Esports, an abbreviation for electronic sports, are organized competitions based on multi-player video games. The first recorded instance of esports was in 1972 at Stanford University where students competed against one another in a videogame called Spacewar (1962).
During the early 1990s, there was rising competition amongst combat video games, such as Mortal Kombat (1992), Street Fighter (1992), and Dead or Alive (1996). The mid to late 1990s saw the introduction of computer-based esports with StarCraft (1998), Quake (1996), and Doom (1993) gaining popularity. Massive tournaments and competitions were organized around these popular titles with large prizes for the winners.
Today, Super Smash Bros. (1999), League of Legends (2009), Valorant (2020), and Guilty Gear Strive (2021) hold the largest player base in the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) Esports Club. During last semester, UTM’s Valorant team ranked first in their division and will receive a trophy to mark their accomplishment in the near future.
Some people who see sporting as strictly a physical activity might take issue with the use of the word “sports” to define competitive video gaming.
“[Sports] can be hard to define,” says UTM Esports Club president Peter Ghobrial, “because a lot of people’s perceptions on it may vary.”
Ghobrial is a fourth-year computer science major that was once an events coordinator for the club. He sets out the general plan and outline for the club, its future and vision for what it hopes to accomplish next.
Ghobrial thinks Esports are invaluable to many people, especially those who seek healthy competition and community but may have physical barriers that make athletic sports difficult. “Anyone who likes video games [and] likes playing them can come out,” he says. “That’s really the thing that speaks to me.”
Due to Covid-19 restrictions last year, the UTM Esports Club had to redirect its in-person events. The club still continued to host collegiate games and participate in a multitude of tournaments but in an online format. They also hosted drop-in game nights and interactive live streams.
With the return to campus, the club now hosts many weekly in-person games that anybody can participate in, while also coordinating rosters of players to compete in varsity collegiate esports tournaments.
If you have the slightest interest in video games, whether you play them casually, competitively, or want to try them out, consider joining the UTM Esports club. The club’s executive team strives to create an inclusive community where students can make new friends and have fun.