How many fans would you guess watch professional video games competition on television or streaming live online? Before you answer that question, gamers rejoice, because it seems that millions of followers of the expanding digital gaming universe are starting to witness the age of eSports on home screens, monitors and theaters worldwide. But getting the sport to that point was and is not a simple task. In fact, it’s been a roller coaster ride of ups, downs, high expectations and then suddenly experiencing falling in a virtual death-defying doomsday drop.
Nonetheless, because dreams do sometimes have a weird and wild way of coming true, here in a nutshell is Part One = a description of the main event that took one man’s dream, turned it into reality and then helped put it into orbit.
The idea of elevating eSports tournament competition into the same category as other major sporting events actually got its big launch pad blastoff in New York back in November, 2005. By that time, entrepreneur Angel Munoz’s Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL), founded in 1997, had become recognized as the pioneer of computer and video game console big-prize competitive meets. But Mr. Munoz was a dreamer, and saw the possibilities of allowing “Cyberathletes” as he called them, to compete on a global level, and in doing so, spread good will through fierce but friendly eSport competition.
As CPL’s popularity rose and attendance and venues grew in size through the years, Munoz was finally ready to move on from going city to city to stage tournaments. It was in March 2005 when Munoz’s CPL picked up both Intel and Nvidia as its major sponsors, and planned its biggest event: “The CPL World Tour.”
With a total Grand Prize of $1 Million, the tour had ten international stops that included old and a great many new fans in Turkey, Spain, Brazil, Sweden, Germany, China, Singapore, England, Italy and Chile. Each stop awarded $50,000 in prizes. However, it was the big finale in New York and the $500,000 winner’s pot that attracted the most attention.
Munoz was now producing what would prove to be an earth-shaking first, a major historical event of video gaming competition, not only streamed live online, but a few days after the event, broadcast on the mega-popular MTV Overdrive.
Even though originally broadcast as a 30-minute special showing only highlights of the event, that show became historically significant, being the first time eSports was seen worldwide on TV.
Staged at the fabled Nokia Theatre in Times Square in New York City to a packed crowd, and with millions watching the entire breath-taking competition streaming online, what took place was so competitive, so intense that the final result thrust e-Sports into even the most casual general public consciousness.
With heavy news coverage, and a first-place cash award of $150,000 plus $350,000 more up for grabs, the eSports gaming star athlete of the moment was the great American champion, competitive legendary star, Johnathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel. At last, Mr. Munoz and eSport had made it into living rooms across North America and into global mainstream news! If this sounds like a dream come true, it was. But the reality of a nightmare also was about to rear its ugly head.
Watch for ‘E-SPORTS IS HERE’ – Part 2