Esports is a form of competitive gaming using a computer, mobile device or game console.
The roots of the sport can be tracked back to 1972 when the Stanford University organised the first video game tournament in history called the “Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics”. The game consoles, home computers and, in particular, faster Internet connections that became more commonplace in households in the 1990s enabled competitive online gaming. However, the terms ‘e-sports’ or ‘esports’ didn’t enter the vernacular until the 2000s when competitive gaming as a phenomenon really took off and turned professional.
The most popular games in competitive gaming are mainly either shoot ‘em ups or team-based fantasy battles.
The most popular FPS (First Person Shooter) games include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, Call of Duty and Rainbow Six: Siege. The most popular MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games played on a computer are League of Legends and Dota 2. Arena Of Valor, available on mobile devices, has also millions of players.
Of the Finnish teams, among the best known are ENCE, HAVU Gaming, SuperJymy and Helsinki REDS, founded by HIFK. Recently, ENCE has made a rapid climb to the global top through its success in Counter-Strike and StrarCraft.
The brightest individual stars include ENCE’s StarCraft expert Joona “Serral” Sotala as well as, for instance, Joni Törmälä and Olli Pahkala who compete in the F1 Esports series.
Games are mainly watched online, where the most popular game streaming site Twitch boasts more than 15 million daily viewers and up to a hundred million monthly viewers.
Even though games are to a large degree played online, the biggest tournaments are still played offline, i.e. at events. The biggest competitive gaming event in Finland is Assembly. Its Summer and Winter events at Messukeskus Helsinki bring together thousands of gaming and computer enthusiasts. Bought by Telia last summer, Assembly was held for the first time in 1992.