The One that Started it All
Many consider the ‘Red Annihilation’ tournament for Quake, held back in 1997, to be the first e-sports event. But it was a year later when the game which would really sow the seeds for the growth of e-sports entered the market; the game was StarCraft: Brood War, a real-time strategy game created by Blizzard.
With its explosive popularity, Brood War’s success led to the formation of dedicated game channels in South Korea in the shape of Ongamenet and MBCGame. Each conducted their own tournaments and broadcasted them, drawing major sponsors such as Samsung into the world of e-sports. In 2000, the first World Cyber Games were held, and StarCraft: Brood War was the main attraction. Aiming to be the Olympics for video games, the competition platform is still active to this day and has handed out over US$4 million in prize money across its tenure.
StarCraft: Brood War ended its run as a competitive e-sports title in October 2012, replaced by its successor StarCraft II. Over the decade it was played, Brood War served as an example of e-sport’s financial and cultural viability. It garnered fans, drew sponsors, was televised live on TV and made professional gamers into household names.