Top10 eSports Games
When it comes to professional competition, there's no shortage of enduring games from which to choose. today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 eSports Games.
For this list, we'll be delving into the world of electronic sports, both past and present, in order to highlight those games and series that have a clear presence in the professional gaming space. From fighting games to first-person shooters, from team-based affairs to single-player endeavours, we found these titles to speak a great deal about the draw of eSports.
#10: “Smite” (2014)
Let the gods and goddess battle for our entertainment. A multiplayer online battle arena game, or MOBA for short, “Smite” pits two teams of three to five against one another in a battle for dominance. With the first Smite World Championships being hosted from January 2015, the game's blend of moment-to-moment MOBA strategy and intense 3rd person gameplay is steadily gaining a place in eSports. It can certainly pay well; the Championships had a prize pool of around $2.6 million, at the time the third-highest in eSports.
#9: “Halo” series (2001-)
From its not so humble origins, this first-person shooter franchise has made its mark in competitive gaming. Countless tournaments have arisen in the years following 2001's “Halo: Combat Evolved”, taking advantage of the wide variety of weapons and unique maps on tap. Series developer 343 Industries has even organized their own official eSports league, the Halo Championship Series, whose flagship game is “Halo 2: Anniversary”. With intense first-person action and a mix of competitive and cooperative modes, the “Halo” games have earned their place as a staple of eSports.
#8: “Pokemon” series (1996-)
In this case it's less about catching and more about fighting. The “Pokemon” games, designed around capturing and training a team of varied element-based creatures, has found a notable place in the tournament circuit. The games' easy to understand, difficult to master design comes into play, as competing players work hard to craft balanced teams of Pokemon. Tournaments focus on player versus player matches, pitting each person's team of Pokemon against one another. Mixing split-second decision by players with careful planning, it can be as challenging as it is fun. And you know it’s authentic too, since the Pokemon World Championships league is officially run by Nintendo.
#7: “Quake II” (1997)
This FPS by id Software lives on in the history of eSports. Building on the mechanics of its predecessor, “Quake II” features a multiplayer suite that includes free-for-all battles, a cooperative campaign, and a 1v1 mode. That last mode has seen notable use in official tournaments, such as the Cyberathlete Professional League, a key pioneer in professional gaming. Long before anyone ever used the term “eSport”, players were fragging eachother for cash in iconic maps like “the Edge”.
#6: “Call of Duty” series (2003-)
You certainly don't fight alone in these games. Ever since the 2007 release of “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare”, games in the “Call of Duty” series have been featured in Major League Gaming tournaments. Likely appealing for its fast-paced gunplay and customizable classes, these first-person shooters were adopted as the games of choice by eSports teams such as OpTic Gaming. The prominence of “Call of Duty” has reached such heights that at the 2014 Austin X Games, an invitational tournament for “Call of Duty: Ghosts” was held.
#5: “Super Smash Bros. Melee” (2001)
Nintendo's famed crossover brawler has seen its fair share of tournaments. First and foremost, annual tournaments for “Melee” were hosted by Major League Gaming from 2004 to 2007, with later MLG-sponsored tournaments as part of an Underground Smash Series. “Super Smash Bros. Melee” has also drawn the attention of tournaments such as Apex and Evolution Championship Series – It’s even the biggest event at the annual EVO fighting games tournament. Given that “Melee” has been noted as having fast and precision-centric combat, as well as a diverse stable of characters, it’s often the preferred Smash Bros game over the later versions for pros.
#4: “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (2012)
Should you be seeking to engage in this area of eSports, there's no shortage of options. As the most recent instalment of the “Counter-Strike” series, “Global Offensive” refined the established terrorists-versus-CT formula with a dedicated competitive mode and ranking system. Not only are there numerous third-party tournaments for “Global Offensive”, but co-developer Valve actually organizes its own series of events, known as majors. As of March 2015, tournaments for the game have awarded over $3.8 million in prize money. Wow.
#3: “StarCraft II” (2010-15)
Whether siding with Protoss, Terrans or Zerg, the enjoyable challenge of Blizzard's famed RTS exists for all players. Though the 1998 real-time strategy game “StarCraft” was a key title in professional gaming for years, its 2010 sequel proved to be a worthy successor. The unique balance between all three playable races and the addition of new units for each made for a worthwhile change of pace. Along with its national acceptance in South Korea, “StarCraft II” has been featured in tournaments such as Dreamhack, Major League Gaming and even Blizzard's own World Championship Series.
#2: “Dota 2” (2013)
What began as a sequel to the “Defense of the Ancients” mod for “Warcraft III” is now a major name in its own right. “Dota 2” falls into the MOBA genre, centred around two five-person teams fighting to destroy the opposing team's structure, herein known as an Ancient. Starting with Valve sponsoring The International annual tournament series, “Dota 2” has risen to popularity as one of the most played and most profitable eSports games in the world. From appearances in the Electronic Sports League to a dedicated series of championships in Asia, the game has secured its place in history.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
“Hearthstone: Heroes of WarCraft” (2014)
“World of Tanks” (2011)
“Street Fighter IV” series (2009-)
“Warcraft III” (2002)
“FIFA 15” (2014)
#1: “League of Legends” (2009)
All tremble before the League, for it is mighty. In all seriousness, Riot Games' MOBA title “League of Legends” has grown astoundingly popular in the years since release. The game's focus on player-controlled champions banding together to destroy other teams' nexus structures has blossomed into the basis for numerous regional tournaments – with it’s 2013 championship completely selling out the Staples Center in LA. With Riot Games organizing the League of Legends Championship Series and other companies establishing tournaments of their won, viewership and prize money regularly numbers in the millions.