Playing video games for a living was the unrealistic dream your parents always told you about, but the Esports industry is fast becoming one of the most lucrative forms of the entertainment industry in the world.
With an estimated worth of over $1 billion predicted to be on the cards in the coming months and years, here are the biggest Esports games in the world.
League of Legends
League of Legends was released by Riot Games back in the fall of 2009 and is still easily one of the most acclaimed, recognised and influential games ever made. The world’s most popular Massive Online Battleground Arena (MOBA) game, League of Legends sees two teams fight it out across a board map, with the main objective being to destroy towers known as Nexus. The game boasts a huge skill ceiling thanks to the layered amount of strategy in the game and the sudden bursts of action that can swing a game in your favour.
The game has an active player base of well over 250 million players around the world, making it the most played PC game, and events such as the annual World Championships have blurred the lines between huge entertainment spectacle and a real world sports grand final. Over 8 million people tuned in to watch the grand final of the 2020 Worlds grand final, and League of Legends betting for events such as these has become a popular pursuit for fans of the game.
League of Legends has also spawned its very own universe of merchandise and cultural references that have helped keep the game at the forefront of people’s minds when it comes to talking about Esports. The latest spinoff title for the franchise, Ruined King, was also given its first gameplay trailer this month, showcasing the continued popularity and support for the series from developer to player even today.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) was released by Valve Corporation back in 2012 as the fourth major instalment in the franchise, and quickly established as one of the most popular first person shooter titles in the world of Esports. CS:GO differs from franchises such as Call of Duty by placing far more emphasis on positioning, strategy and quick bursts of action, rather than the ‘spray and pray’ approaches so common elsewhere.
This gives CS:GO the high skill ceiling needed to carve out one of the most hyper-competitive and stacked professional scenes within the industry, with perhaps the most intense calendar for events and tournaments around the world.
The game has broken its record for its concurrent active playerbase several times throughout the course of 2020, registering over a million users three times in March, September and November alone. Tournaments and events such as the ESL Pro League, BLAST Showdown and Flashpoint series not only show the diversity in events and influx of partnerships and sponsors saturating the scene, but also serve as a reminder of the appeal the game has across all sides of the community.
The final title in the ‘big three’ Esports titles, Defence of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2) was released by Valve Corporation back in July 2013 but actually had its roots as a community-made modification for Blizzard Entertainment’s Warcraft III: Frozen Throne game.
As a MOBA title, Dota 2 is synonymous with its rivalry with League of Legends, with both fanbases constantly locking horns over which game is the better. Whilst a leyman might not be able to see too much difference on a first or second glance, it’s generally agreed that Dota 2 is the game with the higher skill ceiling and a tougher nut to crack when it comes to truly mastering the ins, outs and intricacies of getting ahead of the meta curve.
Dota 2 also has the honour of saying it houses the world’s biggest Esport event in terms of overall prize pool through its International tournament. Various editions of The International over the years make up four of the top five prize purses of all time, with the 2019 edition seeing out competition from the first Fortnite World Cup and smashing the record amount received with its $36 million prize pool.