The eSports scene keeps on growing and this year we will even have an Olympic version of eSports. Blizzard is going full into competitive gaming right now with new game modes in both Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. Seeing how Activision Blizzard can easily become one if not the biggest players in the eSports scene, we decided to give you our top 5 list of eSport titles that have official tournaments and leagues right now. The core idea behind this list is not to take the titles that have the most viewers or players at the moment, but instead focus on games that have a larger influence on the industry as a whole. Here are the top 5 eSports games:
5. League of Legends
Last on our list we find League of Legends, which might surprise a lot of fans given it doesn’t rank higher. It is a game that has a lot of players, many huge tournaments and great prize pools. But while many gamers have heard of the game, it is a very complex game to understand fully and one that has had a hard time reaching a non-gaming audience. Everything with League of Legends can be really exciting, whether it is the roster the team picked for the match or different tactics used within in a game. But it is only exciting and intense if you know all the characters and how they work with and against other characters. Still, League of Legends outshine many games that want to be called an eSports title, which makes fit well on this list.
4. Dota 2
Dota 2 has a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses as League of Legends. The great variations that comes with all the different heroes opens up for the thickest playbook one can imagine in eSports. It can also make every match unique and unpredictable since we have no idea what players will cook up in a given game. But despite an effort to have noob channels with the bigger competition, it never really reaches the general public that it does within the MOBA community. The reason for Dota 2 to score higher then League of Legends on this list is its greater exposure in other non-gaming media and the prize pools, which engage viewers in a whole new way. Valve have manage to get viewers excited for every year of their big championships by letting the viewers be part of the competition and its prize pool, and also receiving some swag while doing it. Dota 2 is really trying to mimic parts of other sports like football or soccer by introducing things like the compendium.
While Hearthstone is rather new to the eSports scene, compared with both Dota 2 and League of Legends, it is a game that has grown quite a lot in a very small time and one that has brought in many viewers. Hearthstone is a game that has a huge amount of depth when it comes to deck building, even if some cards have proven to heavily outweigh other cards. This depth is one of the reason for why the game is a fitting eSports title. You never really know what cards the players will play or how they will combine the cards that are handed out. Most importantly when it comes to Hearthstone, it is a card game, and many people have some connection to card games, even if they are not TCGs in any way.
Hearthstone is made for viewing purposes, the cards are shown in a pedagogical way, which makes it easy to grasp what the card does even if you haven’t seen it before. Due to the familiarity most people have with card games, it shortens the time you have to spend with it before you know enough to understand the game itself. These are all points that make Hearthstone one of the best eSports titles, despite not having the same number of professional players, sponsors or prize money that other games have.
- Rocket League
Although Rocket League still feels fresh as an eSport, given how the game isn’t even a year old yet, it is still the game on this list that holds the greatest potential. The depth of the game isn’t even close to what we find in the other games on this list, but it has something far more important for an eSport title; it is easy to understand, easy to watch and has short matches that make it perfect for viewing. The core concept of Rocket League will be familiar to anyone who has encountered soccer in any way. The game is about putting the ball into the other team’s goal, and the team with the most goals win. Even if you can do this in a huge number of different ways, the core is so plain that you can understand the game after the first match. The intensity of the game also helps to make it interesting for viewers. Five minutes of cars pushing a ball back and forth will get the viewer jumping in their set whenever the ball comes close to the goal. If there is one eSports title you should show to your parents, or even grandparents, it is Rocket League.
Counter-Strike is by far the game that has made the most for the eSports scene. Before CS made its way into competitive play, there really was no other game that people actually stayed to watch. Counter-Strike is one of the longest lasting eSports titles and still prospers in its new form as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Most players that grew up with eSports have some connection with Counter-Strike: it has always been there and will probably be around for quite some time. It is also a game that has made its way outside of the gaming scene, towards a more mainstreamed audience. It is now possible to watch matches of Counter-Strike on regular TV channels and the teams are becoming known to the public in an entirely new way.
There are a lot of games that didn't make this list for various reasons. The one that might seem natural to have on the list is StarCraft 2, which would have been sixth. The reason why this famous and excellent game didn't make the list is because of a decline in both professional and amateur play. Blizzard didn't push nearly hard enough for it to have a global presence, and it got left behind everywhere except Korea. The first Guild Wars is also a game that would have been a good fit for this list when it was at its peak. ArneaNet had a great structure for its competitions, especially the World Championship of Guild Wars. Unfortunately, Guild Wars 2 doesn’t have the potential to become what the first was for the competitive scene yet.