Part 2: Where is it now?
QuakeCon may not have been the first annual eSporting event, but it is one of the most notable and marks the beginning of modern eSports. Started the same year Quake was released – 1996 – QuakeCon is an annual gaming convention that was set up by ZeniMax Media, to promote the many titles the developers had produced and to bring gamers together. QuakeCon focused more on the competition than the promotion of products, with free entrance for everyone except those joining the BYOC (bring-your-own-computer) championship. Last year, competitors battled it out over video game Quake Live for a share of the $41,000 (£26,273) cash prize.
At this point eSports were primarily fast-paced first-person-shooters, like Quake, with few exceptions. But by the start of the 21st century, competitive real-time strategy game popularity started to spread across South Korea like wildfire, with dedicated eSport television channels showing such games as Starcraft and Warcraft III. Korea is not the only country to have hosted dedicated eSports channels. From as early as 2005, Germany, France, the UK and US have had on-off channels providing coverage of eSports.
The most recent – and by far the most popular – genre of eSport is Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). This genre evolved from the RTS genre thanks to the PC modding community; by combining a Starcraft custom map (Aeon of Strife) with the Warcraft III World Editor, Dota was born. Defence of the Ancients (Dota) pitted two teams against one another; each team started in opposite corners of the map and are told to defend their base while also told to attack the other base. The map that the teams play on have three lanes that are defended by both teams, players must battle through these lanes and defeat the defending structures/enemies to reach the enemy base and destroy it.
Since Dota, many more MOBAs have spawned, including the world’s number-one game League of Legends, which holds a massive 23% share of all games played. As popularity of eSports amongst gamers increased, so too did the popularity amongst developers and corporations; businessmen Sundance DiGiovanni and Mike Sepso saw the increasing popularity of eSports and founded Major League Gaming (MLG) in 2002, which broadcasted the first televised eSporting competition in the US in 2006. To this day, MLG still stands as one of the world’s largest eSports organisations and tournament hosts.
Tournaments in eSports are usually hosted by large organisations, with the total prize money amounting to millions of pounds a year and often funded by game developers and third-party sponsorships. eSporting tournament ‘The International’ hit records for the highest total prize pool for an eSport with $18 million (£11.6 million) for their Dota 2 tournament earlier this year, with the overall winning team taking home $6,616,014.
So if there’s always been eSports, how do we know it’s changing? Easy, Rocket League.