.

Join Global Movement!

Esports has evolved from humble beginnings into a cornerstone of modern entertainment, and a strong and bright future awaits. Its influence on the global entertainment landscape continues to grow, proving that esports is not just a passing trend, but a sporting revolution. The future has already begun and there is no stopping it. Many bloggers, businessmen and opinion leaders are looking to take their place in the thriving niche. Find your place in the unique and exciting world of esports. You can become a promising cyber athlete, or gain fame as a blogger reviewing tournaments. Maybe you have exceptional management skills and can manage an esports team. Who knows?

The choice is yours!