ESports Continue to Explode In Popularity
Once, video games were seen as a trivial diversion, a way to spend some time having fun while indoors. Times have changed in a big way. Now video games are rivalling traditional sports leagues for viewers and sponsors.
Esports, or competitive video game play, is exploding in popularity, driven by video game companies and organizations staking massive prize pools and millions of gamers around the world tuning into see their favorite games being played at the top level.
Now, a growing segment of the population follows league esports and esports games the same way a fan might support their favorite football team. Within the world of esports, star players have achieved fame and made millions of dollars in prizes. Dozens of US colleges are now offering esports programs within their curricula. Esports are far more than a passing fad – They’re growing more popular with each passing year.
Which Games have the Most Competition?
When it comes to the highest levels of esports, two factors drive the competition: How popular is the game, and how big are the prize pools? In 2019, no game has had a larger player base than Fortnite, with an estimated 8 million plus players logged on concurrently. With all those players, competition at the highest level is fierce. Games like Counter-Strike and Dota 2 also draw nearly one million players at a time, making them among the most popular modern games as well.
For prize pools, no game comes close to Dota 2. In fact, the prize pools for Dota 2 are so lucrative that a list of the 50 professional esports players by all-time career earnings, the list is dominated by Dota 2 pros. League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Hearthstone are all games which have sunk significant resources into creating a viable league or tournament scene, and competition is appropriately fierce as a result.
Some older games remain big attractions on the esports scene, with Starcraft and Starcraft 2 in particular being notable as a game released quite a while ago, but maintains a robust esports scene.
Biggest Esports Teams
Some of the most prominent esports teams in the world are in the sport of Dota 2, which involves five teammates playing cooperatively to defeat a team of five other players. Some of the legendary Dota 2 teams, like Evil Geniuses, Team OG, Team Liquid have been fielding squads for years and racking up over 10 million dollars in earnings over the course of their lifespans. These teams’ rosters have fluctuated over time, with some of the top players switching from powerhouse team to powerhouse team in moves that make big headlines in esports news.
Just like Dota 2, League of Legends is a cooperative game featuring five teammates playing collaboratively at the same time. Probably the greatest League of Legends team ever is SKT T1, but a number of other G2 Sports, Fnatic and other strong teams have populated the landscape of competitive League of Legends.
Other notable teams are Astralis in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Team Archon in Hearthstone, and FaZe Clan in Fortnite. Many of the biggest teams span over multiple esports, like Team Liquid and Virtus.pro.
Most Popular Esports Competitions
Looking solely at the prize pool, nothing comes close in the world of esports to the annual Dota 2 tournament known as The Invitational. Each year’s Invitational for the past several years have awarded a grand prize pool averaging over 10 million dollars, equating to around 2 million dollars for each of the five players on the roster.
If focusing more on overall viewership than prize pool, Overwatch League currently holds the crown. Rather than an individual tournament, Overwatch League is a league modeled on many other professional sports leagues. Overwatch League features teams tied to city locations, and plays both a regular season and a playoff culminating in a league championship.
A running series of events for the most popular game in the world is the Fortnite Summer Skirmish. Starting in mid-2018, Fortnite developers Epic began running a series of weekly events, paying out millions of dollars in prizes over the course of the Skirmish. Given Fortnite’s massive player base, the Summer Skirmish attracts a huge number of spectators.
These tournaments are only a few among the many massive tournaments and leagues supporting the dozens of games with a thriving esports scene. While Dota 2 is the top of the heap for prize pool, and Fortnite pulls the most eyes, a number of games have been running consistent esports competitions for years, and the number of esports entrants continues to grow.