On October 19th, 1972 Stanford University student Bruce Baumgart won a five man free for all Spacewar tournament and in doing so, scooped the top prize of a free annual subscription to Rolling Stone.
Officially that was the first organized eSports tournament on record. Since then, there have been tens of thousands of other tournaments held all around the world.
Currently there are a number of incredibly popular eSports tournaments that bring in huge crowds of viewers, create their own betting markets and boost the profile of the industry.
In this article though, we’re not interested in the eSports tournaments that are already mainstream. Instead, we’ve decided to focus on some of the lesser-known tournaments that you should be tuning in to, read on to find out what they are…
Super Smash Con
Every year Nintendo fans from all around the world descend upon Super Smash Con, which this year will be held in Chantilly, Virginia from August 10-13. As you would expect from the name, it is the place to celebrate everything Nintendo and Super Smash Bros.
At the convention, fans can play on every console that Super Smash Bros characters have appeared, and there are tournaments ranging from the Wii to the N64. The Mario Brothers are understandably the main attraction, but there are also eagerly contested tournaments amongst a wide range of other Super Smash Bros titles.
The tournaments here seem to be more hotly contested than those at The Big House – another Super Smash Bros convention – and have a greater range of variety with numerous side tourneys for novices and beginners to get involved in.
(The Smash 64 Combo Contest from last year’s tournament.)
The fighting game community is one of the most underrepresented when it comes to top-level eSports tournaments, which is something Combo Breaker is trying to rectify. Every year fans of Street Fighter, Bloody Roar and dozens of other fighting games head to Illinois to enjoy Combo Breaker.
Held on Memorial Day ever since its debut in 2015, Combo Breaker has been heralded as a great place to go and pay homage to classic fighting games and a brilliant place to debut new titles.
This year some of the most popular eSports competitions will be played on Killer Instinct, Guilty Gear Strive and Street Fighter Champion Edition.
If you think that the fighting game community is underrepresented at the top level of eSports try being a fan of the niche anime fighting genre. Popularised in the last 20-30 years, anime fighting games have taken off, not just in Asia but all across the world.
Community Effort Orland (CEO) first organised a convention in 2010 that attracted 350 gamers and spectators. The following year, that number grew to over a thousand, and visitor numbers have been steadily growing.
Fans come from far and wide to watch a range of hotly contested tournaments on the top anime fighting games on the market. This year the tournament will be held in Orlando over the last weekend of September and will feature 15 anime fighting games including DragonballFigther Z, P4A Arena Ultimax and Windjammers 2 to name but a few.
Hearthstone Grandmasters World Championship
First released in 2014, Hearthstone is a free to play online digital collectible card game (try saying all of that in one breath). It is a game based on the lore of World of Warcraft and, as you might expect, is insanely popular.
Now you might not expect a digital collectible card game to be very popular in eSports but you would be wrong. The Hearthstone Grandmasters World Championship is held every year in December and has a prize pool of $500,000!
Free Fire World Series
You may have noticed as you have read that with each new entry we are venturing more and more into the mainstream. Our last mention goes to the most popular of the niche or the most obscure of the popular depending on how you want to look at it.
Published in 2017 by Garena, Free Fire was one of the first titles to truly take advantage of the Battle Royale gaming mode. Thanks to that it gained a huge following of fans around the globe and is enjoyed annually at World Series events.
Last year thousands of players battled it out to be crowned champion and to grab a slice of the enormous $2 million prize pot.