The esports world is growing rapidly as more and more people accept that video games and augmented reality hybrids may be the future of sports as we know it. Until we make a ruling on that, video games provide an adrenaline-filled hobby that is not only exceptionally fun, but also feels like a measure of achievement as our skills progress. As the esports world grows larger, more and more gamers will go pro in search of sponsorships and a career path.
With this in mind, we’re taking a look at some of the biggest esports games of 2020.
FIFA 21 released this past October and has already claimed its spot as the best soccer game in the esports world. Soccer fans are known for being immensely competitive in all aspects of the sport from supporting their favorite teams, to testing their skills and knowledge with fantasy sports and video games as well. When the soccer season is underway, you will see popular platforms such as DraftKings offer free bets and $1,000 sign up bonuses for this dedicated group while the esports market around games like FIFA 21 really kicks off as well. With its fast and sleek gameplay, huge roster of real world players and multiple game modes, FIFA 21 is a fantastic entry to the series.
While competitive esports players may have their own opinions on what truly constitutes an esports game, the success of Fortnite cannot be denied. This free-to-play game has absolutely exploded in the last two years thanks to clever marketing and a big push from video game streamers. The developer of the game, Epic Games, did an excellent job at promoting Fortnite as an esports title and setting up major tournaments for it.
Throughout 2019, an estimated $100 million dollars was given out in the prize pools of various competitions. It’s easy to see why Fortnite has attracted over 350 million players around the world making it one of the most successful games of the last decade.
While the player base of Tekken 7 cannot compare to the overwhelming numbers that Fortnite has amassed, fighting games in general appeal to a smaller audience. When compared to First Person Shooters (FPS) or massively multiplayer games, fighting games are clearly a niche genre. With that in mind, the growth that Tekken 7 has made over the last three years is very impressive.
While other popular fighting games like Street Fighter V and Mortal Kombat 11 seem to be faltering, the Tekken user base keeps growing. Evo Las Vegas prominently featured the game in 2019 and received staggering viewership for their live tournament. Tekken 7 is about to release their fourth “season” meaning more characters and stages to play on. On the list of esports fighting games, Tekken 7 sits right at the top.
When you look at the esports market, you’ll find very few games that stray away from the standard types of gameplay. Among all of the bland offerings is Rocket League, a game that presents something completely new and fresh. The premise is simple, Rocket League is essentially soccer with high powered cars capable of nitro boosting and flying through the air. It’s very exciting to watch and compete in, and the Rocket League Champion Series grows in attendance and viewership every year.
Rainbow 6 Siege
Even among other FPS games, Rainbow 6 Siege is taken very seriously. This is not a run-and-gun type of shooter like the Call of Duty series, this is a tactical and laser-precise type of game where every decision could be fatal. The Rainbow 6 series has always attracted the most hardcore gamers that enjoy a serious challenge. This may somewhat stifle the user base from growing, but Rainbow 6 Siege still pulls impressive viewership numbers.
The most recent major tournament, The Six International, regularly had over 100k viewers in the championship rounds. Overall, there was $3 million in cash prizes with the winning team, Space Station Gaming, taking home $1 million alone.
The Dota series are multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games that pit two teams against each other with each player selecting one “hero” who has their own signature abilities. The fantasy elements of the game include magic, dragons, monsters and more. Dota 2 is almost a legacy game at this point with more than 7 years of gaming under its belt, but it isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
What makes this game so appealing is that it is free-to-play and has a massive PC fanbase. Especially popular in countries like Russia, China, and Thailand, Dota 2 brings together teams from all over the world in heated competition. The annual Dota 2 International tournament regularly features over $30 million dollars in prizes.
In terms of addictive gameplay and fast, simple playstyle, Overwatch is hard to beat. The colorful level designs are reminiscent of Team Fortress 2 and the many interesting characters provide different play styles and strategies. For a straightforward FPS that has no campaign mode and is easy to pick up, Overwatch has surprising replay value and is a favorite amongst pro gamers.
The United States and South Korea are by far the strongest countries in this game, though many other countries have their own esports teams. Overwatch also has its own league where the top teams compete for weeks to prove who is truly the best. The prize pool for the league is substantial at $5 million dollars.
Few gamers would have expected Hearthstone to be as successful as it is, but the community around this card-based game is dedicated and has kept the game going for over 6 years. The free-to-play collectible card game was made by Blizzard studios, the same studio responsible for popular titles like Overwatch and World of Warcraft. Competitive Hearthstone started with major tournaments in Asia only but soon spread across Europe and the US due to popular demand. The 2019 Hearthstone World Championship drew 279k viewers at its peak, with a $4 million dollar prize pool.
Counter Strike is the birthplace of competitive esports as far as many gamers are concerned. Every step of the way in the growth of esports has had at least one Counter-Strike game to accompany it. Now, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the main FPS game of major esports tournaments and still has hundreds of teams around the world that compete in it. This is the gold standard of competitive FPS games and even after 8 years, it is not slowing down at all. The main Counter-Strike league, ESL, had a massive prize pool of $21.8 million in 2019.