In recent years, the internet has played a big role in the evolution of digital societies throughout the world. The dependence on computer usage and forms of internet communication, together with the nature of human competition and gaming made evident in our history, have acted as catalysts in the rise of a new industry — competitive gaming, or currently better known as E-sports.
All over the world Competitive Gaming or E-sports has steadily become popular and is considered as an incredible digital feat. It is in fact, the new sports genre for the 21st century, yet, many of the avid fans and gamers alike don’t seem to know very much about its past.
The Origin of E-sports
The history of E-sports dates back to the late 90s’ when the Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL) — considered as the pioneer in professional video game tournaments — was founded on June 27, 1997 by gaming entrepreneur Angel Munoz. With competitive gaming on the rise, breeding a new type of gamer, the CPL became the sole platform to these cyberathletes — as Munoz coined them.
The CPL’s history is filled with exciting moments and memorable professional gaming milestones. It all started in October of 1997 when the CPL hosted its very first event called The FRAG. The prizes consisted of merchandise worth US$4,000. A year later the FRAG 2, took place and featured a notable increase in total prize money with US$ 15,000 in cash.
Shaping the E-sports Industry
Attendance and venues of these events gradually grew in size, and with the proliferation of streaming live matches, thousands watched the matches online. Over the years a lot of similar gaming events took place and several E-sports leagues were formed as well. The CPL essentially laid the successful blueprint for rival leagues to emulate and follow. However in April 2000 the Razer CPL Event proved why the CPL can be often imitated, but is yet to be fully replicated, with a Quake 3 tournament and an overall prize pool of US$100,000. Johnathan ‘Fatal1ty’ Wendel took the first place winning US$ 40,000.
The Golden Years of CPL
With the burst of the dot-com bubble, in the later part of 2001, most event organizers were forced to take a step back –- the first E-sports recession, so to say -– but the CPL continued to grow. The title of “CPL Champion” became the most coveted title in the E-sports industry with gamers vying for it in each CPL tournament.
The CPL World Championship 2001 had a total of US$150 000 prize pool, primarily provided by Intel. The event’s main title in team competition was Counter-Strike, a game that was slowly replacing Quake III in competitive FPS. It was also established during that season that there would be two major CPL events each year: The CPL Summer Championship and the CPL Winter Championship, both taking place in Dallas, Texas, USA.
In March 2005, the CPL partnered with Intel and Nvidia as its major sponsors, and held its biggest event to date: The CPL World Tour. The tour kicked off with a bang, offering a total prize of US$1,000,000 and ten international stops. Each international stop had a purse of US$50,000 and the New York final was US$500,000 and was broadcasted live on MTV Overdrive. This was the first time in the industry’s history that an eSports event was broadcasted on television to a global audience. The CPL and its strategic partners organized, held and made the event possible on all of the international stops: Turkey, Spain, Brazil, Sweden, USA, Germany, United Kingdom, China, Singapore, Italy and Chile.
Most of the ambitious players attended as many World Tour stops as they could. The world tour focused on a one-on-one deathmatch game called Painkiller. It became a ground-breaking global tournament series and the memorable finals was later included in Kotaku’s Ten Best Moments in Pro-Gaming History, when Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel came from behind and beat Sander “Vo0″ Kaasjager in four straight maps to take home a record-breaking US$150,000 top prize. Nevertheless, Kaasjager took home the MVP trophy for having the most tournament wins.
The Distinctive CPL Identity
The CPL chooses games title for their tournament based on global popularity among the gaming community, suitability for Professional tournament and broadcasting. The Game discipline that CPL has taken from the early days started with First Person Shooter FPS) Discipline – Quake, CounterStrike, subsequently added Real Time Strategy (RTS) Discipline – Warcraft3 and Starcraft1 and DOTA. Always being at the forefront to listen to the gaming community and recognize the trend in competitive gaming, The CPL made games like Counter Strike and DOTA more popular by organizing the first global tournament with official rules in Counterstrike 1.6 back in 2000, USA-Dallas and DOTA in 2005, China-Chengdu.
The CPL also extended its influence to non-professional gamers and teams by creating the Cyberathlete Amateur League or CAL. It is focused mainly on online gameplay. CAL ran tournaments all year round, with regular eight-week seasons; one or two matches per week, and a single-elimination postseason (playoffs). In 2003, CAL hosted a competition in Hyatt Regency ballroom wherein ten computers were placed side by side for the professional gamers. The game for the said competition was the venerable Counter-Strike. CAL ended its online operations on February 22, 2009, leaving behind a legacy of being one of the largest online gaming leagues in North America at its peak, with 20,000 teams and over 600,000 registered players.
With the support of sponsors, partners and gamers alike, the CPL hosted 60 international tournaments in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. From 1997 up to 2007 the CPL has distributed more than US$3,000.000.00 in cash and $2,000,000.00 in merchandise.
The CPL looks into the future
Seeking a fresh start, the CPL was acquired by Wolong Ventures PTE Ltd. on August 23, 2010 along with its wholly-owned subsidiary, CAL. Founded in April 28, 2010, the new parent company Wolong Ventures is an investment holding entity specializing in the digital entertainment & media industry. Investment to date includes established and reputable global IP and complementary entities. Wolong Ventures excels in creating a global solution network, and is currently operating in Asia and USA with partners in Europe.
With the ever-growing need to meet the insatiable appetite of the gamers in Asia and the rest of the world. WoLong Ventures Pte Ltd plans to take CPL to a whole new level in answer to the demands of this promising market.
The CPL Milestones throughout the years:
Past CPL Champions
- 2006 – Paul “czm” Nelson (Quake III)
- 2005 – Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel (Painkiller)
- 2004 – Sander “Vo0” Kaasjager (Painkiller)
- 2002 – Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel (Unreal Tournament 2003)
- 2001 – Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel (Alien versus Predator 2)
- 2000 – Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel (Quake III)
- 1999 – Mark “womba” Larsen (Quake III)
- 1998 – Dan “Rix” Hammans (Quake III)
- 1997 – Tom “gollum” Dawson (Quake)
- 2007 – Team Pandemic (Counter-Strike Source)
- 2006 – Team fnatic (Counter-Strike)
- 2005 – Team SK-Gaming (Counter-Strike)
- 2004 – Team NoA (Counter-Strike)
- 2003 – Team SK-Gaming (Counter-Stike)
- 2002 – Team SK-Gaming (Counter-Strike)
- 2001 – Team Ninjas in Pyjamas (Counter-Strike)
- 2000 – Team e9 (Counter-Strike)