The Rise of Esports: A Look Into Professional Online Gaming

Until recently, esports, or professionals were mostly seen as a niche interest. But the growth of esports has given rise to a new era for video games, with tournaments drawing thousands in-person and millions more online viewers. As a result, many businesses, including those that are not traditionally connected to video gaming, have started taking note, with some investing in esports teams and others creating their own.

While esports have always existed in some form or another, the industry took a major turn with the advent of PC gaming and the Internet. The Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) and other tournaments held with PC gaming games in the 1990s gave rise to a nascent esports industry, as companies like id Software ushered in multiplayer modes for its titles, such as Doom’s deathmatch mode. Source:

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Over time, CPL and other esports tournaments grew in popularity, and by the 2000s, pro gamers were making a living by playing video games. Teams of dedicated esports players formed, and sponsorship deals and salaries soon followed. Today, esports competitors compete in a variety of video game competitions with prize money that can be millions of dollars.

The largest esports events draw crowds that rival those of traditional sports games. A recent League of Legends championship sold out Los Angeles’ Staples Center in an hour and pulled 27 million online viewers. And while esports may not yet have the mass appeal of basketball or hockey, it is growing in popularity with young digital natives. Research shows that, among American male millennials, esports is twice as popular as football and baseball combined.