eSpotlight on eSports

By Shaan Khan


Recently, Intel announced that they are set to present the Intel World Open in Tokyo next summer––days before the Summer Olympics. The tournament is an eSports tournament which would include the games Street Fighter V and Rocket League. Each game will have a $250,000 prize for the winner. Even though the tournament is not officially taking place in the Olympics, the Olympics will recognize it and it is the closest that esports has ever been to being included in the competition.   

   Even though esports seems to be a new concept to many people, it has actually existed for a very long time. The first tournament took place Oct. 19, 1972 at Stanford University. The game chosen was Spacewar, and students were invited to compete for the prize of a one year subscription to Rolling Stone Magazine. The next big tournament was in 1980 when Atari held the Space Invaders Championship. Over 10,000 people participated and established videogames as a public product instead of a niche market. Another significant event in 1980 was the creation of the organization Twin Galaxies.  Twin Galaxies collected and recorded all of the world records that players were achieving in video games and partnered the Guinness Book of World Records to honor the world record holders. 

   In the 1990s’ video games reached a new level of popularity because of the internet. The internet made it possible for video games to be played long-distance. In 1997, The Red Annihilation, which is considered to be the first real esports tournament, took place. Because of the internet, 2000 players competed against each other online until they narrowed it down to 16 players. They were then flown to GA where they competed at the Electronic Exposition at the World Congress Center. The event was televised, and people spectated in person and online. The grand prize was a Ferrari 328 GTS. In 2011, competitive gaming was brought to everyone when Twitch was launched. Anyone who had an interest in any game could watch, and esports’ popularity skyrocketed. Tournaments with games such as League of Legends started to get prize pools of millions of dollars, and because of Youtube and Twitch, interest in those games was also rapidly increasing. This led to Intel now having an esports tournament days before the Olympics, and for the first time ever, the first Olympic esports tournament will take place.