The competitive gaming scene has soared in popularity over the past five years and it now has more than 400 million fans across the globe. They are attracted by the opportunity to see the world’s finest gamers lock horns in exhilarating battles as they bid for fame and fortune.
Esports is a broad and varied scene, encapsulating first-person shooters, battle royale titles, battle arenas, card games, sports titles, fighting games and more. These are the five most intense esports that have earned a devoted follow thanks to the thrilling nature of their gameplay:
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Nothing quite matches the thrill of watching a legendary CS:GO pro ace an entire team in a clutch moment of a major tournament. This outrageously popular first-person shooter from Valve sees two teams of five battle it out on various maps. The objective is to either plant a bomb or rescue hostages, or prevent these outcomes from happening, while killing the opposing team along the way. It makes for some magnificently intense plays.
You might see one lone player clinging to survival after all his teammates have been gunned down. The last man standing has to kill all of his rivals or his team will be going home, and you can almost feel the hairs on your arms stand to attention as he reels off a series of bold kills to vanquish all his rivals, while the announcer becomes increasingly berserk and a packed stadium roars with delight. It is spine-tingling stuff and that is why esports are on course to become more popular than traditional sports.
This madcap title from Psyonix splices arcade soccer with turbo-powered cars to create a surprisingly thrilling gaming experience. Vehicular mayhem ensues, as players choose from a variety of high-flying vehicles equipped with giant rocket boosters to score amazing aerial goals and pull off game-changing saves. Yet there is also a high skill ceiling to this game, which is blessed with fluid, physics-driven competition, and that has seen a thriving professional scene spring up around it.
A total of 289 tournaments thus far have carried almost $5 million in prize money and Rocket League retains a devoted group of fans. Dazzling plays are commonplace, and it also yields many nail-biting moments. For instance, the 2018 World Championship Grand Final between Dignitas and NRG was tied at 2-2 with just eight seconds remaining. Dignitas then took the lead. A Rocket League does not end until the ball touches the ground, and fans were flabbergasted as NRG charged up the pitch and kept the ball in the air for an unprecedented 13 seconds with an absurd juggling act, before equalizing in the most dramatic fashion imaginable, forcing overtime. Dignitas went on to win a second championship, but fans still rave about that remarkable effort from NRG.
This multiplayer online battle arena title carries the largest prize pools in the world of esports thanks to Valve’s compendium model. The International 2018 had prize money of $25.5 million and players can take home truly life-changing sums by succeeding, making the stakes extremely high and ensuring extremely intense action. It also encourages boldness and invention, displayed in abundance when Na’Vi star Dendi turned the tide against TongFu with a series of dazzling fountain hooks in 2013.
One of the greatest moments in Dota 2 history saw UNiVeRsE perform a $6 million Echo Slam to seize victory from the jaws of defeat for his team, Evil Geniuses. It wiped out four players in one go and sent the commentators into an absolute frenzy.
The International is full of similarly dazzling moments of individual brilliance that have helped keep Dota at the very front of the esports watch list. Still one of the most streamed and searched for esports, a huge selection of esports betting markets have emerged for players looking to back their favourite teams and players. Kaka’s clutch save for Newbee at The International 2017 and Miracle’s clutch $10 million Omnislash to secure the title are perfect examples, as is Ceb’s Axe Call in Game Four of the Grand Finals at The International 2018.
Dota 2 is so popular because it has such phenomenal depth, and it is extremely challenging. This leads to some exceptionally intense situations when the leading proponents wage war and it has ensured great longevity for this title.
Super Smash Bros Melee
Melee is now 18 years old, but it remains one of the most popular video games in the world thanks to its insanely popular multiplayer mode. The gameplay offers a huge amount of options and allows professionals to really stamp their personality on the characters, leading to remarkably complex and strategic fights. The action is frenetic and the pace is electrifying. It moves at a rate of 60 frames per second of play and the top players can react to movements in the blink of an eye.
It is elating to watch an expert player battle back from almost certain defeat to sweep a rival aside with a precise combo. The Melee community is seriously passionate about the game, and the atmosphere inside a stadium when a big tournament is unfolding is something to behold. It features all manner of popular characters and it is fun to watch them battle it out, as evidenced by Pikachu’s 45-second Four-Stock to see off Fox.
League of Legends
LoL remains the world’s most popular esport and it has captured the imagination thanks to some intense battles over the years. It hurtles forward at a blistering pace towards the end of a round and the strategy involved can lead to some jaw-dropping scenes. Two teams of five increasingly powerful champions juke it out across multiple battlefields and there is little room for error.
The legendary duel between Faker and Ryu encapsulates everything that is great about LoL. Both chose Zed as their champions for a huge showdown at the OGN Summer 2013 qualifiers and they came together at a pivotal moment in the match. Ryu’s Zed was at full health, whereas Faker’s only had 20% and he knew that one false move would cost him a respawn and control. He then proceeded to display astonishing mechanical skill, impeccable timing and dazzling auto-attack juking to dodge everything Ryu threw at him.
It was a fight he had no right to win, but he cemented his status as the world’s finest mid-laner with the sort of crisp mechanics that inspired millions to take up LoL.