The world has been buzzing with a new trend – esports. But what is esports? Well, they are essentially video games but with a slight twist. The people who play these video games are exceptionally good at them, so much that this type of gaming has received the moniker “esports,” short for electronic sports, and deservedly so.
Esports are truly amazing, and they require attributes and qualities that few people can muster the courage and patience to develop. Most esports athletes start declining at 24 because of the natural “cut-off” point in cognitive development in humans, which directly impacts gameplay. An athlete in sports can go on and play until they are 30-something, but esports athletes burn bright.
Well, this is not about the people who play and reach the summits of esports, but rather about what games are actually considered esports. Esports come in many shapes and forms, and we are sure that you have already played an esports title yourself.
Today, esports is even a viable betting product. Pinnacle was one of the first bookmakers to adopt esports betting markets in earnest, and it was actually one of few bookies at the time doing, so that really KNEW what it was getting involved with.
You can read this Pinnacle review to get the full picture, but as someone who was there when Pinnacle launched its esports markets, we can tell you that they were the only bookmaker that genuinely cared about esports fans and how it can serve them.
Dota 2 is one of the earliest games on the esports scene. It’s possible that it started it all. Players in the early days played a map modification known as “Dota,” but once Dota 2 arrived, this map-turned-video game got the attention it deserved.
The company developing it, Valve, which is known for other blockbuster competitive games, decided to put down $1 million in a tournament prize-giving an official start to big money in competitive video gaming.
Later, the company elaborated a great community-funded model that pushed The International – the official competitive event in Dota 2 – to a prize pool surpassing $40 million. That is really how esports began!
Well, Dota 2 may have long held one of the biggest prize pools in esports, but the truth about the beginning of esports goes a bit further back. In South Korea, TV stations made a bet that they could probably televise competitive video gaming, and they did. Starcraft was the game in question, and in those early days, it was a real hit.
It still is in South Korea, but as esports have become very popular, most players do avoid Starcraft because of how difficult it is. Then again, if you know a thing or two about the game itself, you can definitely appreciate how good professional players are.
Starcraft is still a very entertaining game with a very serious following, and that is why we definitely think it’s one of the best options. Both Starcraft and the sequel, Starcraft II, are highly-acclaimed titles.
League of Legends
Another game from the MOBA genre, League of Legends, is a true esports title. It has millions of followers, millions of players and is arguably the most popular game in the genre. The game has a franchised model where teams play in seasons and try to qualify for an event that is known as the Worlds. If they do, they have a shot at substantial prize pools.
League of Legends is also very accessible in terms of gameplay, and that makes it very popular with most players out there. You will be happy to know that if you wanted to try your hand at becoming an esports player in League of Legends, you would find the learning curve very mild – perhaps milder than Dota 2, which is known to be slightly more punishing to new players.
The game is developing a vibrant ecosystem that is growing all the time at a very organic pace, and that is great news if you are really into titles that combine lightsome gameplay with seemingly endless wiggle room for improvement.
Next, you have Counter-Strike. The franchise is, without doubt, the most recognized competitive title out there. For years now, Counter-Strike has been one of the leading games in competitive video gaming, and if there is a reason why this is, it’s the game’s simplicity.
You see, Counter-Strike really boils down to you eliminating the enemy team. With cut-and-dry gameplay where no special abilities are used, it all really boils down to your ability to aim and shoot. Of course, the game can be mastered at a level that looks almost super-human.
Some players develop excellent reflexes that allow them to truly stand out from the rest and push their gameplay a notch further. CS: GO, the latest installment in the franchise, is played competitively to this day.
What this means is that players will get a chance to not only show their skills at the game but also be rewarded. There are millions worth of rewards going down on CS: GO events year in and year out.
Valorant is a great shooter game by Riot Games, the studio behind League of Legends. The game itself is predicated on a CS: GO-like gameplay, but there are many great improvements that go directly into the gameplay and make it more exciting.
While in CS: GO, the choice of role has no bearing on the actual gameplay – other than the end-game objective more or less – in Valorant, you will choose an “agent” that will determine your entire playstyle, which isn’t bad. Players are very welcome to do their best and opt for a character that fits their playstyle.
Valorant is both a game that invites a lot of casual play, but it is definitely a competitive game just as much. You can treat it any which way you prefer, and it will be an exciting journey from start to end.
Another well-established fantasy shooter game is Blizzard’s leading competitive title. Overwatch is special, not only because it is an esports but because it’s treated as an actual one. Blizzard has created a franchised model with organizations buying slots into the league and most games being played in front of a live crowd.
Actually, Overwatch has been able to pack stadiums full of esports fans, with everyone gathering in their local areas across most continents. With Overwatch 2 around the corner, there are definitely many good things happening in the esports space, and the name Overwatch definitely means something.
Fortnite is a fun game, and while it has not quite made it as an “esports” title just yet, it’s definitely trying to. The game is a battle royale, and it has been one of the most successful titles ever. With over 6 million unique registered players, Fortnite is pulling in some serious numbers. The number of actual, registered accounts is much higher, though, at 350 million accounts, at least to Charlie Intel which has verified both numbers.
Fortnite is a bit more casual, but Epic Games, the company behind it, has poured in $100 million in annual prize pools to support the burgeoning esports scene. It’s not just that, though. Now, Fortnite may sound “casual in nature,” but make no mistake – there is a lot of hard and raw FPS skill that makes it worthwhile as an esports title, and this is the way it is.
The FIFA franchise is a perfect example of how sports simulators can actually inspire video gamers. FIFA is one of the most successful and long-standing games that emulate competitive soccer, but there is a twist – it has actually spawned a real competitive scene in the video gaming space.
Many teams around the world now support their own digital team, and that allows them to reach new audiences and fans. While soccer is clearly an all-time favorite as a title that people do enjoy and want to play again and again, there is the simple truth that FIFA brings entertainment closer to people.
While it all started as just a video game, EA has pushed FIFA as a worthwhile esports title that is really making a dent in the global gaming space. Players are happy to experience a title that allows them to immerse themselves in soccer and try their hands on a competitive level.
Todd Sitrin, EA Games’ SVP of Esports, has said that EA will try to push FIFA and bring it up to a level that is similar to what League of Legends and Dota 2 offer as a competitive experience. That is an ambitious statement and one that has definitely given FIFA a lot of clout in competitive gaming.
However, to get there, EA would need to develop a lot of structures that continually drive interest in competitive FIFA gaming, which is the biggest challenge with any game. Players are welcome to participate in the $1 million eWorld Cup EA hosts every year in the meantime.