The earliest known video game competition took place in 1972 at Stanford University for the game Spacewar. The Space Invaders Championship held by Atari in 1980 was the earliest large scale video game competition. The 1988 game Netrek was in 1993 credited by Wired Magazine as "the first online sports game" and the fighting game Street Fighter II in 1991 popularized the concept of direct, tournament-level competition between two players. Large esports tournaments in the 1990s include the 1990 Nintendo World Championships and games from the 1994 championships included NBA Jam and Virtual Racing. In the 1990s, many tournaments were established with games like Counter-Strike series, Quake and Warcraft.
In the 2000s, real-time strategy games became overwhelmingly popular, with the two most popular, League of Legends and Dota 2. The International Esports Federation was founded in 2008 in South Korea and a year later, the IeSF was able to host its own international tournaments, starting with the IeSF challenge. During the 2010s, esports grew tremendously, incurring a large increase in both viewership and prize money. Since 2013, some universities and colleges in the United States have recognized esports players as varsity level athletes and offer athletic scholarships, and some games have professional leagues. In 2015, the first Esports Arena was launched in Santa Ana, California, as the US' first dedicated esports facility.