In the late 1970s, arcades emerged and became popular in many countries. Of the records that people, enthusiastic, were achieving in these machines, there are records of a Space Invaders tournament sponsored by Atari, in 1980. In 1990, Nintendo organized a tournament where ninety competitors of all ages participated in duels of different games. Three years later, Doom appeared, with the possibility of multiplayer via modem. The one-on-one duels continued and many servers expanded with Doom II and Quake. Such would be the background of a phenomenon that is increasingly expanding worldwide: e-Sports.

Also called interactive games or electronic sports, e-Sports consist of competitions between teams or professional video game players. The players -or gamers, as they are known-, from their computers play against each other in the same game; online (connected to the Internet) or LAN (connected in a network).

The competitive nature and addiction to video games were strong, but as they began to develop in groups, they grew at a dizzying rate. To the point that they are getting closer and closer to being considered a sport.

And it is true that e-Sports certainly meet the requirements to be one. Like athletes, cyber-athletes train long hours. In addition to individual preparation of skills (aiming, movement, strategy, psychology, timing, etc.), they must work on team strategies, adaptation to unexpected situations, exchange of items and position coverage. They review videos of their rivals to look for mistakes or new ideas.

Specialists argue that the development of memory and the ability to speed up psychomotor functions that e-Sports provide are valid reasons to call them sports. And they have the advantage of not discriminating on physical grounds.

Of course, there are detractors. Some argue that if you don’t sweat, you can’t contemplate it as a sport. Then, where would be, for example, chess.

Sport or not, it is a widely followed practice with prestigious tournaments, including World Cyber Games, Electronics Sport World Cup, Quakecon, Major League Gaming, Dream hack, Zotac and, at the top of them, the League of Legends tournament and The international of Dota 2. The latter, in 2014, took place in the basketball stadium in Seattle, USA, which exceeded eleven thousand spectators. The winning team received more than five million dollars. In 2014 itself, the ESPN sports network televised the League of Legends final.

League of Legends. e-Sports
PHOTO: Getty Images

One of the pioneering countries most involved in e-Sports is South Korea. Last year, the World Championship was held in Seoul, its capital city. It was attended by more than forty thousand people. They even have a TV channel dedicated to e-sports and a Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA). Major sponsors such as Samsung, Telecom and Korea Telecom support different teams and provide them with housing, coaches and equipment.

Robert Morris University in Chicago, offered scholarships for electronic gamers within its sports category. It is the first to award a sports scholarship of this type.

Cuba, although years away in terms of development, technology, etc., has addicts, especially for Dota and StarCraft, one of the most popular online games internationally. In 2007 the Agrupación de Deportes Electrónicos en Cuba (ADEC) was founded, which organizes the Habanera StarCraft League (HSL) and the Cuban WarCraft League. And there are other tournaments or gamers’ meetings, such as the Video Game Festival organized by the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science of the University of Havana. During the three days of the event there are conferences, presentations of gaming platforms, file sharing. And it competes in the games Dota, StarCraft, Halo, Tetris, Killer Instinct, Guilty Gear and Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm 3.

The country even intends to insert itself into the global video game industry. There are already some such as Beisbolito, Gesta Final, Comando Pintura, Boombox and A Jugar, which are developed entirely here and which in the near future could enter the international market.

If you are one of those who spend hours in the virtual space, if you play alone sometimes, or if we have simply aroused your curiosity, we anticipate that in the next editions of Play-Off you will find much more about the exciting world of e-Sports.

Most popular e-Sports by category

  • MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena): Dota 2, League of Legends, Smite, Bloodline Champions

  • SHOOTERS: Counter-Strike, Battlefield, Call of Duty, Quake, Unreal Tournament, Halo, Team Fortress 2, Shootmania Storm, Gears of War 3

  • SPORTS: FIFA Football, Pro Evolution Soccer

  • FIGHTING: Marvel vs Capcom, The King of Fighters, Tekken, Dead or Alive, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat

  • STRATEGY: StarCXraft, Warcraft, Civilization, Company of Heroes, Pokemon

  • RACING: Need for Speed, Forza Horizon, Mario Kart, Track Mania

  • MUSICAL: Just Dance 2014, Osu!