The vast majority of esports events involve PCs, and this dominance will continue in 2020. However, competitive gaming using mobile devices will become increasingly popular, particularly as chip developments continue to make smartphones faster and more powerful. To tap into this market, developers are producing so-called ‘lite’ versions of game apps, which can be played on most devices, regardless of technical specifications.

Listed below are the major milestones in the esports theme, as identified by GlobalData.

1972 – Stanford University held the first competitive gaming event, based on Spacewar.

1980 – Over 10,000 players participated in the Space Invaders Championship, sponsored by Atari.

1982 – Starcade, a gameshow where contestants competed against each other on arcade games, was first broadcast.

1989 – UK computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web.

1990 – The first Nintendo World Championships were held in the US.

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By GlobalData

1997 – The AMD Professional Gamers League and Cyberathlete Professional League were founded.

1998 – StarCraft, which helped to popularise esports in South Korea, was released.

2000 – The Korean e-Sports Association was created to promote and regulate esports in South Korea.

2000 – The Electronic Sports League, later renamed ESL, was founded.

2011 – The website spun off its gaming content as TwitchTV.

2012 – The League of Legends: Season 2 World Championship had a top prize of $1m and attracted 8 million online viewers.

2013 – The US government officially recognised League of Legends players as professional athletes.

2013 – The League of Legends: Season 3 World Championship final was watched by more than 32 million people on Twitch.

2014 – Amazon acquired Twitch for $970m.

2016 – Microsoft acquired Twitch competitor Beam. The service was renamed Mixer in 2017.

2016 – The World Esports Association was formed by ESL and several teams, including Fnatic, FaZe Clan, and Natus Vincere.

2017 – Valve offered a $24.6m prize pool for its Dota 2 competition, The International 2017.

2018 – Activision and Riot Games started franchise leagues around Overwatch and League of Legends respectively.

2018 – Facebook launched Facebook Gaming, or, a streaming service focused on esports.

2019 – Total esports prize money surpassed $200m, according to Esports Earnings.

2019 – The top five esports games collectively were viewed for nearly 1,200 million hours worldwide.

2020 – Esports will generate more than $1bn in annual revenues, according to Newzoo.

2023 – Nearly 650 million people will watch esports worldwide, according to Newzoo.

This is an edited extract from the Esports – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.