Notable Events in the Evolution of VR Esports


July 26:  Atari, Inc. is founded by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney. Atari was a catalyst primarily responsible for the development of the video arcade and the modern video gaming industry.

October 19:  The first video game tournament was held at Stanford University featuring Spacewar, a space combat game.


The home computer industry began this year with the release of the Apple II, PET 2001 and TRS-80.


Home computers were made more accessible.

Atari successfully hosts The Space Invaders Tournament with over 10,000 participants.


Atari $50,000 World Championships are a total disaster.


Time magazine called this the “Year of the Computer” and throughout the 80s home computers continued to grow in popularity.

1983 – 1985

The market became saturated with game consoles and there wasn’t enough production of good software. A crash shook the industry and caused a near 97-percent drop of revenue between 1983 and 1985.

Late 1980s – early 90s

Video gaming was kept alive with arcade games in bowling alleys, malls, skating rinks, etc.


The World Wide Web became available to the public on August 6, 1991. Increasing internet connectivity throughout the decade led to the birth of online gaming and tournaments.


May:  Generally regarded as the world’s first esports event, the Red Annihilation tournament was a Quake competition held in the United States with over 2,000 participants. The top 16 players were flown to Atlanta, Georgia for the final phase of the competition that was covered by The Wall Street Journal and NBC’s Today.

Graphic used with permission from NJ


winter: VR Master League is established by DaKinMan to support Onward players who wanted a more formal tournament system.

June:  VR Challenger League was launched, sponsored by Oculus, Intel and ESL, featuring the following games:

July – August:  Online Qualifiers for The Unspoken and Echo Arena

October 11-12:  Echo Arena NA regionals at Oculus Connect

October 28-29:  Echo Arena EU regionals at ESL One Hamburg

November 18-19:  The Unspoken NA regionals at IEM Oakland

Nov. 30 – Dec. 3:  The Unspoken EU regionals at DreamHack Winter


January: Collegiate Virtual Reality eSports was started by four college friends who wanted a league of their own for college level competitors.

March 3-4:  VR Challenger League Grand Finals at IEM (Intel Extreme Masters) in Katowice, Poland

Image credit: ESL / VR League

May 17:  Season 2 is announced with some major changes.

  • The name was officially changed from VR Challenger League simply to VR League.
  • Oculus announces that up to seven new games could be added to the competitive lineup.

May 18:  Season 2 competition began in The Unspoken.

May 20:  Season 2 competition began for Echo Arena.

June 4:  Season 2 competition began for Sprint Vector.

June 16-17:  VR League features Onward Invitational as part of a cooperation between VR League and VR Master League. Teams fought for a $10,000 prize pool sponsored by Stack Up, ESL and Oculus.

July 14-15:     Echo Arena Invitational Event at the ESL studios in Leicester, UK with a $15,000 prize pool.

August 20-25: The International 2018: Dota 2 Championships have largest prize pool in history of esports, topping in at over 25 million dollars.

Graphic used with permission from NJ

September 1-2:  ESL & Oculus Invitational in Leicester, UK was also part of the Onward World Finals Qualifier. The fourth and final team for Oculus Connect earned their spot at this event.

September 26-27:  VR League season 2 grand finals, with a $120,000 prize pool, were held at Oculus Connect 5 in San Jose, California, featuring the following games.

October: Virtual Athletics League announces official sponsorship from HTC and HP. VAL is a league designed to support VR arcades.

December 13-16:  Oculus and ESL sponsor the Change the Game VR Charity Challenge, a fun competitive event designed to promote two deserving charities. This year’s event featured Stack Up and Take This.

Esports revenue for 2018 exceeded $900 million and is expected to pass $1 billion by 2021. Virtual reality esports is still a new field, but with projected growth of sales for hardware such as the Oculus Quest, there is no reason to think growth of VR esports will slow down.

Graphic used with permission from NJ


March 3: VR League Season 3 officially kicked off with show matches in Echo Combat and Onward at IEM Katowice, Poland with a $250,000 prize pool.

March 24: VR League Season 3 begins, featuring Echo Arena, Onward, Echo Combat, and Space Junkies

June 8-9: VR League Season 3 finals in Leicester, England

October: VRality launches League of International VR Esports Season 1


April: Plans announced to launch Hockey VR League

May: League of International VR Esports begins 2020 season with BigBox VR’s SmashBox Arena and One Hamsa’s Racket:Nx

May 13-14: Echo Arena Rookie Crossplay Cup – competitive tournament for new players competing on both Rift and Quest headsets

May 16-17: Pavlov VR Master League Season 6 Championship Finals / Onward VR Master League Season 9 Championship Finals

May 23-24: Echo Arena VR Master League Season 1 Championship Finals

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