The world of video games now makes up the biggest strand of the entertainment industry, worth more than the film and music communities put together. A huge driving force behind this staggering growth over the past decade or so has been the rise of playing video games professionally for living at various events and tournaments around the world. Known in the industry as ‘Esports’, this blossoming community has seen a huge surge in partnerships and investments from companies ranging from Adidas, Intel, Mercedes and even Gucci, with a level that has been raised to well into the multi-billions.
With events such as the International and Fortnite World Cup boasting prize pools worth more than the Masters and pulling in audiences higher than the Champions League final or Super Bowl, this is an industry that should be taken seriously. With that said, here’s your full guide to some of the biggest games in the Esports industry.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike began its life as a fan-made modification for Valve’s acclaimed game Half-Life 2, with its popularity prompting the company to acquire the rights and produce the first fully-fledged game in the series all the way back in 2001. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) was released as the fourth major instalment in the franchise in 2012, and has grown into arguably the most accessible and richly stacked title in the entire industry today, especially following the company’s decision to move the game to a free to play model in 2018.
Unlike other first person shooters available to play, CS:GO is a game that emphasises the need for communication, teamwork and calculated short sharp bursts of action, rather than the all out ‘spray and pray’ approaches of franchises like Call of Duty. Factor in things such as bits of utility such as molotovs, smoke and frag grenades, a plethora of well crafted maps and a fragile economy system that rewards your performance in game and CS:GO remains the world’s most competitive FPS title in the world.
League of Legends
So often one of the games people first think of when the Esports industry is brought up, League of Legends (LoL) is a 2009 game by Riot Games that helped birth the rise of the massively multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) genre of titles. The game’s release in 2009 helped change the tide of the gaming landscape, introducing the concept of huge multiplayer formats as the new norm, and one look at the LoL odds at an Esports betting specialist site such as Unikrn.com will show exactly how developed its competitive scene has become over the past decade or so.
League of Legends revolves around a basic tower defence premise, with two sides taking control of characters known as heroes and utilising perks found in the server to level up and destroy the opposing side’s towers (known as Nexus) before they have a chance to do the same to them. Events such as the annual Worlds events have become some of the most hotly anticipated in the entire Esports calendar, often blurring the line between a hyper competitive sports tournament and a jaw-dropping entertainment spectacle.
There have been several high profile rivalries between various gaming companies and titles over the years, however few have ever reached the level of longevity and passion as the one between League of Legends and Dota 2. The two undeniable titans in the MOBA genre of video games, Dota 2 was released by Valve Corporation in July 2013 as the long-awaited sequel to their original Defence of the Ancients.
It’s generally agreed amongst the majority of Esports fanatics that, out of the two games, Dota 2 is the one that boasts the higher skill ceiling and remains one of the toughest titles to jump into and begin mastering. However, that has only led to it producing one of the most dedicated and passionate communities within the entire industry, and one that has so often pulled together to ensure their flagship tournament, The International, remains the most lucrative in the whole Esports calendar. Four of the five highest prize pools ever recorded in the Esports industry has belonged to Dota 2’s International, with the 2019 edition smashing all records when it surpassed the $35 million dollar mark.
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