Competitive esports has grown exponentially over the years, captivating audiences worldwide with thrilling gameplay, intense rivalries, and massive prize pools. Esports has become increasingly mainstream as its popularity surges, with events live-streamed online and sites for betting on football also offering odds on the most prominent esports events. Whether you are a seasoned sports enthusiast or a newcomer to the world of professional gaming, our guide will give you insight into the games that have taken the competitive gaming world by storm.
League of Legends
You may know LOL as an acronym for Laugh Out Loud, but it means something entirely different in esports. LoL is what gamers shorten League of Legends to, one of the most played and watched esports titles globally.
Riot Games developed League of Legends and released the real-time strategy game in 2009. The game features two teams of five players, each competing to destroy the enemy’s Nexus, the core building in their base. Matches occur on a three-lane map, with teams aiming to secure objectives, kill enemy champions, and gain an advantage on their way to victory.
In 2020, the League of Legends World Championship (Worlds 2020) saw a $2,250,000 prize pool and a first-place prize weighing in at $556,250. Team DAMWON, comprised of Kimg Chang-dong, Kim Geon-bu, Heo Su, Kim Hyuk-kyu, Yoon Seol, and Kim Heong-gyu, emerged victoriously.
The 2023 edition of the Worlds takes place on October 10 in South Korea.
Dota 2, or Defense of the Ancients to give the game its full name, became an overnight success when Valve Corporation released it in 2013. Not only is Dota 2 crammed with intricate mechanics and strategic depth, but it also boasts some of the biggest prizes in the esports industry.
Known as The International, Dota 2’s annual championship event is the tournament that sets esports fans tingling with excitement. The International 2021 was initially intended to take place at the Avicii Arena in Stockholm in August 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic put paid to those plans. Instead, Romania hosted the event in October 2017, and what an event it was.
The prize pool tipped the scales at more than $40 million, resulting in a staggering $18.2 million first-place prize! Remember how your mom said playing video games would never amount to anything? Maybe point her in the direction of this article. Team Spirit was the 2021 champions, with Ilya “Yatoro” Mulyarchuk, Alexander “TORONTOTOKYO” Khertek, Magomed “collapse” Khalilov, Miroslaw “Mira” Kolpakov, Yaroslav “Miposhka” Naidenov, and Airat “Silent” Gaziev making up the record-breaking winning team.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO)
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is a first-person shooter developed by Valve Corporation and a name synonymous with esports. Most people’s minds automatically think of CS:GO when asked about competitive gaming.
CS:GO is esports in its purest form, matching two opposing teams in a battle to complete objectives or eliminate the other team. The best teams are precision shooters who spend countless hours developing strategy and improving teamwork.
Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev is considered one of the best CS:GO players to have ever loaded the game. His individual success is nothing short of incredible. As is that of Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz, one of the most consistent players and someone with multiple Major championships under his belt while representing team Astralis.
However, the biggest winning CS:GO player of all time is Danish professional Peter Rothmann “dupreeh” Rasmussen. The Dane is the only player to have competed in all 18 Majors and is the only CS:GO player to eclipse $2 million in winnings. Rasmussen is also the only player in the world with five Major titles; he is a true CS:GO legend.
Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch is a team-based first-person shooter with a diverse cast of heroes, each with distinct abilities. The vast catalog of playable characters makes Overwatch one of the most dynamic and exciting esports titles out there, so it is no surprise to see major events boasting colossal prize pools.
The Overwatch League (OWL) is the premier Overwatch competition. The 2020 edition of the Overwatch League Grand Finals saw a purse of $3,050,000 million, the largest in the competition’s young history. San Francisco Shock defeated Seoul Dynasty 4-2 to become the champions.
That day, San Francisco Shock comprised of Kwon “Striker” Nam-joo, Kim “Rascal” Dong-jun, Sean “tauyo” Taiyo, Lee “ANS” Seon-chang, Matthew “super” DeLisi, Yoo “smurf” Myeong-hwan, Choi “ChoiHyoBin” Hyo-bin, Grant “Moth” Espe, Park “Viol2t” Min-ki, and Leoo “Twilight” Joo-seok, and they won a share of $1,500,000.
Epic Games’ battle royale game, Fortnite, took the gaming world by storm immediately after its release in September 2017, thanks, in part, to its free-to-play model and unique building mechanics.
Two years after the game’s release, Epic Games ran the inaugural Fortnite World Cup at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City. There were rumors that Epic Games was prepared to create a massive prize pool, and they delivered by putting $30 million on the table! Anyone finishing in the top ten won $225,000, but the star of the show was 16-year-old American Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, who earned almost twice as many points as anyone else. His reward? A life-changing $3 million!
Although the five games mentioned above are head and shoulders above the rest regarding being a part of the competitive esports scene, many other games are on the periphery of the top five. Call of Duty continues to prove popular, although CS:GO has the market cornered. Rainbow Six is another first-person tactical shooter that is played competitively.
Pro games still take each other at Street Fighter and Tekken, while sports fans go heads-up-head in FIFA (although it is now called EA Sports FC), Madden, and NBA 2K. Then there is the massive world of competitive racing sims; the possibilities are endless.