Esports was born from titles which were released in the past decade or so with the likes of; CS:GO, League of Legends and Dota 2 the earliest yet most popular esports that are still as relevant today.

The esports industry as it is today in 2021, is a world away from anything that was active during the late 90s or early 2000s and because of that so many hugely popular video games missed the opportunity to be considered for the competitive gaming scene. We think these five hit titles would have made great esports if they were released today.

Total War Series

When it comes to pure strategy and an opportunity to test your battle mind you needn’t look any further than the Total War series. The first title was released back in 2000 with the Shogun: Total War title, fast forward 20 odd years and the franchise has released 14 titles across many different eras of battlefield warfare. This Creative Assembly title was even used as the game engine of a BBC TV show; Time Commanders where teams of four contestants would face famous battles from history, mastermind their strategy and command their forces. During each game a pair of military specialists would analyse the performance of the players, showing just how seriously taken the Total War engine is among the military world. 

With the game demanding such wit and shrewd tactics, this early 2000 classic series would have made a great candidate for a top competitive esport. 

Medal of Honor 

Call of Duty has been the dominant force in military FPS since it’s first cross-console title release in 2006 with Call of Duty 3. However, it wasn’t always that way with Medal of Honor generally seen as the most popular FPS game of the early playstation era. With its historic world war 2 story lines and similar engine to that of the early Call of Duty games. Although Call of Duty is nowhere near as big as the leading FPS esport; Counter-Strike:GO, there is an active competitive scene and Medal of Honor would have had just as strong claims to have a professional competitive gaming industry.

Z

If you are a millennial then the chances are you may not have even heard of this console real-time strategy game. But for anyone who had a Playstation 1 in the late 90s may just remember this title fondly. 

Unlike traditional real-time strategy (RTS) games, collecting resources or building specific structures is unnecessary for creating an army in Z. The gameplay was quite unique for its time: for example; vehicle drivers could take damage from enemy fire and if the driver was eliminated, the vehicle could be captured. 

At the time of release Z was also praised for being more complex, intense and challenging compared to other games of its time like classic strategy game Command & Conquer. This level of complexity and obvious skill needed by players could have made Z a great shout for an Esport back in the day. 

Stronghold

Stronghold is a historic real-time strategy game game by Firefly Studios. It was first released at the turn of the century in 2001. The English version of the game focuses on Medieval Britain in the wake of the Norman Conquest, post 1066. In terms of finding a historic strategy wargame that has the closest match to real life events and castles, Stronghold is certainly top of the pile.

Naturally Stronghold had an online multiplayer mode and the online community is still going strong today. With battlefield tactics key to Stronghold success, this game had everything to have a strong competitive scene. 

Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines

Another late 90s entry to our classic games that we think would have made great esports is Pyro Studios’ Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines. The gameplay sees players take control of a group of six commandos, who conduct a range of missions and objectives using small unit tactics. The game proved to be a commercial success, with global sales above 1 million units. Although the game was a single player game, it had all the characteristics of a multiplayer game, with players having to mastermind tactics to complete missions. Could this late 90s release have made it as an esport if it was a big back then?

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Hardware enthusiast, Gamer, Writer. I enjoy picking up games, putting them back down, and then writing about it.