Competitive Online Gaming Is Now Mainstream, But We Can Argue It Always Has Been

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Chances are, at some point over the last few years, you’ve heard of the eSports industry. Maybe you’ve even participated in a tournament on Twitch or visited a venue to watch an event take place. For instance, in 2019, gamers and fans alike gathered at the Royal Opera House in Convent Garden, London, to watch the Call of Duty European Regional Championship. 

It has been hard to ignore the explosive growth of eSports in 2021. By the end of the year, analysts project that there will be 26 million monthly eSports viewers, up over 10% from 2020. Much of this growth comes from an increasing amount of media coverage and celebrity advocacy. For instance, Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal have both invested in eSports.

However, contrary to popular belief, eSports are not the be-all and end-all of the online competitive gaming landscape. Sure, the commercialisation of eSports has helped this gaming niche hit the stratosphere, but before eSports, there were chess competitions and slot tournaments. And like eSports, to this day, fans can watch these tournaments on different streaming platforms.

Online Chess Tournaments

You could say chess was the first form of competitive online gaming, as online chess has existed in various forms (PLATO, play-by-email, etc.) Since the Internet emerged in the 1970s. By the early 1990s, there were websites designed for online chess. The first was the Internet Chess Club in 1992.

Today, there are massive online chess tournaments around the world. Most recently, there was the 2021 World Chess Championship, which took place in Dubai. The championship ended when reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen beat Ian Nepomniachtchi. According to reports, each round of this year’s World Chess Championship saw more than 300,000 peak viewers. Further, roughly 401,000 peak viewers watched the second day of the tournament.

Online Slot Tournaments

Online slot tournaments have been one of the biggest attractions of online casinos since this industry went digital in the 1990s. Slots have always been a favourite in the gambling community, but they can be isolated. That’s why casinos started offering live games, besides slot tournaments.

These tournaments are real-time competitions between different online players and are accessible on online casino platforms worldwide. Like eSports, there are different types of slot tournaments to participate in. Some are more mainstream, while others are rooted in specific niches. For instance, in December, the UK-based bingo website Buzz Bingo offered Christmas-themed slot tournaments in addition to its traditional games like jackpot slots and Slingo. 

The eSports industry has revolutionised the competitive online gaming landscape. Over the last year, we’ve seen a massive uptick in investments from private equity firms and venture capitalists in eSports. All of this is great, but it’s important to remember that eSports did not start the trend of competitive online gaming tournaments. These have been around for years, as demonstrated by online chess and slot tournaments.

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