The games may not be played at the Olympics yet, but they will surely come across it sooner or later. The popularity of esports is growing rapidly, and some esports have more fans than the traditional disciplines.
E-sport is gaining fans at a surprising pace. Especially those who believe that sport involves physical effort and requires more pronounced movements than those performed with the wrist and fingers. One of the important reasons for the popularity of particular esports is that the distance between games played by professionals and those played by ordinary, gray fans is very shortened. Not only can they watch their idols during broadcasts (whether tournaments or individual ones), but also imitate their plays and tricks, which is not so easy for a ski jumping enthusiast, for example. Such fans are the most numerous, but according to statistical surveys many people just watch esports for the sole pleasure of following the competition of the best players and teams.
There are many e-sports games, but only a few attract millions of viewers and organize regular leagues and tournaments with prizes that count not only in hundreds of thousands of dollars, but sometimes in millions. Below are the ten most famous, loved and popular esports in the world.
“Counter-Strike: Global Offensive”
“CS: GO” is the oldest esports discipline, very popular in Poland, also due to the fact that it is the only one in which our players are very successful. The band, now playing as part of the Virtus.pro organization, previously won the highest laurels many times and is still among the world’s best. “Counter-Strike”, due to its tradition dating back to the 90s of the last century, enjoys the largest number of professional players and various more or less official tournaments. And when it comes to overall popularity, measured by viewer statistics on Twitch, it is now in third place in the world, with almost 50 million viewers per month.
“DOTA 2” is a work of the Valve corporation, distributed in the free-to-play model, the second most popular and the number of viewers. It is the leader when it comes to the amount of prizes in tournaments. The annual world championship, The International, breaks all records also thanks to the fact that fans can add their three cents to the pool and get all kinds of “DOTA 2” gadgets. Last year, the overall prize money at The International was almost … $ 25 million, and the European team, Team Liquid, who won the championship, split just over 10 million among their five players.
“Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft”
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is a relatively new discipline that debuted in 2013 as a nice free online card game. It is based on the known and loved by millions of the Warcraft universe created by Blizzard. It quickly turned out that “Hearthstone”, due to the simplicity of the rules and exciting duels, works quite well as a game to watch. So far, several hundred official tournaments have been organized, with a prize pool of up to a quarter of a million dollars. Trading the cards themselves also brings profits to the players.
“Heroes of the Storm”
Another work of Blizzard was created from the very beginning with esports in mind, as a possible competitor to “DOTA 2” and “League of Legends” in the arena games segment. It was not quite possible to threaten the top players, but “Heroes of the Storm”, using elements from various universes of Blizzard’s world-famous games, is constantly gaining popularity. Also thanks to the fact that its producers invest heavily in its development as a platform for professional games – official tournaments organized by Blizzard have prize pools of half a million dollars. It may not be a haircut like the DOTA 2 sums, but it still means a lot of money, a lot of interested professionals and a lot of fans.
“League of Legends”
The undisputed king of esports, both in terms of popularity among fans and the number of viewers. League of Legends itself is also one of the most popular games in the world in general, with over 100 million registered players. Mainly due to the fact that, like most games on this list, it is a title that is available for free. Many of these players are also loyal viewers of both the permanent League Championship Series, which runs locally all year round, and international tournaments as well. In 2016, the World Championship was watched by 60 million LoL fans, which is more than … the finals of the prestigious NBA league.
The black horse of this rate and the youngest of the popular esports is another creation of Blizzard. Unlike almost all other titles, “Overwatch” is not only a shooter, but also a fully paid game, and in addition a multiplatform game – most esports are purely PC games. This production is very fresh and is not yet among the top, but Blizzard is promoting it very strongly and investing in its esports side, hoping that the large player base (35 million worldwide) will also help to ignite this aspect of the game .
The only title from the entire list, which is not backed by a large corporation or an experienced studio. Smite is MOBA like many other esports and is free to play. It differs significantly from “DOTA 2” and “League of Legends” in terms of the gameplay and its approach. The makers of “Smite”, Hi-Rez, cannot afford to invest as much in esports as the major producers do, but they are organizing a championship with a prize pool of more than one million dollars.
StarCraft II is another Blizzard creation on the list. It is an e-sports nestor, just like “Counter-Strike”, present on the scene for over a dozen years in its subsequent variations and still popular all over the world. The largest fan and player base comes from Asia, especially South Korea, which is home to the best players. In fact, StarCraft is considered a national sport. The Korean domination is bravely opposed by players from Europe, including Poland, who sometimes also succeed. StarCraft is one of the most active sports on the list in terms of the number of tournaments played. If you summarize all such events from the beginning of the esports career, it turns out that there were two tournaments … a day.
“Street Fighter V”
Among the strategy, card and shooting games that dominate the esports scene, “Street Fighter V” is a very unusual discipline, while at the same time referring to one of the oldest gaming traditions in general. Street Fighter-style fighting games were present in the culture of playing from the very beginning, even on the slot machines, from which this series draws its origins. Compared to the other sports mentioned here, “SFV” cannot boast of such a number of tournaments and millions of prize pools, but the producer, the Japanese company Capcom, strongly promotes the game and hundreds of thousands of dollars can be won at the main championships.
“World of Tanks”
“WoT” is a free game with tanks in the main roles that has been on the market for several years. It gained great popularity even before its creators, Belarusian Wargaming, decided to promote the game as an e-sport. It differs from the other disciplines of “World of Tanks” not only in an obvious way, but also in that the games are played in teams of a dozen or so, and not individually or in teams of up to five, as in other cases. World of Tanks as an esport is popular mainly in the region of Eastern Europe and Russia. Twice, in 2015 and 2016, the world championship in “tanks” was held in Warsaw.
Esports matches are followed by millions of fans around the world. The competition, tension and emotions accompanying them are not less than in the case of classic, traditional sports. E-sports are still denied a place among the Olympic disciplines due to the lack of an element of physical effort. The world is changing, there are more and more players and the perception of professional games is also changing. This gives hope that the situation for esports gaming will also change over time.