What was the first esports tournament actually?
With games like League of Legends, CS:GO or Valorant, e-sports are now an elementary part of gaming. But in which game was actually played the first tournament? And what was the first major esports event? We’ll tell you.
What counts as the first esports match? Opinions differ here, because basically two events are seen as the origin of e-sports:
- In 1958, Instrumentation Higinbotham presented the first video game for two players – “Tennis for Two”. This could also be played against each other at the open house, which some see as the beginning of competitive gaming and thus the first e-sports match.
- On October 19, 1972 there was the first major tournament between several players. Stanford University students competed in the “Intergalactic Olympiad” in the game Spacewar.
What was the Intergalactic Olympiad? In the game Spacewar you play one-on-one. Each player controls a spaceship that is slowly pulled towards the center by a gravitational field. With the press of a button, players can jump into hyperspace and land at a random location on the screen. They can also shoot, and the projectiles are also attracted to the star.
The goal is to survive longer than the opponent. It was played on a PDP-1 computer.
About 25 players took part in the tournament, which consisted of two events: a one-on-one tournament and a team event. First place was awarded a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone magazine. The team event winners were Slim Tovar and Robert E. Maas; the individual tournament was won by Bruce Baumgart.
You can get an insight into Spacewar in this YouTube video:
Premier Leagues in the 90’s and the World Cyber Games
How has esports evolved? The first major tournament series was in 1980. At that time, Atari held a tournament in the game “Space Invaders”. This event ran for 3 months and more than 10,000 players took part. Here, however, they did not play directly against each other, but high scores were hunted.
It was also the first tournament that could be played from the home console, the Atari 2600. However, the players were flown in for the final. It was won by Rebecca Heineman, who played Space Invaders for an hour and 45 minutes.
Then in the 1990s, LAN parties became more popular and the internet became more important. In Germany, the first leagues were formed, such as the DeCL – the German Clan League – from which the ESL later emerged.
Tournaments mostly revolved around titles like Doom, Quake or later StarCraft, Warcraft and FIFA.
The first professional gamer: In the Guinness Book of Records, America’s Dennis “Tresh” Fong is the first professional gamer (via guiness world records). He won a Quake tournament in 1997, winning developer John Carmack’s Ferrari. That earned him this title.
You can learn more about Thresh and his story in this YouTube video:
The first international tournament: Another important milestone in the history of e-sports was the World Cyber Games, which took place in Seoul for the first time in 2000. 174 players from 17 different nations took part in the event and played for a total prize money of 200,000 dollars.
The four games were part of the tournament back then:
- Age of Empires
In 2001, 430 players from 37 nations took part. The video games Counter Strike and Unreal Tournament were new additions. The World Cyber Games were held every year until 2013, in 2008 even in Cologne.
Other major tournaments followed, such as the Intel Extreme Masters, Major League Gaming and Dreamchack.
For a short time there were even many video game broadcasts on television. In Germany, for example, the TV channel GIGA took care of it, which was shut down in 2009, in Great Britain the channel xleague, which ran from 2007 to 2009, and in the USA Madden NFL tournaments from 2005 to 2008 were shown on the associated sports channel.
In the meantime, however, most transmissions relating to e-sports take place on streaming channels such as Twitch or YouTube.
How does it look today? Today, e-sports in gaming is hard to imagine. League of Legends in particular attracts millions every year with the World Cup. But Valorant, FIFA and many other titles are also played competitively.
The sums that are paid out are enormous. DOTA 2 has the highest prize money. In recent years, 20 to 40 million dollars have been waving for the big tournament “The International”.
One professional made headlines because when he was 17 he explained to his mother what he wanted to achieve, and he has done just that:
DOTA 2: 17-Year-Old Explains Mom Perfectly Why He’s Going Gaming Pro – Now Wins $20M Tournament