The popularity of esports events continues to grow, with more active participants than ever before and increasing audiences. Although esports titles are more diverse than ever, some gaming genres remain firm favorites with players and audiences alike. Online battle arena titles are among some of the most popular titles, with massive multiplayer participation and significant viewership. However, real-time strategies and first-person shooters are also staples. Although not as heavily represented, beat ‘em ups have also been long-standing fixtures of the esports scene.
When it comes to determining the popularity of an esports game, a few different things need to be taken into account. Firstly, there is overall player count and engagement. Prize pools for tournaments are another reliable guideline for assessing the popularity of esports games. Finally, there is viewership. With online platforms like 1337 Pro providing fans with live streaming, stats, and score updates, esports viewership is higher than it has ever been. Below are just a handful of the most popular games on the esports scene today.
League of Legends
If you are even halfway engaged with the esports scene, you will have no doubt heard of League of Legends before. This engaging title has proven to be one of the most popular esports games around and consistently brings in massive audiences and considerable prize pools. As of 2021, League of Legends enjoys a player count of more than 100 million. It also brings in some of the biggest audiences of any esports title. In fact, the League of Legends World Championships brought in more than 45 million viewers at its peak.
In terms of the overall number of players, Fortnite is, without doubt, the most popular gaming title around. It also continues to be a firm fixture of esports tournaments. The appeal of Fortnite is obvious. For a start, this is a free-to-play title, so there is no paywall locking out new newcomers. It also has broad appeal to all ages, making it an accessible option for younger players. In 2020, Fortnite was also one of the most lucrative esports titles around, with a prize fund of more than 7 million dollars. It also enjoyed impressive viewing numbers, with peak audiences of more than 2 million.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
This iconic title from Valve has been going strong since 2012. Even though newer first-person shooters have emerged in the years since Global Offensive still maintains a huge fanbase thanks to a thriving online community and first-rate gameplay. However, this particular addition to the Counter-Strike line-up is beginning to show its advanced age. Visually, the graphics don’t hold a torch to newer first-person shooter titles. However, if you’re looking for fast-paced action with minimal frills, Global Offensive ticks every box. Players can still find many lucrative prizes on offer, while audience engagement remains strong. During the final rounds of play at the Intel Extreme Masters in 2021, peak viewership of almost 600,000 viewers proved there was still a substantial appetite for this first-person shooter favorite.
In 2020, Rocket League officially hit 1 million players, playing online simultaneously, and has topped 75 million players in total. Described as ‘soccer, but with rocket-powered cars’ Rocket League has a solid fan base and was one of the leading games in supporting cross-platform play between PC and consoles. In 2016, the first Rocket League Championship Series was launched and Rocket League has continued to be an esports fan favorite ever since.
Other Esports Favorites
The above are just a few of the most popular esports games currently enjoying the spotlight. Although we haven’t had time to explore them further here, the likes of Dota 2, Overwatch, and StarCraft II are all incredibly popular titles that have amassed legions of active players and consistently bring in audiences numbering in the millions.
With Rockstar players, tournaments that pack out stadiums, and a heavy flow of cash being pumped into the esports machine, the only way is up for the future of esports. Although officials have confirmed esports will not be recognized as an official event in the 2021 Olympics, the multibillion-dollar industry shows no signs of slowing down with fans and players sitting firm that an Olympic sport is the obvious next step for esports.