The Rise of Esports: Evolution and Popularity of Competitive Gaming

the international 2022 dota 2 international competition held in Singarpore
One of the Biggest eSports event, The International 2022 held in Singapore.

Historical Perspective and Rapid Growth

The digital era has heralded a revolution across various sectors, one of the most striking being the realm of competitive gaming or Esports. For years, the gaming industry was limited to arcades and personal consoles, with mainstream acceptance eluding it. Today, Esports has emerged as a multi-billion dollar industry, its growth trajectory outpacing traditional sports. However, this rapid rise often leaves onlookers and newcomers bewildered, unsure of where to start in understanding or even participating in this booming field. This article serves as a comprehensive guide for these individuals, tracing the evolution of Esports from a niche pastime to a global phenomenon, and unpacking its current popularity and potential future trajectories.

If you think esports just started a few years back, well you’re wrong. Esports started way back in 1950’s where the first ever game was played on a computer. Computer scientist Alexander Shafto Douglas was working on his doctoral thesis on the interaction between humans and computers in Cambridge and came up with the idea of implementing the game “XOX” – better known to us as “Tic-Tac-Toe” or “Three Wins” – as a computer game. 

1988 intergalactic space wars olympic esports

It is not until the 90s’ when esports gain real popularity around the world,  Nintendo and Blockbuster organized gaming competitions, highlighting the rise of competitive gaming. LAN parties and small network sessions emerged, leading to the formation of early clans and larger tournaments. eSports leagues like the Electronic Sports League and ClanBase were also established. In 1999, Germany’s “Gamers’ Gathering” happened and showcased the popularity of eSports. South Korea also professionalized eSports with the Korean e-Sports Association. Counter-Strike, which is still the most famous esports up until today was released in 1999, it became a major multiplayer hit and remains one of the most successful games in eSports history.

The real turning point was In the early 2000s, South Korea hosted the first World Cyber Games (WCG) in Seoul, showcasing the growing popularity of eSports. France joined the scene in 2003 with the Electronic Sports World Cup (ESWC) held in Poitiers, and console games like Halo 2 started gaining recognition. The CPL World Tour in 2005 became a groundbreaking event, offering a staggering one million dollars in prize money for the game Painkiller. However, the Championship Gaming Series (CGS) in 2007 took the spotlight as the most expensive eSports tournament ever, with over one million dollars in prize money and a remarkable five million dollars in player salaries.


High-speed Internet became the gateway to global esports. Tournaments started to expand, as now it became possible to determine whether your the best in your club, or area, but it helps us to determine who’s the best in the world.  It also became possible to compete with players from other countries — players who were sometimes separated by thousands of kilometers could play in the same tournaments. All this led to a healthy competition — slots at competitions began to be awarded not to those who lived closer or could come to a club, but to those who played better. The growth of competition naturally led to more spectacular tournament matches, because when you play online, it is not enough to be the strongest player in your city or country — you have to compete with the whole world. It was at about this point when professional players began to get their first sponsors, and the top teams began to acquire fans and gradually began to turn into brands. 

High-speed Internet allowed teams to assemble the first international rosters with players from different countries. Such rosters were popular in Dota-Allstars, StarCraft: Brood War, Warcraft III, and other disciplines. Later the practice was adopted in CS:GO and Dota 2.

the Rise of esports: League of Legends international competition held in south korea

With the transition of the esports scene to online, global tournament operators emerged, responsible for hosting the competitions. ESL, founded in 2000 in Germany, is one of these companies. Now it is one of the most influential organizations in the industry. Its platform covers dozens of countries and game disciplines, with competitions taking place every day.

While Traditional Esports continue to dominate digital gaming, Mobile esports is taking its place in the market. Well, it’s not surprising,  during the pandemic, most people were restricted to go out, and this makes the turning point for mobile gaming. Not being able to go to any Computer shop to play games, most people resort and enjoy playing mobile games. The majority of people in developed and developing markets own smartphones, and since mobile games typically have low specifications, mobile esports are able to thrive, games like Mobile Legend: Bang Bang, PUBG Mobile, Clash of Clans, LOL: Wildrift etc. In fact, big gaming companies made a mobile version of their games just to follow the mobile gaming trent as they understand that this will be one of the biggest thing in the future.  Around the world, it has taken millions of esports fans and made billions of dollars in revenue. 

Esports Betting

Esports change the way of betting and opened up a whole new world of opportunities for bettors. Although it’s still in its early stages, esports betting already making waves in the gambling industry. It’s not only drawing in a new generation of gamblers but also transforming the way we bet. Unlike traditional sports betting, which relies on luck, esports betting rewards knowledge of the game and its players, making it a more skillful form of gambling. This unique aspect is attracting a growing number of people to the world of betting. With its early success, esports betting seems poised to remain a prominent fixture in the industry. To start, of course, you need to find a reputable and trusted online betting platform like 12BET. Create an account, deposit money and start betting on your favorite teams. 

The Future of Esports

This industry turns casual gamers into serious star who earned millions of dollars a year and bag massive brands endorsement. Esports has already come a long way in recent years and data shows that despite some challenges, the space is showing promising projections for growth. With the rising popularity of video games and platforms such as Twitch promoting players into stars, it’s clear to see the momentum that esports is building. As the esports industry continues to mature, there is likely to be more emphasis placed on creating a more diverse and inclusive environment. This could include initiatives to encourage more women and underrepresented groups to participate in esports, as well as efforts to address issues like harassment and toxicity in the gaming community. In addition, we may see more opportunities for players to compete in non-traditional esports titles, such as puzzle games or simulation games, which could help expand the industry and make it more accessible to a wider range of players.


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