There are roughly five critical components of esports games. Anyone can play a game that's considered an "esport" gam
For anyone new to the gaming and esports scenes, the distinction between the two can be a little confusing. After all, much of the traditional sports narrative focuses on practice and competition (even when just having fun). In video games, though, there is a large spectrum of play, from non-competitive, single-player experiences to professional esports teams winning millions at global competitions.
What Is The Difference Between Esports and Gaming?
Anyone can play a game that's considered an "esport" game. For example, Riot Games makes several esports options, like League of Legends, Teamfight Tactics, or Valorant. They also have Legends of Runeterra, though, which would be hard to classify as an esport, despite being made by the same esports-focused team. Why is that?
Well, there are roughly five critical components of esports games.
One And Two: Player Versus Player, and Creating Esports Teams
The first two are somewhat intertwined. One, these games are multiplayer experiences, and two, they pit players against each other to achieve a particular goal. These criteria need to go together because, for example, technically, players can enjoy multiplayer Stardew Valley. However, the game is so wholesome that there's little competition to really make a sporting event out of it (unless you and your friends get really amped up during the ice fishing event). Similarly, Diablo 3 and World of Warcraft can be Co-Op, but it's more for you and your friends to come together and accomplish a goal against the demon AI, not fight each other. And even when you can, it's not some big spectacle or the core gameplay; it's more like a friend versus friend arm wrestling match but online.
Three: Prizes and Champions
The third component that separates gamers from professional teams is the fact that pros typically play esports in a tournament setting with prizes and titles on the line. Esports have things like the League of Legends World Championships, the DOTA 2 Invitational, and other events that prove the legitimacy of an esport and its place in the esports industry. Competitive gaming is a rewarding part of the esports industry, and esports events tend to be mega productions that can change forever the competitive scene. In the same sense, an esports league lasts a long time, and their data and esports teams are shown in a myriad of websites.
Four: Long-Term Goals
Fourthly, longevity is vital for esports. Even if a game is fun, competitive, and has an audience, it can't just be a flavor of the week game. There needs to be a growing fan base, players practicing until they reach excellence, and new ways to spice up the game. This often means that a game needs a reasonable price tag (or a free one), frequent patch updates, and a ranking system that players invest in. There's a reason that Among Us or Golf With Friends have yet to become big esports when their updates can be few and far between, and no one can "rank up to gold".
Five: Know Your Audience
The fifth and final most crucial part of an esport is that people want to watch people compete. A great example of this distinction is Fortnite vs. Fall Guys. Both are multiplayer battle royale games, but there isn't a real esports scene for Fall Guys (despite having the same competitive, multiplayer components). So, without the audience, Fall Guys isn't really an esport. The esports competition is simply different than just being an online game.
How Do You Play Esports and Join Competitive Gaming?
Playing esports on a lower level is easy. All you have to do is buy or download an esport game and get to playing.
However, if you want to get more serious about competitive gaming, you have to join actual esports tournaments. For some games, all that means is looking into local gaming tournaments, signing up, and showing up to show off your skills.
When you get involved in local tournaments, you can get your feet wet can try out the esport in more serious settings. Also, joining an esports team (whether local, regional, or national) can do a lot towards getting you deeper into your preferred esports scene. Finally, even just volunteering at your next local tournament can do a lot of work towards getting you involved in your esport.
But if you want to join major league gaming, you have to practice harder, rank up, and learn from real professionals to do better on the competitive scene. Nevertheless, it's the best way to get yourself deeper into the esports world; all you need is dedication, connections, and getting out there.
The Popularity of Esports
Esports are popular for a perfect cocktail of reasons:
- Video games are popular among the general populace.
- Esports tournaments have always been reasonably accessible because most of their games are online, making the transition to streaming seamlessly.
- The genres are diverse enough that almost any gaming fan can find something that interests them.
- Games themselves are so accessible that more gamers actually play the esport they love than the average sports fan.
All of these factors together make fans more likely to involve themselves in their game's community. It's a perfect storm that is turning into a fast-growing industry worth millions of dollars.
Like any traditional sports association, the various esports associations help organize all these events, professional players, and teams. In addition, they make sure that the esports competitions and prize money are regulated and above board, helping give their sport a positive public image. Esports organizations are clean-cut and organized because esports associations help set the standard. With the very global world of esports, they are vital in making sure everything goes smoothly.
While most associations are for professional competitions, the scene spreads wide enough to create them for college/high school teams. The esports scene is even looking into adding video gaming to the Olympics, but the concern about gaming violence is fostering pushback from Olympics officials. So, in place of active Olympics recognition, esports professionals hold the Video Game Olympics every year, though they don't quite get the same fanfare.
6 Most Popular Esports Games
Whether you want to get involved in esports or are simply interested in the scene, it's good to know where the top games stand. From fighting games to MOBAs, here are the games everyone is looking at:
A MOBA released in 2013, DOTA 2 is easily one of the most influential games of the esports world. After all, it's one of the most dazzling and expensive esports. DOTA 2 is well-known for its dedicated fans and its colossal competition prizes, with their yearly championships offering $40 million in awards and rising. The game also boasts the ten best-paid players in all esports (based on competition winnings alone).
League of Legends
Created by Riot Games, League of Legends is a constantly evolving MOBA with bi-weekly patches that help keep the game fresh for its players. This system is clearly working because it's one of the most popular esports with millions of views each professional tournament.
They set the esports record with 60 million people watching the 2018 Mid-Season Invitational and will likely topple that record in the future. Additionally, dozens of national/regional leagues across the globe have fantastic, masterful players on their teams.
The Counter-Strike series began in 2000, making it one of the most classic FPS esports. Its current iteration, CSGO, was released in 2012. Most esports players who've perfected the quick-scope and have professional-level aim started here and either stayed to become the league's heroes or went to other FPS games to flex their skills there.
Fortnite: Battle Royale
A newer game compared to its top-spot contemporaries, Fortnite took the world by storm by turning the standard battle royale game mode into their own brand of fun, colorful, all-ages-friendly experience. Fortnite attracts sniping pros and young children alike, which is why its rise has been so intense, and it kept going from there, having over 125 million players within its first year. What Fortnite has accomplished has made them an industry powerhouse.
Sometimes, traditional sports and esports meet to create something beloved by both communities. FIFA simulates your own pro soccer match where you pass the ball back and forth from each player, made from your fantasy roster of soccer pros.
This is the fastest-selling sports game, with over 3.2 million games sold in its first week of release. It's wildly popular with fans and helped fuel the concept and strength of ranked sports video games.
Made by Blizzard Activision, Overwatch has always been a fast-paced team game with bright colors and unique characters with lore for days and a steady fan base. They've had struggles in public popularity at times, but they've always been game-changing with their non-esports partnerships. They made some of the first streaming exclusivity deals for their professional tournaments; they have an American team (Philadelphia Fusion) supported by the NHL Philadelphia Flyers, who are even building their Overwatch team an esports arena (Fusion Arena).
While esports are popular and beloved by many of its fans, the scene isn't all sunshine and rainbows.
There are many health concerns among professional players and video game streamers about how long they spend in front of computers, which has led to people struggling with muscle and joint problems. Scientists also have done studies that resulted in a correlation between excessive computer activity and metabolic disorders.
Also, video game addiction has always been a concern, with the easy dopamine hit people get from playing satisfying games. While it can happen with anything thrilling or mood-altering, video games have become so readily available and widespread that some people have struggled (though, likely not as many as the media likes to raise concerns).
And, like any sport, there are always concerns about performance-enhancing drugs. But, unlike traditional sports, the problem isn't steroids. Instead, it's the likes of Ritalin, Adderall, and Vyvanse. Some pro gamers use these and energy-boosting drinks to make themselves hyper-alert, which can negatively affect their health. Unfortunately, it's gotten increasingly rampant, to the point that the leaders of the Electronic Sports League have mandated that players can be expelled from games if found using substances.
Future of Esports
Many members of mainstream society still see esports as some fringe entertainment, but as time goes on, esports only become more popular and expansive. The immediate future of esports will likely see a large boom of esports selling their media rights to different online or network streaming services, growing the video game empire.
There is also a future for esports as a national sport across several countries. South Korea sees its esports professionals as superstars. The in-person CSGO ESL tournament in Cologne attracts 10k+ people each year. League of Legends events have 50+ million viewers on their largest events. Likely, this kind of popularity will only spread the more the esports industry grows, and as its worth is now in the billions, there's nowhere to go but up.
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