The eSports industry has grown into a massive industry. At the rate of its current growth, it is expected to surpass 1 Billion dollars in revenue in 2021, making it a billion-dollar industry. Going are the days of people underestimating video gaming as a legitimate career pursuit. If you’re passionate enough about one of the top esports games, you can hope to make it big.
The eSports industry is an umbrella term referring to hundreds of thousands of games that you can play competitively. Dedicated game development companies and amateur developers are dropping new games every and then. But there’s no doubt that a few top esports games are leading the market. These are some of the most played games that you need to know of if you hope to become a gamer. Many of these games have competitive regional and global leagues that have massive prize pool money to attract teams and players from all over.
15 Most Popular Esports Games 2021
Even if you aren’t a gamer, you have probably heard of Dota 2. DOTA is quite literally an acronym for the objective of the game, Defence Of The Ancients. 2 teams of five compete to destroy the other’s ancient, a structure tucked into each side’s base while defending their own. The game was originally a game mod for world of warcraft 3.
Released by massive Valve Corporation that also released the widely popular Half-life series, the game is also free to play. You don’t need money to get into the game, nor do you need money to reach up the ranks. It’s this commitment to keeping the game from becoming pay to win that makes Dota 2 stand out.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike is another household name that anyone born after 1990 HAS to have heard of. Counter-Strike Global Offensive, or CS GO for short, is a more advanced version of the original game released in 2012 (12 years after the original game). Unlike Dota 2’s aerial view, Counter-Strike Global Offensive has a much more traditional first-person shooter perspective.
This is another team play game where there are two sides, five people each. You could be part of one of the teams: terrorists and counter-terrorists. The former try to plant a bomb on one of the sites while the latter has to diffuse it in time to win the game. Alternatively, if the terrorists kill all the counter-terrorist players, they win. However, the counter-terrorists have to not only kill the terrorists but also diffuse the bomb to win.
Fortnite, unlike Dota and CS GO, is a fresh addition to the Esports industry as it entered the scene in 2017 through Epic Games. But when we say fresh, in no way do we mean it’s not popular. This first-person shooter game quickly rose to popularity like a viral video -and social media played its part in that.
Fortnite, like CS GO, is also a first-person shooter game, but that’s about all the similarity there is. Both in gameplay and visuals, Fortnite distinguishes itself from most shooter games. The visuals are more cartoonish instead of aiming to be realistic. This fresh take is part of the appeal of the game. The gameplay as well isn’t exactly team player. While you can tag along with your friends, the classic game is a 100 person battle royale. As the map shrinks and players fall, you have to come out on top as the only survivor.
League of Legends
League of Legends closely resembles Dota 2’s gameplay: It’s a 5v5 team game where the main objective is to get to the enemy team’s Nexus (Ancient equivalent of Dota) before they get to yours. The similarities naturally create a divide between dedicated fan bases of each game. As both a League and Dota player, I enjoy both the games a lot.
This Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) style game was launched in 2009 by Riot Games. League topped the most played game chart in 2020 with over 100 million players. The game has become a global franchise with a massive international following.
One of the main reasons why this game is so popular is the fact that it’s constantly improving and releasing patches. These help players to always boost their champions and perform at their best. For example, with the help of ongoing Graves probuilds, players have recorded 13 out of 21 matches. This is a 61.9% win rate. Such probuilds provide the most effective strategies, tips, and runes for all the users.
StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void might not fit in with the MOBA or first-person shooter game styles that dominate this list, but its die-hard fans have made it deserving of a spot among the top esports games.
This strategy game is undoubtedly one of the most intricate and interesting military strategy games of all time.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)
What League of legends is to Dota 2, PUBG is to Fortnite. PUBG, also known as PlayersUnknown’s battleground, is another battle Royale formatted game. While the two share many similarities, PUBG has its ways of setting itself apart. With rank features and seasonal updates, PUBG has developed a rather loyal fanbase.
PUBG really entered the top-tiered gaming circle in 2020 when its annual international grand prize exceeded a mindblowing 2 million dollars.
Overwatch, along with Fortnite and Valorant, is one of those new-era first-person shooters that take a cartoony, youthful, and fun approach to gunfire games. Overwatch’s gameplay can be compared most with the gameplay of Team Fortress 2, one of the many Valve success stories. However, it also borrows from other MOBA video games to bring a truly unique twist.
You can choose from many different characters that have a unique playstyle. Whether it is experimenting with many and getting a grip on a range of different heroes or mastering a handful of your favorites, there’s always some new goal to aim for in Overwatch. It’s this unending progression that has enabled Overwatch to gather a massive fanbase of its own.
Hearthstone is one of the few games on our list that have card game gameplay. But that is what makes Hearthstone so unique and special to its very loyal fanbase. This game might not be for people who are big on games where more is happening on screen, but if you are a strategy nerd like me, you’ll love it.
The game is played by two players who each have 30 cards and a hero. The objective is simple, use your brain to outplay your opponent and destroy their cards. Eventually, you beat their hero. Hearthstone, like Dota 2, is derived from the warcraft franchise, specifically World of Warcraft. It’s also one of Blizzard Studio’s biggest hits.
Heroes of the Storm
While the gameplay of Heroes of the Storm may seem a lot like MOBA games such as Dota and League of legend, it’s technically not a MOBA (or so the developers at Blizzard studio insist). The game comprises two teams with five players each who are pitted against each other. There is a much greater variety in terms of what objectives need to be met to win the game, but you can still choose from a number of different characters.
Arena of Valor
While there are MOBA games like Dota 2 and League of legends that are dominating the genre of MOBA and the Esports industry in general, Arena of Valor is a pretty solid game. As someone who is an avid fan of the MOBA gameplay, Arena of Valor does many things correctly. It has multiple modes, a wide range of characters, and an amazing community of players. Fun fact, Arena of Valor used to be called Strike of kings. It was originally developed by a smaller studio called TiMi Studios but was then picked up by the massive Tencent games.
Before there was the highly rendered and competitive CS GO, there used to be the Original Counter-Strike 1.6 version. Counter-Strike 1.6 might not be played in its original form today as much as it was before, but the gameplay certainly has a nostalgic feel for many.
Released originally as a Half-life variant by Valve, the developers quickly realized its potential as a standalone game. Counter-Strike, along with Grand Theft Auto 5 and the Prince of Persia series, was what nurtured my inner gamer as a child.
Rainbow Six Siege
Rainbow Six Siege is among the most amazing things to come out of the bomb-diffusion, team play, first-person shooter game genre of the Esports industry. With a special emphasis on playing as a team, fulfilling individual roles, and deconstructing the environment, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege deserves a spot on the top esports games list.
Rainbow Six Siege is also a success story for the Esports events industry. It covers seven regions under its Pro League, with a regional league of the seven individual regions. Its tournaments are one of the most anticipated and prized in the industry, with the last big tournament being the Six invitational of 2020. SpaceGaming took home a staggering 1 million dollars from a prize pool of 3 million dollars.
Rocket League is a one-of-a-kind game that combines two of my favorite things: cars and soccer. It’s basically football the way football would be played in the Cars movie. The cartoony design and concept clearly took off among gamers as the prize pool for the Rocket League championship last stood at $350,000.
SMITE was released in 2014 by the developers at Hi-Rez Studios. The game features characters that represent gods and goddesses. While the game developers have come up with quite a few exciting game modes, the one that the players seem to like the most is “Conquest.” In this game mode, you play in one of two teams of five.
StarCraft: Brood War
Dating back to 1998, StarCraft: Brood War is a classic that many today might not be familiar with. The game was developed by both Blizzard and Saffire studios. It was released as an extension pack for the StarCraft franchise, adding on new maps, map tilesets, and new campaigns.
What are the Biggest eSports of 2021?
Ever since 2017, eSports has become a big deal. From a casual, primarily entertainment industry, it has risen to become an actual sport. People find careers as players and coaches, making money off of local, regional, and even international tournaments. From Esports, many big players have even gained celebrity statuses such as Sumail and NoTail from the Dota 2 realm and Ninja and Dr. Lupo from Fortnite.
As the industry continues on its upward trajectory of revenue and popularity into 2021, more games are being put out and taking the world by storm. So what are some of the biggest names to look out for? What are the biggest Esports of 2021?
Taking everything into account, including factors like prize pools, revenue, players, and a number of tournaments, some of the biggest Esports of 2021 are the following:
- Dota 2: The MOBA game that has one of the most-watched tournaments, especially the annual TI (The International)
- CS GO: The first-person shooter game with over 180 tournaments and a huge number of players
- PUBG: The Battle royal style game that took the world by storm
- Call of Duty: Black Ops: without a doubt among the biggest hits from the classic, unparalleled global Call of Duty franchise.
- Fortnite: The 2017 viral phenomenon that continues to attract players with its updates and celebrity attention
- Valorant: Released in June 2020 after a beta release earlier in April 2020, Valorant is another prodigy of the Esports industry.
What are the Top Most Watched eSports Events of 2021 so far?
In my opinion, the key factor in launching Esports from its undermined status of past time video games to a growing billion-dollar global industry was the Esports events. While competitive gaming has been around for aegis, dating back to the arcade games of the 80s, the feel of a league or a season is one of a kind.
If you think about normal sports games like cricket, soccer, and football, these are games that collectivize people on a national level. People go out to stadiums for matches, buy the merchandise for their favorite teams, and religiously support their favorite celebrity players on the internet. eSport events have launched the industry into similar global acclaim.
So what are the most-watched Esport events this year that you should be following as a gamer? Based on the prize pools and viewership, here’s a list of the most-watched and anticipated esports events this year:
1. MPL ID Season 7 (April)
This regional League peaked the viewership charts at number one with a total viewership of 1,475,831. This Mobile League: Bang bang Indonesia series was wildly popular in April among fans, beating viewerships for tournaments of big game names like League of Legends and Dota 2.
2. FreeFire League LatinoAmerica Opening 2021
FreeFireLeague Latinoamerica narrowly beat MPL ID Season 7 for FreeFire in March. The first round for this event on 21st March led the charts that month with 1,460,906 viewers.
3. MPL ID Season 7 (March)
In March of 2021, MPL ID Season 7 had one of the biggest matches this year, which brought in 1,185,982 fans. Teams RRQ and EROS.LGN went head to head in this match.
4. LEC Spring 2021
Coming in second was the League of Legends is the League European Championship that charted number two for April of 2021, with a peak viewership of 831,198. The event’s peak match happened on 11th April between Rogue and MAD.
5. LCK Spring 2021
Giving another spot on this list to the League of legend, the LCK, League Championship Korea, reeled in a whopping 674,484 viewers for the match between T1 and Gen G. The match happened on the 4rth of April.
Esports has rapidly grown into a billion-dollar industry and continues to reel in out worldly numbers. Whether it’s the die-hard fanbase, rising celebrity players, million-dollar prize pools, or viral video games, it’s a great time for gamers. Going into 2021, the industry has kept on track with its upwards trajectory.
As a Gamer myself, I think everyone needs to know about the top esports games out there. But be on the lookout; you never know when a new game enters the scene and rises to the top!