Popularization of Competitive Gaming
The world of gaming is slowly but surely opening up to a more mainstream audience. When I started competitively gaming it was in CAL (Cyberathlete Amateur League) back in the early 2000s the league turned into a tightly knit community of gamers and a competitive outlet for gamers who wanted to do more than just play their respective games. CAL was operated by the CPL (Cyberathlete Professional League) which was the forefather to the present day competitive scene. CPL wasn’t able to keep up with the ton of other leagues that started to pop up so they closed their doors in 2009 but not before really starting the e-Sport Revolution.
To make a good comparison, let’s look back to the days of CPL and the prize pool of their Summer 2004 Tournament. CPL hosted the CPL Summer 2004 Tournament in Dallas, TX. There were 4 games represented: Counter-strike, Painkiller, Unreal Tournament 2004, Call of Duty and Halo. The prize pool for the tournament was $250,000. Back then there wasn’t really online streaming so there was no way for gamers not physically at the event to watch. Now let’s fast forward to Dreamhack Winter 2013 that took place November 28th to December 1st of 2013. First let’s look at the games represented:
Starcraft 2, DOTA 2, CS:GO, LoL, HoN, BF4, Quake Live, and Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition. The CS:GO Prize pool alone was $250,000. It is interesting to note that the CS:GO prize pool was so large because of the money gained from sales off of the STEAM Community Marketplace. CS:GO has boxes that can drop in-game and to open them you have to buy keys. A percentage of all proceeds went to the prize pool for Dreamhack 2013. (Also see The International DOTA 2 Championships whose pool is $10,630,475 all of which are from sales of the “compendium” within DOTA 2).
So not only is the incentive to play e-Sports gone up, but the viewership and overall interest in e-Sports has risen. Check out this infographic from Dreamhack 2014:
It is very exciting to see e-Sports becoming more and more popular. In South Korea, Starcraft 2 tournaments are broadcast on live TV and their top players are hailed much like Pop Stars and Pro Athletes in the USA. We are slowly building toward something really large happening in e-Sports and I am excited to see what it will be.