An eSports player.

ESports as we know it at the moment is valued globally at 1.38 billion USD. For a young and still growing industry that’s a whopping big number! Let’s take a look at how competitive gaming got to be this big.

What is eSports?

First of all, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. ESports is competitive gaming where highly skilled gamers compete against each other while being watched by spectators. The competition can be in multiplayer form (as teams), or individual. 

How it started

Generally, people acknowledge competitive gaming to have started in the 1970s when home video game consoles became popular. A few years later, in the 1980s, Atari, Inc., an American video game developer and home computer company founded by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, held the first Space Invaders Championship. The tournament attracted more than 10,000 participants and major media attention. 

In the same decade, Walter Day founded Twin Galaxies, a type of social media platform for gamers and gaming culture. Twin Galaxies tracked records and high scores from over 100 arcades. Twin Galaxies soon held its own competitions across the US, some even airing on TV.

In the 1990s, along with the world wide web and internet rise, gamers from any part of the world could now play with, or against, anyone else in the world. So an era is officially born, hand in hand with the internet.

The 21st Century

South Korea played a big role in forming the industry culture to what we know of it today. At the turn of the century, South Korea’s economic spike allowed the government to invest heavily in its gaming industry and infrastructure. “Pro-gaming” became recognized as an official job category in Korea. 

When live streaming services such as Twitch and YouTube arrived to the playground, it became all the much easier for viewers all around the world to watch, enjoy, and support their favorite gamers compete.

Nowadays, there are about 260 million eSports enthusiasts viewers globally. The prediction for 2025 is to grow to 320 million viewers. The International 2021, a Dota 2 (Defense of the Ancients) championship had a total prize pool of 40 million USD. On a daily basis, more than 10 million players in China compete on LoL (League of Legends). 

In 2022, countries with the strongest eSports teams and players are (respectively) South Korea, China, Denmark, USA, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Philippines, Brazil, and Russia. 

In summary, we can see eSports is now a permanent fixture of young people’s lives, as much as “real” sport championships like the World Cup and Olympic Games are to older generations of sports fans. 

It’s fun, it’s social, it’s in—it’s eSports.