Image Source: QuakeCon via Facebook
It wasn't until the last few years that eSports have risen so sharply in popularity. Sure, "eSports" is a fairly broad term that means people playing video games against each other for money - this has been going on since the 80's in smoky arcades - but it wasn't until recently that, as a sport, such video game competitions have been consistently viewed by millions of people, virtually transforming into a spectator sport. It wasn't until recently that sponsors decked out their teams with the most high-tech equipment and each player had that sponsor's name plastered as the prefix on their gamer tag. It wasn't until recently that it felt like games were taken seriously as a way to gain profit through means of competition.
But just as basketball started out with a guy throwing a ball into a peach basket, video games had a humble beginning as well. As Tyler F.M. Edwards of adanai.com states in his article chronicling the rise of eSports, the first true eSports tournament took place in 1997 featuring the fast-paced shooter Quake. The tournament had more than 2,000 participants and the grand prize was a Ferrari. Not bad for 1997. But besides the unreleased Quake Champions making a tournament appearance at the upcoming QuakeCon on August 24-27, the game isn't very relevant in the current lineup of eSports titles.
However, there are still a few oldies making their rounds in the arena. First, let's take a look at a fighting game that's been kicking for over 15 years.
Despite two sequels being released, Super Smash Bros. Melee is still very much alive and well in the eSports scene. Just last year Melee saw its biggest attendence at the gigantic fighting game tournament EVO with 4,497 attendants and 2,372 entrants. That equalled a pot size of $23,720 - insane numbers for a game that started at the beginning of the Gamecube! As a matter of fact, Melee was only barely edged out by Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U (a title released in 2014) by 290 entrants and $2,900. Lucky for you, EVO 2017 is set for July 14-16 and full tournament deatils for all of the fighting games featured are provided at shoryuken.com.
Image source: Nintendo Planet via Facebook
Straying away from flying fists and towards gunfire we have an even older eSports icon: Counter-Strike. The game resoponsible for making headshots so cool has been around since 2000 and has four iterations with the most recent entry, Counter-Strike: Source, one of the most popular eSports games around - even being aired on primetime television thanks to TBS. On the eSports betting website http://bets.io/, Counter-Strike sits proudly beside other gaming greats such as the uber popular MOBAs League of Legends and DOTA 2.
But the eSports game you've all been waiting for is none other than StarCraft. The sixth best-selling game of all time and most recognizable RTS in existence was released in 1998 and propelled Korea into the spotlight as their players were considered to be the strongest of any in the world. The original StarCraft garnered international attention that begged for a sequel when eSports started its rise in popularity. It was in 2010 that StarCraft: Wings of Liberty saw the light of day and strategic minds across the gaming globe rejoiced. Major tournaments for the game take place everywhere in the world with some being held in Seoul, Helsinki, Tours, Shanghai and Sao Paulo to name a few. Although the prize pools pale in comparison to the likes of Dota 2 and League of Legends (games that hit $20,000,000 and $5,000,000 prize pools respectively according to this tournament compilation by esportsearnings.com), StarCraft has had a respectable $500,000 prize pool. That's coming a long way from dial up internet back in the 90's.
This all just goes to show that even in something as future-focused as gaming, there are still reasons to pay some respect to the classics. After all, those skills in Tetris might just make you a couple thousand dollars richer.