ESPORTS-THE SE­RIES: FIRST-PER­SON SHOOT­ERS

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This piece is a con­tin­u­a­tion of HWM Malaysia’s exclusive eSports — The Se­ries, first ap­pear­ing in the May 2016 is­sue. With the re­lease of and

in the early 90’s, PC gam­ing was set to rise and take the world by storm. The suc­cess of – com­bined with the ris­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties of com­puter net­works and the In­ter­net – fu­eled fer­vent de­mand for mul­ti­player gam­ing. Coin­cid­ing with the re­cent launch of the re­boot of the orig­i­nal (2016), we’ll ex­plore some of the highlights and trends of first-per­son shoot­ers in the eSports scene. With­out a doubt, id Soft­ware’s re­lease of

(1993) marked the pop­u­lar­iza­tion of FPS as a com­pet­i­tive eSports genre. The iconic FPS ti­tle spawned news­groups, chat rooms, and even­tu­ally the first known use of IRC for gam­ing. Tak­ing ad­van­tage of the still rel­a­tively prim­i­tive mo­dem tech­nolo­gies of the day, play­ers con­nected to one an­other via dial-up con­nec­tions and thus, on­line com­pet­i­tive FPS was born. Af­ter the re­lease of

(1994), Texas-based on­line match­mak­ing ser­vice pi­o­neer DWANGO (Dial-up Wide-Area Net­work­ing Game Op­er­a­tion) launched its ser­vices. DWANGO charged users the cost of a lo­cal tele­phone call to con­nect to its dial-up bul­letin board ser­vices, and with dozens of servers scat­tered through­out North Amer­ica soon af­ter, DWANGO be­came the early hub of com­pet­i­tive FPS.

The com­pe­ti­tions weren’t al­ways held re­motely, how­ever, es­pe­cially when smooth, re­li­able game­play was re­ally only avail­able to those with su­pe­rior In­ter­net con­nec­tions, such as ISP em­ploy­ees, univer­sity stu­dents, and en­ter­prise-level busi­nesses. Bring­ing fights face-to-face via LAN and to ac­com­pany the launch of Doom II, Mi­crosoft held its own first LAN tour­na­ment for the ti­tle and its PC play­ers at its Red­mond head­quar­ters, known as the Death­match ‘95. Play­ers from North Amer­ica first com­peted on DWANGO’s 22 servers to de­ter­mine the best death­match player for each server. Then, each server’s cham­pion, plus two Euro­pean cham­pi­ons, was flown to Red­mond to com­pete face-to-face for the cov­eted ti­tle and prizes. The Grand Prize in­cluded VIP sta­tus on DWANGO’s ser­vices for one year, a life­time sup­ply of id ti­tles, and a top-notch PC. This of­fline for­mat, com­bin­ing ath­letes and spec­ta­tors alike, de­fined the of­fline eSports com­pe­ti­tion scene for ages to come.

Fol­low­ing the launch of the orig­i­nal by id Soft­ware in 1996, the com­pany launched QuakeCon. QuakeCon is an an­nual, Tex­as­based con­ven­tion that hosts com­pe­ti­tions

Elec­tronic Sports League (ESL)

for the se­ries ( and later and the con­ven­tion has since be­come the largest LAN event in North Amer­ica. In 1997, the first of­fline tour­na­ment took place. The winner, Chi­ne­seAmer­i­can Den­nis Fong un­der his in-game alias ‘Thresh’, took home the prize of id Soft­ware co-founder and lead de­vel­oper John Car­mack’s very own Ferrari 328 GTS con­vert­ible. In 2012, the last ma­jor tour­na­ment out­side of QuakeCon to host com­pe­ti­tions – In­tel Ex­treme Masters – de­cided to drop the ti­tle af­ter a good two-year run.

Other clas­sic com­pet­i­tive FPS ti­tles that en­tered the eSports arena in­clude

as part of the Ger­many-based Elec­tronic Sports League (ESL), as part of the Texas-based Cy­berath­lete Pro­fes­sional League, the orig­i­nal and games un­der ESL, as well as the more re­cent Team Fortress 2 that is played in sev­eral on­line leagues, most no­tably with ESEA League and CEVO in a 6v6 for­mat. To­day, the most pop­u­lar com­pet­i­tive FPS ti­tle is no doubt the se­ries, which be­gan as a mod bought by Valve in 2000. The most re­cent version of the se­ries,

(2012), saw its largest prize pool in the se­ries to date for U.S.-based MLG Colum­bus 2016, to­tal­ing US$1 mil­lion. Other FPS ti­tles, such as and are also pop­u­lar eSports games but shined pri­mar­ily in their con­sole ver­sions on the PlayStation and Xbox, re­spec­tively.

In Asia, real-time strat­egy (RTS) games are much more preva­lent than FPS, al­though there are still sev­eral FPS ti­tles in the Asian eSports FPS scene that are worth men­tion­ing. The free-to-play based on Un­real En­gine 3, has a siz­able player base in China and has Chi­nese servers run by Ten­cent (par­ent com­pany of Tai­wanese servers run by Garena, and Ja­panese servers run by Gamechu. Its Ger­man de­vel­oper – Ae­ria Games and ESL – jointly and reg­u­larly spon­sor world cham­pi­onships in Tai­wan. In other parts of East Asia, Kore­an­de­vel­oped shoot­ers and

both run pro­fes­sional leagues, with events or­ga­nized by Tai­wan eSports League in Tai­wan, and ESL in Europe. With ma­jor new ti­tles such as

pro­fes­sion­ally show­cased by teams in the ESL, as well as Bl­iz­zard’s

com­ing into the scene with pro­fes­sional team for­ma­tion al­ready tak­ing place, the FPS genre among the eSports com­mu­nity is no doubt here to stay. Keep your eye on the crosshair, and stay tuned for the next chap­ter of our multi-part eSports se­ries, ex­clu­sively on HWM Malaysia.

An Edi­tor-in-Chief for a re­gional mag­a­zine by day, An­thony is a pas­sion­ate and an­a­lyt­i­cal gamer in a spec­trum of gen­res, draw­ing from his ex­pe­ri­ences as an avid col­lec­tor of north of 1,000 PC game ti­tles. His gam­ing re­sume dates back to the early 90’s with the Fam­i­com, Su­per Fam­i­com, and the fam­ily 486 Win­dows 3.1 PC. An­thony can oc­ca­sion­ally be found stream­ing on his Twitch and YouTube Gam­ing chan­nels.

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