Way back in 1995 two students (John Vechey and Brian Fiete) created a computer game they called Attack Retrieve Capture which they then hosted on a network called Hoopy Entertainment.
This game was effectively a multiplayer game where people around the world with an internet connection could join teams and fight against each other with little flying saucer ships. Before the likes of Modern Warfare and other online games in which eSports has evolved into today. The community then on this game started their own leagues in order to capture the flag and crown the top clan.
Effectively this might have been one of the first ever games to host large numbers of players fighting this style of game. A standard game normally consists of eight players in a 4v4 match. There were other maps that could host 32 players against each other and there were one or two maps that could house 64 players against each other. That’s a lot of players attacking each other in their little ships and maybe this is the historical aspect which has been over-looked by the current industry of techno wizards.
At its height in the 1990s the game had a user base of a few thousand, not a lot but it could have done better if it wasn’t so miss-managed by the companies that brought the game and then swallowed it up into the downfall of Sierra Entertainment.
Sadly, the game is no longer with us, but there are other forms of it out there and the community has passed on. However, it could be said because of the games unique ability for multiplayer it could have been the first to have such high player numbers facing off against each other. Only history will know.
A snippet of ARC I uploaded years ago to YouTube, looks a bit laggy, joggy, but the game played smoothly.