Dota 2 and League of Legends are the clear leaders in genre of Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games. Counter Strike: Global Offensive is the king of the first-person shooters. StarCraft II is the top choice for individual strategists.
Given the sheer wealth of tournaments available for these games each week and their popularity with gamers of all abilities, they’re the most prestigious and iconic titles in the esports gaming industry at present.
However, every year, hundreds of different games are released on both consoles and the PC and Mac platforms. Many can now be played online against other players. Indeed, any modern game worth its salt will have at least some online multiplayer element.
In this article, we’re going to look at some second-tier esports games and some forthcoming titles that could become esports classics in the future.
Brood War – This isn’t a standalone game technically; it’s an expansion pack for StarCraft II. Most of the major StarCraft II events are run using a different expansion pack, Legacy of the Void, but there are still a number of esports gamers who prefer this patch. A thriving gaming community has sprung up around it.
Rocket League – One of the newest additions to the esports scene is Psyonix Rocket League. First released on PC and PlayStation 4 in July 2015, this is a soccer-style game which, instead of using players to move the ball, uses a number of different vehicles. They can be driven around the arena and crashed into the ball to move it, block it, tackle an opponent, and more. Critically acclaimed on release, there are now ESL and Major League Gaming events for Rocket League. The developer hosts its own Rocket League Championship Series.
Hearthstone – Hearthstone is a card-based game developed by Blizzard. It allows two players to compete using a deck of 30 cards, a hero, and a unique power. The aim is to cast spells or summon minions to reduce an opponent’s health to zero. On the way, players earn gold and other prizes, which can be used to buy more packs of cards.
Overwatch – Another Blizzard title is this popular first-person shooter, which was released on PS4, Xbox1, and Microsoft Windows in May 2016. The game boasts 25 characters players can select as their heroes. Each have its own skills, weaknesses, and abilities. They are broadly split into four categories: Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support. Players work as a team to complete tasks against opponents. Since its release, Overwatch has become a recognized esport in key tournaments and pro leagues.
Heroes of the Storm – This Blizzard game was released in June 2015. It’s a MOBA with a twist. In Heroes of the Storm, players can select from a number of heroes from each of Blizzard’s main esports franchises: Warcraft, Diablo, Starcraft, The Lost Vikings, and Overwatch. The appeal of this game is that players can pit one hero against another from a completely different context.
FIFA Soccer – The famous football game from EA Sports has been a popular esport for many a year. Still, there is not the same level of sponsorship or number of tournaments available for FIFA as for other games. There is a big FIFA World Cup event held each year, which attracts players with a sizable prize fund of more than $1 million.
Call of Duty – This series also enjoys a somewhat muted esports presence despite being a hugely popular console game. That said, like FIFA, there are one or two big events each year that attract esports gamers from all over the world. Again, we’re talking prize pools of about $1 million.
What are the future’s esports games?
Esports at the highest level evolves constantly. While some games have stood the test of time, new games are released every year with the potential to become massive esports games. Let’s look at two titles with that kind of promise.
Star Wars Battlefront 2 – The original Battlefront on PS4 was a multi-player game set upon iconic Star Wars battlefields. Players could be foot soldiers or pilots. This new game not only adds a single-player quest format but also new graphics, maps, and vehicles. If the original Battlefront was a little too one dimensional to become a real esports legend, Battlefront 2 seems to have all the right ingredients.
Call of Duty WWII – First-person shooters like Rainbow Six, Battlefield, and Call Of Duty enjoy huge popularity on consoles. All of these games enjoy decent esports offering, though not at the level of some top games. Call of Duty WWII could change that by offering back-to-basics gameplay and the familiar WWII setting. The level of detail and realism in this game could well make it one of the biggest esports of 2018.