I don't know what gaming tournaments were like in the 80's and 90's, however, I started playing ASL in 1999 and went to my first touney in 2001 and life was good.
ASL Tournaments are fantastic. They are the reason that ASL is the Number 1 wargame.
There is no doubt that ASL is THE most popular wargame. There are numerous tournaments across the globe. There is no other wargame that can come close.
So why are ASL Tourneys so prevelant and popular?
#1 Everyone Knows the Rules. This may seem like a strange reason, but it is the bedrock of ASL. So many games--I'm looking at you Flying Colors!--could use less "historcical realism" and more "play the fucking game and have fun!"
#2 Buddies. If it wasn't for the Wes Vaughns and Jeff DeYoungs--God help me!--and Larry Zoets and Doug Kirks and Jim Burris's and...well, that and a bunch of hookers.
#3 Every other Wargame Sucks! Lets face it, ASL=the Cardinals or Yankees. Every other wargame is the Cubs. It's unfortunate peeps acually even consider anything but ASL but then you have to take into account the David Hughes of the world, who also fanboy up Flying Colors but mock other fanboys which make everything even more confusing.