1999-2001 (the pre-historic era)
1999: The beginnings. I barely remember much from this era, other than having noob fun on Barry's World FFA servers with full GFX on, and having a blast railing people on air and seeing the gibs splat around.
Competitive names in this era? Probably the likes of Lakerman, Panicore, and Polosatiy where already playing.
2000 : The CPL era with fatal1ty, Zero4, chaoticz... USA reigned this era mostly, before russians took over.
2001: I don't remember much in there, other than watching some iC TDM matches on CPL London. I wasn't able to see much due bad internet. Americans still dominating big tournaments. I specially have fond memories of daler, an insanely aggressive player. The concept of eSports for a living shaping up here.
The golden ages (2002-2005)
2002: Skills were begining to sharpen up really high. Crazy flick rails. unk1nd was at his best with some crazy WCG performance. The first time I was seeing these insane rail flickshots with high accel. Players using cheap gear, cheap mouses and small mousepads, using that akward russian style position. The way he moved was different, due his accel and sharp movements.
A spanish player (Akiles) placing 2nd on WCG as an underdog was pretty shocking, I expected other names there. He did good. I remember a pretty good game against chaoticz in DM6.
This was the only WCG ever with Quake, unfortunately.
This is my most nostalgic era as I fall in love with duel and understood the dephtness of it all. I still remember djWHEAT being great as a shoutcaster. We were having a good time in GTV using Winamp with some pluging to sync the audio to the GTV. No trolling or complaining, just excitement for the matches. The increase in skill, people involved and the huge stage in WCG finals makes me mark this as the begining of the "golden age".
2003: Russian domination beggins with Cooller, amazed by the control in his game. Took item control and positioning to the next level. Amazing performance in DM6 by Cooller humilliating the great ZeRo4, he was powerless.
At this point there was a clear elite which would take you years of hard work to attempt to dethrone.
2004: Some good tournaments but didn't enjoy as much ESWC because of some weird point system for countries. I just liked the classic 1v1 individual thing.
2005 era: ESWC 2005 was the biggest tournament with Cooller and czm finals, pretty intense. Cooller still as the #1 dueller.
A grey cloud in the horizon made me worried that good times were going to end soon.
2006-2007: Quake 4 era
The 2006-2007 era: What can I say? The very mediocre game "Quake 4" ruined this. Here I was starting to get tired of games as a whole. Since I was predicting how "eSports" was going a shitty route and dedicating time to it was a waste of time, since we didn't had an inmutable standard (which would be Quake 3, when it comes to 1v1 competitive fps). Instead I saw how they would now start to shuffle shitty modern games around wasting everyone's time.
Still, we somehow had the CPL come out of nowhere with a Quake 3 World Season which I enjoyed, even if they replaced OSP with CPMA. Sure CPMA was technically better, but something about OSP makes me very nostalgic, I missed some things from OSP, like the customization of more colourful nicknames and some other details on the cfg. It also took me some time to adjust because my mouse felt different on that mod compared to OSP.
This also introduced some new maps, if im not mistaken, the early version of what is now known as toxicity was there.
Czm, jibo, cooller, z4muz and some others were the best performers.
2007-2009 (grey clouds era)
With Q4 taking out Q3 from ESWC and Quakecon not much was happening. We had a return of Q3 in ESWC with good games but it was again removed, so I dont remember many good times there, pretty blurry memories.
2010-2013 (A new hope - QuakeLive).
With QL we had some big tournaments happening again. ESWC, Quakecons, Intel Extreme Masters. Even online tournaments with good prizes and high level, since internet connections were starting to get really good, even in less developed countries. High skill, big stages, nice prize tournaments, Rapha dominating finally giving Cooller and cypher some problems. A pretty good era. ESWC dropped it after 2010 tho... but IEM made it interesting for the following years, also Dreamhacks and Quakecons, all these tournaments made players invest time in having a good shape.
I never liked the change from 15 minute duels to 10 minute duels tho. It made the thing way less deep. It made duels kind of sameish in it's development, not as many chances for a comeback. I liked the hardcore long duel tournaments of back then, you really needed some next level dedication and stamina. This is why I can't place Rapha above Cooller. Cooller was a master in coming back in these last 5 minutes of 15 minute duels when he had problems.
2014+ (Decadence era)
QL still kept the Q3 spirit alive in the form of Quakecons, but that was it, there were literally no other big tournaments that I can think of, and a competitive game can't be kept alive with a single tournament every year, well it can, but not at its full potential. If at least it was an epic tournament (kind of what F1 is in racing, a very elitist tournament for a very elitist game), but no, it was a pretty damn mediocre tournament. Players started lossing interest. We had many of them going into shitty games like Overwatch, Shootmania happened earlier I think... we also even had Cooller eventually going to CS:GO of all games.
QC was released and as I expected (beside the also expected problems engine-wise with again, very awkward physics/feel as experienced in Q4) it was just a gimmified Quake, moving away from The Duel Standard, trying to gain some popularity from the LoL hype, which would quickly die off to be replaced by a game that caters for all the addictive parts of every millenial game ever (the lame shotting and slow walking physics of CS, the building of Minecraft, the ludopathy-inducing opening of chests of Clash Royale, the Hunger Games hype...) giving birth to the abomination known as Fortnite.
All the foundations of solid, worth-calling-eSports-for gameplay was lost at this point. All these epic nerve-breaking sudden death times on 1v1 between two elite players have been replaced by gimmicks, which have broken any hopes of having a true standard. "Profesional gamers" are forced to jump from game to increasingly shitty game because otherwise they can't make more than minimum wage. The idiocy of trying to reinvent the wheel. Just imagine Kasparov and KO getting told that the chessboard and rules will be changed every year. This is what eSport is, a clusterfuck of retardation that broke 10+ years of fine tunning skillsets invested into the best game ever, in exchange of short lived mediocrity.
Unless somehow the Quake 3 Duel Standard gets adopted by a future generation or someone with a lot of money decides to host a big tournament to keep it alive high skill wise, I guess we are stuck here forever, kind of like the universe in 100 trillion years. The dark era.