ESPORTS-THE SERIES: FIRST-PERSON SHOOTERS
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.