Esports Terminology: Master the Language of Esports

Posted on March 6, 2023

Esports, this wild and sprawling industry, comes with its very own language. Accordingly, regardless of the particular esport, certain esports terminology is used universally and is essential to come to grips with. Bearing this in mind, we’ve gathered some of the most pertinent terms – feel free to test your knowledge below!

Esports Basic Terminology: Defining Esports and its Genres

Firstly, let’s understand what the term ‘esports’ means exactly. A common definition is that esports is a form of competition using video games.

Video games come in many shapes and sizes in different genres. Esports also has a number of genres, as listed below with examples:


Strategy is a diverse genre of game where competitors focus entirely on making intelligent moves at the right time to better their opponent, focusing moreso on mental capacity rather than mechanical skill. Also, strategy esports are usually played on an individual basis. This genre presents with the following sub-genres which field their own esports:

  • Real-time strategy (RTS) – eliminating turn-based system where opponents are constantly making moves in a chess-like manner to overthrow the enemy. Examples: StarCraft I and II, Age of Empires, Warcraft III, Clash of Clans.
  • Tower defence (Auto-Battling) – under the broad theme of tower defence, involving the placement of defence and offence units strategically, the past few years so a rise in popularity for ‘Auto-Battling’ with simulated strategic battles. Examples: Dota Underlords, Auto Chess, Teamfight Tactics.
  • Collectible Card Games (CCG) – based on slower, personal and turn-based competition, cards are used to bring an enemy’s health to zero. Examples: Legends of Runeterra, Hearthstone, Magic: The Gathering Arena.

First-Person Shooters (FPS)

While strategy might involve strategic decisions alone, first-person shooters bring an element of dynamic and visceral actions which involves both a mental and mechanical skill aspect. (For those unaware, first-person shooters implies that the angle of view is that of the eyesight of the shooter).

For the most part, these esports involve team action featuring objective-based game modes.

  • Arcade Shooters – involving a variety of game modes with quick-paced action and characterized by having multiple lives and placing an emphasis on mechanical skill over strategy. Examples: Call of Duty, Halo, Overwatch.
  • Arena Shooters – with barebones gameplay, this is the pinnacle of hardcore arcade shooters with few examples. Examples: Unreal Tournament, Quake.
  • Tactical Shooters – switching up the pace from arcade shooters, these shooters are much more methodical, all involving a bomb defusal format (or similar gameplay) where players have one life per round with alternating turns of attacking and defending. Examples: CS:GO, VALORANT, Rainbow Six Siege.

Battle Royale (BR)

As the most recent trend in the gaming industry, battle royale esports has also thrived since 2019. Involving the simple concept of outlasting and outplaying other individual players or teams on a shrinking piece of land by fragging and collecting items, there are many kinds out there ranging from first to third-person views. Examples: Fortnite, PUBG, Apex Legends, CoD Warzone, Free Fire.

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA)

Undeniably, some of the largest esports in the world are all in the genre of MOBA. Moreover, the depth of the gameplay is astonishing. Played through a bird’s eye view, players move their characters on a fixed map with lanes in teams. Using items, teamwork and mechanical skill, players have the ability to take down enemies with the ultimate goal of claiming space and taking down the enemies hub. With shifting game updates, item changes and new characters, the constant state of change makes these games very exciting.

Examples: Arena of Valor, Dota 2, Heroes of the Storm, League of Legends, SMITE.

Read also: MOBA Definition – What Makes a Game a MOBA?

Fighting Games (FGC)

Revolving around 1v1 action, individuals are pitted against one another in combat which takes place on a fixed stage. Combat involves movement and heated, fast-paced combat, either reducing the enemy’s health of knocking them off the stage
Examples: Brawlhalla, Injustice, Mortal Kombat, Soul Calibur, Tekken, Super Smash Bros.

Racing and Sports Simulation – this last category involves all esports which involve simulator-focused or arcade-focused sports inspired titles.

  • Competitive racing: F1 series, Forza Motorsport, Gran Turismo
  • Sports simulators: FIFA, Madden NFL, Rocket League

Esports Terminology – A Number of Platforms

Adding a layer of detail is the fact that any esport is played on a particular platform. Simply, there are three platforms for esports available currently:

  • PC (Personal Computer) – the most common type, using the performance power of personal computers, where competitors usually utilize a keyboard and mouse to input commands and compete. Examples: League of Legends, CS:GO, Hearthstone
  • Console (Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo) – certain esports are developed to be played on particular devices, such as home consoles. Usually, a wireless controller is used for competition here. Examples: Halo, Super Smash Bros, Mortal Kombat
  • Mobile – the newest trend in the industry, a number of mobile games have grown to attain esport status and are taking the world by storm, comparable to PC and Console esports. Examples: PUBG Mobile, Free Fire, Clash of Clans

Notably, there are rare esports titles which can be played on multiple platforms such as Fortnite across mobile, console and PC!

Learning Your Role – LoL and CS:GO

Now that you’ve figured out which esport genre, title and platform to bet on, it’s now essential to learn about two of the most popular esports and their corresponding esports roles.

Accordingly, in order to understand team-based competition, understanding the game at a basic level is key. To do so, we’ll be teaching you the ins and outs of two of two very different and yet, incredible successful esports – LoL and CS:GO.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Terminology

Released in 2012, one of the major reasons behind CS:GO’s success is its simplicity as a tactical shooter played on PC.

Every Competitive match involves two teams, named Terrorists (Attack) and Counter-Terrorists (Defence), who retain each side for half of the game at a time.

Once a round starts, the objective varies depending on which team you’re on:

  • Terrorists – plant and detonate the bomb OR eliminate the Counter-Terrorists within the time limit
  • Counter-Terrorists – prevent bomb detonation OR eliminate the Terrorists within the time using weapons and grenades to deal damage, there are a number of weapon classes available with different recoil patterns to master (movement when used to aim down sights):
  • Rifles – type of primary weapon, fairly expensive with high damage and recoil aimed at medium to long range. Example: M4A1, Krieg 552
  • Sniper rifles – primary weapon aimed for extreme range combat, either being bolt-action or fully-automatic – very expensive weapons. Example: AWP, Scout.
  • Submachine guns – type of primary weapon, cheap with fast rate of fire and low to moderate recail aimed for short range. Example: UMP45, MAC-10.
  • Heavy weaponry – variety of heavy machine guns and shotguns which are typically not primary options. Examples: XM1014, MAG-7, Negev.
  • Pistols – cheap secondary side-arms used in early rounds to build economy. Example: P2000, Glock-18
  • Grenades: variety of smokes, molotovs, flash bangs and more as tactical utility

Damaging and eliminating players through landing shots, rounds conclude within a few minutes with two available bomb sites to be attacked or defended. Across different CS:GO ranks, the level of strategy is insane especially considering that multiple maps are played at the highest level.

At the end of each round, players are rewarded according to their individual and team performance with in-game currency. This is used to purchase weaponry and adds a unique layer of complexity to competition.

Overall, the first team to win 16 rounds first, barring overtime, is the champion.

Now, within a 5-man CS:GO team, there are usually the following five roles:

  • Entry Fragger: the first person charging to clear space on the offence and defence, leading his team into unknown territory.
  • Support: Following up on the entry fragger, they usually avenge the entry fragger and support using different utility items.
  • In-Game Leader: Calling the shots and the strategy, an in-game leader decides which weapons to purchase and how to approach each round.
  • Lurker: Focusing on stealth and outwitting opponents, lurkers specialize in map knowledge and awareness, with the goal of captivating on enemy’s mistakes.
  • AWPer – responsible for wielding the most expensive and powerful weapon, the AWP, these snipers need to make the most of the weapon with incredible reflexes and aim.

Beyond the definitions, esports terminology also extends to simple terms used in broadcasts to simplify what’s going on – have a look at some examples:

  • Hold – when a team ‘holds’ they are locking down an area of the map such as a bomb site.
  • Anchor – a player who holds a bomb site and does not rotate from it.
  • Trade – when your teammate is eliminated and you eliminate the enemy who did so, you traded your teammate.
  • Retake – when having to regain space which you’ve already lost, such as a bomb site, you are retaking.
  • Rotate – moving from A bomb to B bomb site? This movement between bomb sites is known as rotation.
  • Economy Round – the team decides to save money and use only the cheapest weapons in the game with little utility.
  • Save – deciding to save money even though you could buy.
  • Force buy – buying with little money and risking having no money next round due to desperate need for a win.
  • Frag – an alternative word for elimination or kill.
  • Clutch – a situation where a lone player somehow wins in an unlikely situation.
  • Line-Up – utility placement which is practiced in order to land in precise areas of the map.
  • Rush – the strategy of sprinting to a bomb site immediately to surprise the enemy.

League of Legends Esports Terminology – Ruling the Rift

Moving on to League of Legends, this MOBA is a touch more complicated, played on the PC platform.

Unlike CS:GO, the two teams of five players compete on a parallel map, where one team occupies one-half for the entire match. Each of the ten players controls a character or “Champion” endowed with special abilities and signature moves.

Across a match, which is not-round based, the goal is to strengthen champions by collecting experience points, purchasing items using gold and pushing to the enemy’s base to destroy their “Nexus” at the opposite ends of the Summoner’s Rift map (shown below).

esports terminology league of legends summoner's rift

Image credit: Lol Fandom

Experience points are earned by eliminating enemies while gold is earned from taking down enemy minions (non-playable characters) or defensive structures. Notably, ‘turrets’ defend each of the three lanes of the map – Top, Middle and Bottom with a Jungle in-between.

Advancing into an enemy’s lane gives one the chance to destroy one of three ‘inhibitors’, allowing stronger allied minions to spawn. Other non-playable characters include monsters in the Jungle which can offer unique items which are game-changing.

While the concept is simple, the number of items, unique agents and combining agents make for an endless number of possibilities. There are currently over 140 champions to choose from, all of which fall under the following classes:

  • Assassin: mediocre auto-attack and defense, specializing in eliminating high priority targets quickly. Using some form of stealth and quick movement, one needs to time their move well. Examples: Talon, Kha’zix.
  • Fighter: as a mix of damager and tank, they use abilities to deal damage in support of a tank or a role thanks to powerful fight initiation abilities. Examples: Sett, Udyr.
  • Carry: champions with high auto-attack damage but low defense. Relying on their regular attack, their skills scale with stats which makes them immensely powerful in the late-game. These are primary targets for the enemy team, known as ADC (attack, damage, carry). Examples: Caitlyn, Jhin.
  • Mage: also known as APC (ability power carry), these deal powerful magic damage or support skills, with poor defence. Best used with allies and timed perfectly. Examples: Vex, Anivia.
  • Marksman: ranged champions whose power develops almost exclusively around basic attacks which range much further than any other class with low defence power and utility. Examples: Ezreal, Lucian.
  • Support: providing healing, buffs or debuffs, supports play a unique role in typically supporting an ADC and ensuring that they scale as quickly as possible. Example: Taric, Leona.
  • Tank: extremely high defense, health and crowd control, with poor attack power scaling in return. Soaking up damage, they need to be surrounded by allies to be effective. Examples: Shen, Amumu.

In a competitive setting, the responsibilities in a match boil down to making the most of these different classes in five roles:

  • Top/Tank: built to take a lot of damage, they help in being central to starting fights, finding space and targetting weaker enemy opponents such as Bot/ADC.
  • Jungler: shifting through the Jungle portion of the map between the three lanes they focus on reaping gold and experience points in the Summoner’s Rift. Also, has a huge role in rotations and being in the right place.
  • Mid/APC: giving out the most damage thanks to ranged attacks, the mid player is massively important as the middle lane controls rotations to all lanes.
  • Support: usually helping the Bot/ADC player, they rely on hit points and help in team fights by create and reducing space.
  • Bot/ADC: known as the Marksman, the role offers high physical damage with low health and plays in the bottom lane of the map.

See also: Best LoL Jungler Players

Just like in CS:GO, there are a number of terms worth being familiar with prior to tuning into a broadcast and possibly placing a bet:

  • Picks & Bans: Prior to every competitive game, the ten players are allowed to pick (protect from banning) or ban (remove from play) agents.
  • Meta: The current state of the game based on the most recent update dictating which items or agents are best.
  • Farming: The act of a champion eliminating multiple minions with the aim of gathering as much gold and experience as possible.
  • AoE: Abilities which affect a certain designated area.
  • Creep Score: A measure to assess how many enemy minions you’ve slayed as a measure of lane dominance
  • Average Combat Score (ACS): Varying from 100 to 400, it is a rating that factors in all aspects of a player’s performance.
  • Crowd Control: Abilities or spells that remove or diminish the control a target unit has over itself.
  • Damage Per Second: Describes how much damage a champion deals with over a period of time.
  • Gank: When one or more players from a team go to a lane with the intention to create a numbers advantage to eliminate or disrupt enemies
  • Fog of War (FoW): Sight on the map is blocked by a fog which may be uncovered as player progress to the enemy side.
  • Kite: Creating distance from your opponent while dealing as much damage as possible – unique movement to ADC gameplay.

Knowing the Terminology: Betting on Esports

Now that you’ve had a taste of esports games and esports terminology, you’re ready to place your first bets. Feel free to check out our very own esports betting guide to learn the ins and outs of placing bets successfully!

Stay tuned for more in-depth guides regarding the esports industry – there’s so much more to cover!

Gabriel Sciberras Avatar
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Gabriel Sciberras

Gabriel is an esports journalist and content writer, covering every related esports scene and topic under the sun, apart from plenty of experience in the realm of technology and gaming. When he's not covering international news, he's focused on the local Maltese scene.

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