What The Devil Are Esports? A Novice’s Guide To Modern Esports

Published: Aug 7, 2017 - Last Updated: Jan 18, 2023

Writing about esports and being immersed in that world, it is easy to assume everybody knows the ins and outs. I presume everyone gets that LoL doesn’t mean “laugh out loud” and that Dota 2 isn’t what a numerically obsessed South African would call his second female offspring.

But we shouldn’t forget new people are attracted to esports all the time: to play themselves, as a spectator, or even as a punter seeking another market.

So if you are a novice esports enthusiast and still don’t know your CS:GO from your SCII, this is the article for you.

What are esports?

Esports are computer games that allow multiple players to face off in some form of competitive game environment. There are different types of games that qualify as esports, although most PC or console games playable online against other players or teams would qualify by this broad definition.

However, at the highest level of esports (which is what we are predominantly interested in) there are a rather small number of games that attract players and teams to tournaments.

Like any other sport, you can find the level of esports that’s a pick-up game in the park, but remember that’s a far cry from the World Cup or NBA Finals.

What are the most popular esports?

Although almost any console game could be an esport, there are relatively few games that attract interest from top esports players.

That’s not to say games like Call of Duty or FIFA Soccer do not attract their own tournaments, but they are simply not as popular for esports as the top titles:

Can I play esports?

Absolutely yes. Dota 2 is free from Steam, and CS:GO has an initial cost of approximately £12.99 in the UK.

League of Legends is technically free, but in order to progress in the game you may need to purchase some items. In 2014, for example, League of Legends generated $1 billion in micro-transactions, which is players exchanging real cash for items in the game.

StarCraft II needs to be purchased. The game is now available in the UK for between £8 and £30 depending on the version.

Once you have purchased or downloaded the game, you can log in and start to learn how to play before testing your skills online against other players. It’ll be a while before you’re ready for any kind of big time.

Are esports popular?

Yes, esports are extremely popular, especially in Asia. In South Korea, top esports players are treated like music or sports stars. Big esports events are shown live on television and streamed online via platforms like Twitch.

However, the esports industry is growing beyond Asia into North America, Europe, Oceania, South America, and all other parts of the globe. As more people play, more people watch and more people bet on the outcome. The industry is currenly undergoing huge and sustained growth.

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Many top esports tournaments are now taking place in huge stadiums, and events sell out weeks beforehand.

What are the big-money esports tournaments?

At the highest level, companies like Valve, Steam, RedBull, ASUS, and Monster Energy sponsor events. They offer prizes in the hundreds of thousands, and even millions, of dollars.

At this level, elite players are effectively employed full time for their teams, playing in tournaments around the world each day and living something of a jetset lifestyle in many cases.

With that privilege comes responsibility, and esports teams are notoriously fickle in their roster cuts. It is a cutthroat business at the highest level, but the rewards for the top players can be huge.

Ian John

Since: August 10, 2015

Ian is a regular contributor to EsportsBets. Ian is well-versed in the world of esports betting and casino gaming and has written extensively on the online gambling industry. Ian brings fresh insight into all facets of gaming.

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