While esports tournaments and leagues might seem like they’ve always been here, it’s important to remember that this sector is actually a relatively new one. Video games have been entertaining us for decades, while the gaming community has always found ways to play together. However, globe-spanning competitive gaming is a fairly new phenomenon. Despite its infancy, the esports industry is a surprisingly flexible one, with many having to adapt to changing audience appetites, new technology, and constant schedule changes.
Early Tournaments and the Rise of Online Multiplayer Games
An esports tournament schedule from today would look a lot different than one from only a few years ago. Compare a modern-day competition to an event from several decades ago, and you’d struggle to find more than a few similarities.
Many people point to 1972 as the year that esports burst into being. The venue was Stamford University, and the game in question was Spacewar! This space combat game was already a decade old by then, but it did come with multiplayer functionality. While video game technology came on leaps and bounds over the next 20 years, there was little scope for an evolution of esports.
Esports Organizations Start to Take Scheduling Seriously
By the early 2000s, the thirst for esports tournaments was undeniable. Major League Gaming (MLG) was one of the first organizations to promote fully-fledged tournaments, assembling teams that played across a wide variety of genres. Even during these early days of modern-day esports, MLG was thinking long-term. Team rivalries were actively encouraged, with audiences nudged to pick a side.
For the next 10 years or so, the esports sector continued to thrive. However, traditional broadcasters proved resistant to giving competitive gaming too much coverage. Thankfully, the arrival of streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube proved to be just what esports needed.
By 2022, there were more than 7.6 million streaming channels available on Twitch. At any given time, around 2.5 million concurrent viewers were using the platform, while more than 92,000 streamers were broadcasting at the same time. For esports organizers, the appeal of services like Twitch is obvious.
These accessible platforms are user-friendly, making it simple to stream tournaments from anywhere in the world. Even established organizations that could comfortably finance their own broadcasts are using, including. the Electronic Sports League and DreamHack.
Esports in the Time of Lockdowns
During 2020, lockdowns became the way of life for many of us. Video conferencing and remote teams became the standard for many industries, while others were forced to shut down entirely, with no guarantee they’d actually fire up the engines again. While many entertainment sectors struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic, the esports industry survived relatively unscathed.
Admittedly, many events were canceled in 2020. However, many others simply ditched plans for offline tournaments and returned to online formats instead. The 11th season of the ESL Pro League split participants into multiple regions to avoid international travel, taking the entire season online. Meanwhile, the Mid-Season Invitational was dropped from the schedules entirely. However, a one-off fundraising event called the 2020 Mid-Season Streamathon brought together teams from across the world virtually.
For existing audiences, esports events were an obvious distraction during a difficult time. For the uninitiated, the world of competitive gaming proved to be a welcome discovery. Many of these first-time viewers seem to have stuck around. In 2020, around 435 million people were watching worldwide. By 2022, global viewership had increased to 532 million.
Recent Revamps to Esports Schedules
Despite the constant obstacles that esports organizers are forced to navigate around, competitive gaming never struggles to find an audience. Traditional broadcasters might have been less than enthusiastic about giving esports too much coverage in the past, but this doesn’t mean that content isn’t getting out there. However, with an increasing number of leagues and growing interest in foreign competitions, some organizers are starting to realize that they might need to reconsider the way they take charge of scheduling.
At the end of 2022, Riot Games put out a statement outlining its plans to overcome common scheduling challenges many fans were encountering. With more live games available to watch than ever before, many fans were finding themselves forced to make difficult decisions. Time zone differences also present a real problem, with many regional events overlapping with fixtures from another league.
To resolve these issues and more, Riot Games declared its intentions to create a scheduling system that would allow for accessible viewing across every region. What’s more, there’s been a shift away from weekend-only fixtures, with more leagues being encouraged to make use of the working week itself.
Looking to see what changes have been made to your favorite regional league? Check out the 1337pro LPL schedule so you can plan your viewing. Alternatively, get the latest tournament results and news so you’re always in the loop.