Playing games professionally has grown over the years to become one of the fastest growing and exciting industries within the world of entertainment. The world of Esports has seen a huge influx of investment from companies ranging from Intel to the US Air Force, and continues to boast fanbases that often range into the millions of people strong. Here’s your complete guide to the five biggest Esports currently in the world.
League of Legends
League of Legends was first released in October 2009 by Riot Games, and has perhaps gone on to become the biggest face for the rise of gaming as it has become the leading light in the entertainment industry. The game is the most popular Massive Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) title in the world of Esports in terms of its player base and competitive calendar, beating out the likes of Dota, Heroes of the Storm and Smite.
According to the latest records, League of Legends has come into 2021 with roughly 115 million active monthly users, and boasts a competitive industry that has seen investments of over $75 million across LAN and Online events over the years. And League of Legends has perhaps some of the most jaw dropping events in the world of Esport; blurring the lines between stunning entertainment spectacle and adrenaline-pumping sporting tournament, tournaments such as LoL’s annual World Championships are always amongst the highlights of the Esports calendar, and never fail to pull in millions of viewers from all around the world.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The Counter-Strike series first began life as a fan-made mod for Valve’s game Half-Life 2, before being acquired by the developers and turned into its very own title in 2001. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) was first released in 2012 as the fourth major installment of the series and, whilst the series had always boasted a passionate competitive community, has really ushered in a golden age of popularity within the Esports industry.
The game was moved to a free to play model in 2018, coinciding with two of the most jaw-dropping Majors in the game’s competitive history, and CS:GO remains the most popular first person shooter (FPS) in the Esports community even today. Accessible but complete with a huge skill ceiling, CS:GO betting has become increasingly popular amongst Esports fans, with one of the most stacked and busy competitive calendars in the entire industry.
Valve’s answer to Riot’s League of Legends, Defense of the Ancients (Dota) 2 is the 2013 sequel to the original game in the franchise, first released in 2003. With both games undoubtedly the two largest MOBA titles in the entire video game industry, the rivalry between League of Legends and Dota 2 fans is one of the most passionate and well known within the community.
It’s generally agreed that, out of the two games, Dota 2 has the higher skill ceiling and is a harder title to really master. It is also the game that houses the competition with the largest single prize pool in the entire industry, with the annual International event making up four of the top five biggest prize purses ever recorded; the 2019 event still holds the record for the largest prize pool of all time when it broke past the $36 million mark.
Out of every Esport title in the world, few have managed to register the level of mainstream cultural status as Fortnite. Epic Games’ battle royale release has arguably become the face of gaming over the past couple of years, making its way into everything from real world sports celebrations to earning nods from Hollywood A-listers. The game helped birth the popularity of the battle royale genre, and made its foray into the world of competitive Esports with the first ever annual Fortnite World Cup tournament in 2019.
The event broke headlines around the world in a way no other Esport had managed, its prize pool of $35 million split across the Solos, Duos and Creative competitions set industry records for the time and the final image of sixteen year old superstar ‘Bugha’ netting himself a cool $3 million in prize winnings has become one of the most famous images in the Esports community.
Overwatch was first released by World of Warcraft developers Blizzard Entertainment in 2015 as their own venture into the lucrative world of first person shooters, however it was clear from the get go that the game was always designed with tackling the Esports industry in mind.
And whilst it doesn’t quite have the legacy of titles such as CS:GO just yet, Overwatch has proven itself to be an innovative and influential game in reshaping how events and tournaments are organised within the industry. Blizzard have almost exclusively taken the reins of Overwatch’s competitive community, organising and sponsoring the Overwatch League, a global round-robin tournament that features the best sides in the world competing over legs hosted in various venues around the world. This format has already gone on to be replicated in the likes of Call of Duty and League of Legends, and could prove to be the new norm in the coming years.