If your parents have ever said that you spend too much time playing video games, they are either a) out of touch or b) blind.
This view may seem too harsh, but there is some truth to it. Esports is the competitive gaming side of the video game industry. It has huge audiences, huge cash pots, and sponsorships that let top players turn their hobbies into careers. In fact, Newzoo, a research company, says that esports will bring in $1.79 billion per year by 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which is still going on, is likely to have an effect on that amount. Even though a lot of esports games have strong online parts, the big tournaments are usually held in big places that aren’t good for social distance. For example, the 2019 Fortnite World Cup was held for the first time at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City, where close to 20,000 people watched. Epic Games, the company that makes Fortnite, had to cancel the 2020 event, and the company has no plans for in-person tournaments in 2021. In a similar way, Valve has put off The International for Dota 2 for an undetermined amount of time.
Esports include both well-known and less-known games from a wide range of genres. You like action games? In Counter-Strike: Global: Offensive, you can shoot a player in the head. Are you in the mood for an epic battle royale? You’re all set with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. You like sports? The NBA and Take-Two Interactive, the company that makes the very popular NBA 2K video game series, joined forces to make the NBA 2K eLeague. In the world of esports, everyone can find a video game and a scene for it.
Perhaps there are too many options. There are so many competitive, multiplayer video games on the market that it can be intimidating to start playing or just to watch professional video gaming. This list of the best esports games, on the other hand, is meant to gently steer you in the right direction. After all, you don’t need to play every game that’s trying to get that sweet esports money. Also, there are a lot of them.
This guide has a number of games that are good for esports that have been reviewed by PCMag’s staff and come highly recommended. In fact, many of the games we recommend can also be found in our list of the best PC games, but we also throw console gamers a bone or two.
For a game to be considered for this guide, all its publisher has to do is say that it is good for tournaments. We love a lot of the smaller, community-based projects, like the amazing Tecmo Super Bowl community, but we had to set a limit or almost every competitive game would be considered worthy.
That’s the end of it. If a popular esports game isn’t on this list, it’s because we haven’t reviewed it yet or we didn’t give it a high enough score. What you’ll find below, though, are some of the best esports games that will be played by both amateurs and pros in 2021 and probably after that as well. Start digging. The most important thing is to have fun.
After making two great Titanfall games that didn’t get much attention, developer Respawn finally got the success it always deserved with the battle royale shooter Apex Legends.
Apex Legends takes place in the same world as Titanfall, but instead of controlling big robots, you control agile mercenaries. These colourful characters have many different skills, which is a good thing. As Wraith, you can, for example, move between dimensions. As Mirage, you can hide yourself and make holograms. Also, smart tools for communicating keep teams working together.
The huge momentum of Apex Legends keeps going thanks to its ongoing tournaments. Check out the upcoming events’ schedules to see the very large prize pools.
Release Year – 2013
Total Prize Money Awarded – $224.7 million
Noteworthy Tournaments – The International
Top Players – Johan Sundstein, Jesse Vainikka, Anathan Pham
Valve Corporation made Dota 2, which is a popular multiplayer battle arena video game. It is the follow-up to the game Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars. North America and Europe are where most people like to buy it.
Teams of five people usually play the same game, with each person defending their own part of a map. One team wins by destroying a building in the other team’s base called “Ancient.”
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Release Year – 2012
Total Prize Money Awarded – $96.5 million
Noteworthy Tournaments – World Electronic Sports Games (WESG), ELEAGUE
Top Players – Andreas Højsleth, Peter Rasmussen, Nicolai Reedtz
This is another popular esports game that Valve Corporation and Hidden Path Entertainment worked on together. It is the fourth game in the Counter-Strike series and is a first-person shooter.
This game is mostly played by terrorists and people who try to stop them. They take people hostage and set up a bomb. The counter-terrorists need to save the hostages and stop the bomb from going off.
Release Year – 2017
Total Prize Money Awarded – $89.1 million
Noteworthy Tournaments – Fortnite World Cup, Fortnite Fall Skirmish Series, Fortnite Summer Skirmish Series
Top Players – Kyle Giersdorf, Harrison Chang, David Wang
Fortnite is a popular online game with multiple players that was made by Epic Games. Even though it has three different ways to play, it is still only one game. Here’s what you need to know about each game mode:
Save the World has up to four players fighting zombie-like creatures to protect themselves and other survivors.
Battle Royale is a type of game where players compete against each other. Up to 100 players fight to be the last one standing. It can also be done with a group.
Creative: This is the sandbox mode, in which players can change the game world in any way they want.
League of Legends
Release Year – 2009
Total Prize Money Awarded – $75.5 million
Noteworthy Tournaments – LoL World Championship
Top Players – Sang Hyeok Lee, Ho Seong Lee, Jun Sik Bae
Riot Games made this real-time strategy action game for more than one player. It has a lot of fans in Asia.
It is played by two teams of 3 or 5 players each, and the way it is played is a little bit like Dota 2. In this game, like in Dota 2, a team wins by destroying a “Nexus” structure in the other team’s base.