eSports games are now reaching the mainstream, having been popular in the US, China, and South Korea for years. Now that they are emerging in Europe, it is becoming more common to engage in eSports betting.
Glossary of eSports Terms
When viewing eSports games, there are some terms that will crop up much more often than others. Here is a brief glossary of key terms to give you a helping hand:
- MOBA: Multiplayer online battle arena is the classification given to what are currently some of the most popular eSports. MOBAs are an evolution on real-time strategy, offering even more frantic action.
- FPS: First-person shooters haven popular in gaming for quite some time, and now they are also establishing a place in eSports.
- RTS: Real-time strategy games have enabled players to build civilizations, but now there are slightly more fast-paced versions suited to eSports.
- KDA: In eSports, kills, deaths, and assists are some of the most commonly measured metrics and are abbreviated as KDA.
- NPC: Non-playable characters can be included in some eSports games. They are always shortened to NPCs when being discussed by players or eSports casters.
- AoE: Area of effect is used to define the dimensions in which a spell, attack, or action shall impact the game in question.
Most Popular eSports Games
There is a handful of eSports games that currently represent the cream of the crop and continue to command interest year after year, especially in betting. Check out each of the following games for a detailed rundown of the main characteristics.
League of Legends
League of Legends was released in 2009 after being developed and published by Riot Games. In terms of category, League of Legends is a MOBA in which players can start gaming free, but will need to pay for micro-transactions in order to improve their characters.
The basic premise for League of Legends is that each human player is responsible for controlling a champion that comes with magical, physical abilities, and more. Players are then divided into two separate teams, with each match lasting anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes.
In a match, each team can be called upon to complete a set condition. Most commonly, this can be the destruction of an enemy base or item. As the games progress, players can level up their character and improve in the context of the game.
Following its 2009 release, League of Legends had already managed to gather up 32.5 million players by November 2011. As of January 2014, the game had gathered more than 67 million active monthly players. By June 2016, League of Legends had managed to give away an estimated $30 million [£22.5m] through professional eSports tournaments.
eSports games often have abbreviations, with Dota 2 standing for Defense of the Ancients. The original Dota was introduced as a free MOBA in 2003, having been rolled out of Warcraft III. The emergence of Dota brought the concept of MOBAs to the computer gaming world, but it would be years for them to really come to prominence.
Dota 2 was a much-needed step forward for the series, considering that League of Legends had emerged a couple of year prior. In 2013, MOBA fans were given an exciting new option in the shape of Dota 2, which was developed and published by the hugely successful Valve Corporation.
In action, Dota 2 places two teams into a digital battle arena. Five players appear on either team, with the aim being to use NPCs, items, magic, and more to outdo the other team. Neutral boss characters can also be thrown into the mix to provide further challenges for the team to overcome in trying to complete their objectives for winning the match.
Thus far, Dota 2 has proven to be an even more bankable MOBA than League of Legends. As of June 2016, Dota had generated more than $60 [£45.0m] million in prize money, which was more than double that of League of Legends. The Dota Pro Circuit is now filled with eSports tournaments to watch.
Counter Strike Global Offensive (CS:GO) has been a major hit in online gaming and eSports based on just how playable the game is. Initially, it was born out of the wildly successful Half-Life game series as a FPS simulator, but now CS:GO stands on its own legs.
Counter Strike has been the dominant FPS option in eSports for quite some time now, having first emerged in 2000. However, interest has continued to soar following the introduction of CS:GO as the latest series release in 2012.
CS:GO functions as a multiplayer FPS that asks for two groups of terrorists and counter-terrorists to compete against each other. FPS games often demand that players compete in death matches, but CS:GO provides diversity. A typical game can entail hostage taking and rescue or bomb placement and defusing.
The ESL Pro League is one of the most popular forms of competition for professional eSports players of CS:GO. Across the world, there are divisions for North America and Europe. Meanwhile, CS:GO tournaments have collectively awarded more than $42 million [£31.5m] worth of prize funds since 2013.
Heroes of the Storm
Blizzard Entertainment is one of the most active software developers and publishers in the business. From the many games produced by Blizzard, a number of those have been found within the eSports environment. At a glance, these have included StarCraft, Warcraft, and Overwatch.
In Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard has elected to create a MOBA that includes a selection of popular characters from the studio’s history. When the game plays out, Heroes of the Storm will have five players competing against another team of five.
Heroes of the Storm allows for players to select their role from assassin, warrior, specialist, support, or multi-class. More than 70 heroes are playable across those roles, with the game offering over a dozen maps. Heroes of the Storm was only introduced in 2015, so the game is still developing an audience.
At present, there is a global championship seeking to find the best Heroes of the Storm teams. The Gold Club World Championship is looking for players to compete in four global categories, which are comprised of North America, Europe, South Korea, and China. Prize money has already crept past the $11 million [£8.24m] mark since 2016.
StarCraft 2 is the sequel in a long-running series of RTS games from Blizzard Entertainment. In StarCraft 2, players are introduced to a military science fiction theme that was first introduced to the world in 2010.
The lore of StarCraft 2 introduces players into a world that sees the Terrans, Zerg, and Protoss doing battle with one another. Alongside standard combat, the races can use advanced technology and mental powers in trying to beat opponents..
StarCraft 2 commanded a huge global player base whenever it launched in 2010, with South Korea even creating dedicated TV channels to broadcasting the eSport. For a time, StarCraft 2 was the most popular eSport in the world.
In recent years, interest has waned in StarCraft 2. After giving away large sums initially, StarCraft 2 tournaments have struggled to surpass the $25 million [£18.7m] threshold from 2010 until November 2017. The emergence of new contenders have diminished interest in StarCraft 2.
The Rise of eSports Stars
Celebrity is a term that has transformed in recent years, what with YouTube stars and online streamers amassing huge following to rival those of actors and musicians.
In eSports, the most successful competitive players have to be playing Dota 2, given that it commands higher potential winnings than any other game. From recent years, these are some of the successful players as of 2017:
- Kuro Takhasomi: $3.44 million [£2.58m]
- Amer Barqawi: $3.02 million [£2.26m]
- Saahil Arora: $2.91 million [£2.18m]
- Ivan Ivanov: $2.78 million [£2.08m]
- Lasse Urpalainen: $2.78 million [£2.08m]
eSports stars are still some way short of getting near to the earnings build up from the leading lights of traditional sports or popular media, but the above list does show that there are millions to be won in the way of earnings.
At the same time, players have to do well and get their earnings while they can, as games like StarCraft 2 have fallen away in popularity. If players focus on one game, then their future are earnings are at risk if they cannot excel at another eSport.
eSports teams are followed closely by their fans, who monitor all of the results from their favourites players. The top teams have typically played hundreds of tournaments, but Team Liquid have participated in more than 1,100 to collectively earn the following:
- Team Liquid: $17.7 million [£13.3m]
- Evil Geniuses: $16.5 million [£12.4m]
- Newbee: $12.1 million [£9.07m]
- LGD Gaming: $10.1 million [£7.57m]
- Wings Gaming: $9.72 million [£7.28m]
Fans are now also supporting their teams on social media, with some teams commanding huge followings and even selling their own merchandise. Nevertheless, the above results show that earnings still matter in determining the most successful.
eSports games can rise and fall in terms of players and viewers. Although Dota 2 is currently dominating, a time could come when Heroes of the Storm rises up to claim its stake in the world of eSports betting.
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