Every year without fail, hundreds of thousands of gaming fans across the world head to major stadiums to check out live eSports tournaments. It’s really not hard to see why there is such a pull to these sorts of events: the atmosphere is electric, the professional gamers are lightyears ahead of anyone else, and you just know you’re on the cusp of greatness, as eSports is still relatively young but increasing in popularity all the time.
Even if you can’t actually make it to the arena to watch these eSports tournaments, many of the matches are streamed live via Twitch, which has been a literal game-changer for the eSports industry. It’s now a beautiful cohesion of fans wanting to see these games being played live and having the means to do it.
But, of course, certain games rise above others when it comes to a worldwide following, so according to Newzoo’s list of hours spent watching on Twitch from December 2017, we’re going to discuss the top 5 most popular eSports games. Let’s begin the countdown.
Call of Duty: WWII
Call of Duty has been an incredibly popular FPS franchise for several years, but many fans were beginning to tire of the direction the games were heading in, primarily due to the fact that it was going very sci-fi with Infinite Warfare and Advanced Warfare, in particular. However, with WWII, the franchise has gone back to its roots, so to speak, and we’re back to fighting Nazi Germany in World War II. The guns might be a bit heavier and slower than we’re used to in modern times, but they still pack a punch and it’s nice to move away from jetpacks and wall runs to real-life combat.
Although you might raise your eyebrows at the sheer popularity received by Hearthstone due to the fact it’s basically an online card game, if you know the rules and find it interesting, then who’s to say otherwise? Hearthstone is a great example of a game not needing huge set pieces and cutting-edge graphics to be enjoyable The game has a well-documented steep learning curve and is merciless to new players, but if you endure, then you’ll find yourself a hardened player in no time. Using characters from World of Warcraft, Hearthstone is a surprise hit and is actually more fun to watch than you might think.
League of Legends
League of Legends is a veteran in the eSports scene and it’s actually quite surprising that it came in at number three. The gameplay is frantic and intense from start to finish (common with MOBA games), but if you can work out what’s happening, then you’ll see that there is a lot of strategy and incredible execution going on amongst the battles. Many of the world’s most famous eSports gamers are LoL players, including several from South Korea, where the game is incredibly prevalent. The characters are hugely entertaining and each one has a unique set of skills, meaning that any way you play League of Legends, you’re playing it in a way that suits you.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Facebook is now rivaling Twitch in terms of broadcasting live eSports matches, and one of the major games it will show is Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with eSports, as the game is simply thrilling to watch. The gameplay is very different from that of other FPS games like Call of Duty or even Halo, but it still involves working together as a team and using a vast array of weapons to take down your opponents. It’s very frustrating some of the time, but always enjoyable as a spectator or player.
Whilst many argue over which MOBA game is more popular when comparing League of Legends and Dota 2, it’s clear as day that the latter absolutely takes the crown. The gameplay is fairly similar to Lol, but the prize money for matches is a lot higher, the amount of tournaments across the world is bigger, and The International – the gaming version of the UEFA Champions League – is simply epic in scope and regularly pulls in a staggering viewership every year. If you can become an elite player for Dota 2, then you could easily have a career in eSports.