The video game industry now has the honour of calling itself the most lucrative strand within the world of entertainment, becoming worth more than its film and music rivals put together over the course of the last year or so. Thanks to the influx of investments from huge multinational companies and seriously influential celebrity figures, the competitive strand of gaming (known in the industry as ‘Esports’) has led this surge over the past decade or so.
With the industry followed by millions around the world, here’s your definitive guide to
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) was first released back in October by Valve Corporation as the fourth major instalment in their flagship first person shooter series. Unlike rival shooter titles present in the world of gaming, CS:GO emphasises the need for planning, patience, teamwork, communication and precise bursts of action, rather than the all-out ‘spray and pray’ approaches in said competitors.
The game revolves around two teams, the Terrorists (T) and Counter-Terrorists, competing against each other in a best of thirty round format. Rounds last 1:55, and players are given their own economy to manage which they can use to buy armour, weaponry and bits of utility such as grenades, defuse kits etc.
The reaction speeds needed to compete against the world’s best, the understanding of the subtle nuances behind each call and strategy and all of the various mental aspects that come with playing such a high adrenaline game help to make CS:GO one of the world’s most richly celebrated and followed Esport titles.
League of Legends
One of the most famous and influential video games of all time, League of Legends (LoL) was released in 2011 by Riot Games and led the way as the industry morphed into the state the industry is in even today.
One of the world’s first MOBA (Massively Online Multiplayer Battle Arena) titles ever released, League of Legends allowed gamers to get together in groups online and put multiplayer gaming at the forefront of the industry. It also brought about the rise in microtransactions as a way for developers to make their money, both of which have become complete staples within the community to this day.
One look at the LoL betting odds available to fans on Esports specialist sites such as Unikrn.com will show just how stacked and diverse the game’s competitive scene has become over the years. The competitive scene is organised into regional divisions, with Riot hosting an annual Worlds Championship as the climax to the season; Worlds is arguably the biggest event in the entire Esports industry, so often blurring the lines between hyper competitive sporting event and a jaw dropping entertainment spectacle.
At the other end of the MOBA community of titles is Valve Corporation’s Defence of the Ancients 2 (Dota 2); released in July 2013, the game follows a similar sort of premise as LoL with sides using heroes to destroy enemy towers and utilising various perks, levels and player vs. environment (PvE) features on the map to upgrade better and faster than their opponents.
It is generally agreed upon in the gaming community that, out of the two major MOBA titles, Dota 2 has the higher skill ceiling and is a trickier game for casual players to master, whilst League of Legends still has a relatively friendly entry level.
Dota 2 has the honour of saying that it is the game with the world’s most lucrative gaming tournament however, with the annual International tournament making up four of the top five prize pools ever seen in the Esports industry, with the 2019 edition still holding the record with its $35 million purse.
Blizzard Entertainment are known for their extended Warcraft universe, which they have taken into the world of Esports through titles such as World of Warcraft, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm. Overwatch was released in 2015 as something completely new in the Blizzard world however, marking their first foray into the world of first person shooters and really saw the company step up their standing in the competitive gaming world.
The Overwatch League was founded as the first company-operated franchise-styled international Esports tournament, and brings together all of the world’s best teams from around the globe in an NFL format event. Spots in the league apparently cost $20 million, and sides such as San Francisco Shock and Paris Eternal have secured some seriously lucrative investments from the likes of Shaquille O’Neal to Jennifer Lopez.
The league has proven to be one of the most influential developments in the structuring of Esports tournaments over the past five years or so, with similar style tournaments being set up in League of Legends, CS:GO and Call of Duty.