If you’re one of the many gamers who’s seriously dreamt of earning top dollar for playing video games — then good news — because it is actually possible. In fact, research firm Newzoo suggests that the eSports world will generate an average of $1.79 billion by 2022. Plus, with millions of dollars in top-tier prizes, players are drawing to the competitive side of gaming like never before. However, coming close to the apex of gaming can take years — and even then it’s still a rocky road.
Whether you’re bound on viewing a tournament and nothing more, or just browsing for the next big trend — eSports has plenty to offer gamers of all backgrounds. And, in 2021, there truly are hundreds to choose from. So, in case you’re on the market for the next big thing — here are five of the best titles in eSports gaming to date. Are you ready to put your name down? The leaderboard awaits.
5. Call of Duty
Loitering with a tongue-in-cheek grin at the pinnacle of the war genre is no other than Call of Duty, the fifth place holder in the eSports world. Of course, we sort of expected the long-standing shooter to place somewhere in this list. However, even with the popularity spike since publishing the likes of Cold War, Warzone and the remastered campaign from Modern Warfare 2 — Call of Duty still struggles to make par with other rival genres. But we’ll get to that in a moment.
Last year, Activision launched Call of Duty League, which hosted 12 teams based over 4 countries — all of which had to compete for a prize pool of $6 million. With several games being streamed over the course of 2020, each unique team had to battle to stay in the ranks and dismantle the opposition piece by piece. And now, the championship is set to return this February for the second wave of elite matches and jam-packed prize pools.
As one of the highest-earning battle royale games of the last decade, it only makes sense that Fortnite should claim some level of reward from the eSports world. Although not proving to be the highest-ranking competitive game on the shelves — it definitely draws an almighty crowd to almost every global event and stream. Plus, with a prize pool that dips around the ten to fifteen million mark — it’s no wonder gamers are gearing up to master it. That being said, Fortnite accommodates around 350 million players, and therefore finding a place within the leaderboard can seem like a rather daunting feat.
Fortnite has been continuing to adapt and expand ever since its 2017 debut. With new and exciting downloadable content, seasons, weapons and characters being pushed out at a steady pace — players are forever lining up to sink their teeth into every new piece of the ever-evolving puzzle. Even in 2021, the iconic game still draws a very impressive roster of new players, and we’re honestly left to wonder who in the gaming community is yet to tread among the Fortnite waters. Anybody?
3. League of Legends
What once stood contently at the apex of eSports has since drifted to the bronze position on the podium. Though, we can’t deny that League of Legends still has an insane amount of loyalty from long-term followers of the game. Even after a decade of publishing material and hosting international tournaments, LoL still accommodates almost record-breaking figures when it comes to harvesting new players. In fact, on average, League of Legends still boasts 50 million daily players at a peak — and a monthly overall of 115 million.
With $75 million in combined prize pools since launch, League of Legends has become one of the highest-paying eSports games of all time. I mean, there’s no wonder people drift to pick up a copy and begin the quest to dominate the leaderboard. Only, as many seasoned players will say: it’s easy to learn — but impossible to master. But by all means — you are more than welcome to try.
2. Dota 2
Although only picking up a silver medal, Dota 2 is still arguably the best eSports game on the market. But that isn’t to say that Dota 2 isn’t capable of snatching back the crown in 2021. After all — it’s been to the apex of the category plenty of times before.
Admittedly, Dota 2 has dipped in player numbers quite drastically over the years. That being said, there is still an incredible following when it comes to eSports and its unbelievable prize pools that rotate around it. Try $8.2 million for 2020 alone. Or, you know — $229 million over the space of four years. So, it might have lost a few concurrent players in recent months — but we can’t fault the amount of money Valve Corporation still sinks into the game. That’s devotion at its very finest, alright.
1. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Okay, so you might not rake in multi-millions from bagging a major league win in CS:GO — but you’ll still make a serious fortune. Only, with 24 million players clawing for a chance at the big table, those stacks of pennies can seem like lightyears away from ever reaching our bank accounts. But, eh — one can dream.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has managed to climb the ranks in the eSports world for several years now. Ever since its steady launch in 2012, the MMO has been drawing in new blood by evolving the world and hosting international tournaments. And, when I say tournaments, I do not mean that lightly. In fact, CS:GO has hosted well over 5,000 in its eight-year streak. That, although not levelling with Dota 2, still amounts to a combined prize pool of $108 million. So yes — CS:GO is still very much a heavy hitter in the eSports sphere. Of course, the figures alone speak volumes for that.