Today, video game competitions with cash and other prizes and professional e-Sports players are an everyday occurrence that no one can ignore. However, in the final years of the last century, such things were still unknown to the vast majority of the population.
The majority of games that we now consider e-Sports did not exist either and it was the first-person shooter game Quake that got the ball rolling on competitive gaming as such. In 1997, Atlanta was the venue of the first-ever e-Sports tournament which led to the development of an entire industry that we now know and love.
Few would have thought that a single event like Red Annihilation would lead to the emerging industry that e-Sports are today. However, this was just the first step on a very long road, so we decided to take a look at how the tournament came to be, what impact it had and how e-Sports grew following it. You can also check out some other milestone events of the e-Sports industry on this e-Sports infographic and keep reading to find out more.
The Biggest e-Sports Event of the Time
Red Annihilation started out as Kings of Capture. The event was meant to be a Quake tournament made in cooperation between Michael Shearon and Intergraph. Intergraph’s executive director Rob Esterling further developed the event in 1996 and early 1997.
Around the same time, Microsoft was also organizing early e-Sports events, but Intergraph used the cancellation of one such event to throw the Red Annihilation in 1997. The first phase of the tournament was played online, with over 2.000 people signing up. The final 16 players were flown out to Atlanta, where they took part in the final matches.
When the dust was settled, it was Dennis “Thresh” Fong who won the final match and a 1987 Ferrari 328 GTS, an unprecedented prize in the world of gaming. This victory was an early glimpse into the kind of prizes that would await e-Sports tournament winners in the future, some of which now win millions of dollars in similar contests.
The Impact of Red Annihilation
Gaming contests were organized as far back as 1972, but the one thing that was missing to give them more popularity was big prizes. This all changed with Red Annihilation as the Ferrari winner could definitely boast that he took home a prize worth playing for.
The final few years of the 20th century were marked by a handful of other similar e-Sports events, but it was the early 21st century that really put e-Sports on the map. One after another, tournaments in games like Counter Strike and Warcraft III started to mount, with prizes getting bigger and bigger each year.
In the year 2017, the total prize pool of over $110.000.000 was awarded to thousands of teams and players across the globe, spanning a range of different games. What’s even more, players streaming their gaming sessions on online platforms like Twitch started making just as much, if not more, than their professional gamer counterparts. All of this stemmed from events like Red Annihilation and it now seems that there is no stopping the e-Sports train.
Today, the e-Sports market is dominated by American and Asian players, but professional gaming is spreading across the world, with players from Europe, Africa, South America and other parts of the world actively participating in competitive matches and companies in those parts of the world throwing tournaments of their own.
From a single Atlanta based tournament in Quake, the e-Sports market is now quickly approaching the $1 Billion yearly market value, which is the next milestone that the industry is likely to reach in the coming years. Where it can go from there is only a matter of speculation, but considering the rapid development of VR and other technologies that will help the gaming boom, we can safely say that the sky is the limit.