Video games have become a staple of worldwide culture over the last several decades. Of course, then, it's no surprise that gamers worldwide want to know who the best player or team is in certain games. eSport competitions are the result of this drive to be the best among gamers.
Let's look at some of the top competitive eSport games out there today. We'll look at both the communities and the massive amounts of prize money annually dished out by these leagues.
An unexpected gem, this eSports game is one of the few that is kind of about sports! Rocket League is a wild take on soccer. Control cars, and dribble across a futuristic field to shut down the opponent. This game has earned not only a cult following since its initial release in 2015, but also spawned an eSports league that pays out over $7 million annually! It is one of the friendliest and easiest leagues to get involved with since the community is relatively new itself. This up and coming professional gaming scene is sure to explode as more people discover this excellent sports-action title.
Blizzard isn't content to have just a single multiplayer online battle arena or MOBA that is full of competitive, professional play. Heroes of the Storm is their masterpiece crossover video game that features characters from Warcraft, Diablo, Starcraft, and several other games they created. Its 5 on 5 matches focus on players controlling these heroes to take down the opposing team. Heroes of the Storm's free-to-play base has microtransactions but is an easily accessible way to get started in the professional world. It has under 500 tournaments annually, yet still, boasts a massive online player presence of nearly 20 million monthly users. Its professional leagues used to dish out award money totaling over $21 million annually before Blizzard shut them down in 2018.
Blizzard Entertainment is known for its ability to craft fantastic lore. Hearthstone is its competitive take on turn-based card games, featuring beloved characters from Blizzard's popular Warcraft series. Building decks and going up against other players is the core of the competitive play, with tournaments having their own unique rules and regulations. This eSport pays out nearly $20 million annually to its players. The basics are easy to learn, and Hearthstone's community is very open about tips and tricks to becoming a skilled player. This card-based eSport is accessible for players worldwide, to newcomers and veterans of the Warcraft universe alike!
This team-based multiplayer first-person shooter is another eSports title from Blizzard Entertainment. It features a new set of characters separate from the Warcraft universe, creating an entirely new and unique world. Since its initial release in 2016, Blizzard has added tons of playable characters with different roles. Teams take on other teams in deathmatch, leading to a very friendly eSports community. Plenty of newcomers have natural skills because of its first-person shooter gameplay. It's no surprise, then, that there are over 3,000 professional team players raking in nearly $22 million annually worldwide!
This free for all battle royale video game is a counter-part to the wildly popular Fortnite. Its realistic graphics follow a similar structure, with every pro out for themselves in these tournaments. The competition is easy to get into but tough to stay in, as there are always new players laying out tough challenges. The game released in 2017 and has earned international acclaim since then. Start with nothing and climb to the top in every match. Tournaments rank from semi-pro up to the most skilled players in the world. PuBG has a moderately small professional pool compared to many other eSports, coming in under 2500 in total. Its tournaments pay out handsomely for players, though, regularly topping $21 million!
Starcraft II is probably the most famous eSports video game and is known worldwide for its massive-scale tournaments and intensely competitive players. Annually, these events have an annual payout somewhere around $32 million. The team-based matches feature players working together to overwhelm and destroy an opposing team of players. There are hundreds of professional leagues worldwide for players to get involved with and over 5000 tournaments annually! Starcraft II is a staple in the eSports community because of its highly skilled players.
This popular MOBA, released in 2009, quickly earned the moniker "LoL." It has since earned a cult following, with its tournaments paying out over $73 million annually! LoL features team-based matches, where players infiltrate the opposing team's and destroy their power source. Pick from Champions with different skills inspired by everything from steampunk to classic sword and sorcery fantasy. The game has a huge player base internationally, with nearly 100 million active users monthly. The community of LoL is highly active, with the competitive scene regularly featuring new players with high skill.
This video game is a relative newcomer to the competitive eSports scene and only released in 2017. Epic Games created a massive free-for-all mode called Battle Royale, where up to 100 players drop in on a single map and fight to the death. It's easy to see why this spawned a professional field relatively quickly. While there are only about 500 tournaments a year, the payout sums average in total around $84 million annually. The first-person battle royale play style means that the community is regularly shifting, with plenty of new players coming in regularly as other eSports competitors retire.
First-person shooter games are certainly some of the most accessible communities in eSports. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is no exception. The team-based combat pits terrorists against counter-terrorists. Matches require players to destroy the other team while also completing specific objectives. Counter-Strike features several leagues, from amateur up to the top professional tiers. All of these have their tournaments and opportunity for growth within the community. In total, there are over 4600 annual tournaments that hand out $92 million in cold hard prize money!
This MOBA is the top eSports league in the world in terms of monetary payouts. The game, released in 2013 to critical praise, focuses on intense battles between two teams of five players. There are over 1300 annual tournaments from amateur to professional worldwide, with over $220 million handed out at these events. The online community regularly cheers on newcomers that rise through the ranks, and its eSports world, run by publisher Valve, is always looking for the next best team players.