Over the past two decades video games have started to become a wildly popular spectator sport. Esports might have started out small, with amateur players renting out tiny LAN centres. But it has grown into fiercely competitive international events that sell out sporting stadiums.
First prize is worth almost $6.5 million
This August, for example, the International DOTA 2 Championships 2015 took place at the 17,000-seat Seattle KeyArena and boasted a prize pool of over $18 million. The first prize alone was worth almost $6.5 million to the winning team. Who said playing video games is a waste of time? These days, you can make a living at it.
Esports has come along way. In the early years of pro gaming, first person shooters like Quake and Unreal Tournament were incredibly popular with gamers, and one player rose up to become the poster boy for professional esports.
In competitive gaming circles, Johnathan ‘Fatal1ty’ Wendel was the guy to beat. Known for his incredible success playing first person shooters, he racked up over $450,000 in prizes playing Counter-Strike, Doom 3, Painkiller and Quake. Wendel won 12 world championship titles during his career and went on to become a successful esports business mogul.
Fatal1ty turned his esports fame into a successful gaming business
This phenomenon is nothing new in mainstream sport. When a pro footballer, tennis player or cricketer becomes successful, they have opportunities to acquire big name sponsors and to endorse products. Wendel was smart about using his fame. His company, Fatal1ty, Inc, now sells branded motherboards, headsets, power supplies and sound cards.
But Fatal1ty was also keen to give something back to the esports community and Wendel backed the Championship Gaming Series to promote those games that made him. While this venture wasn’t ultimately successful, Wendel remains one of the legends of FPS pro gaming.
Of course, games have evolved over the years and gaming tastes have changed. While early esports tournaments revolved around single-player, first-person shooter titles, today’s competitions favour team-based games that require a high degree of strategy.
Today’s most popular esports require teamwork and strategy
Games like DOTA 2 and League of Legends take a lot of mechanical skill, yet as you progress as a player you’ll understand that there’s a lot of strategy involved in making the decisions that lead you and your team to victory. This is the other aspect that has evolved over time in esports.
A lot of the more recent hit successes in competitive gaming are based around teams. Even so, there are still individual gamers that have soared into the limelight. Watch the player profile below to get a glimpse into the life of team EHOME’s rOtk.
Andy ‘Reginald’ Dinh is another standout gamer, a professional League of Legends player and the founder of Team SoloMid (TSM), which fields teams to play a variety of games, including Hearthstone, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Super Smash Bros.
Other rising stars include EHOME’s rOtk, Fnatic’s Kceik Imba and Luo ‘Ferrari_430′ Feichi, who plies his trade as part of the Invictus Gaming team.
Since the rise of strategy and battle arena team games, we’ve seen individual players become idols to a growing fan base. Today’s esports stars are inspiring the gamers and teams of the future, boosting the popularity of pro video gaming. If the International DOTA 2 Championships can fill a 17,000-seater stadium in 2015, maybe they can sell out a 30,000 capacity arena by 2020.