List of esports games
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Esports are video games which are played in professional competitions, usually fall into a few major genres. The majority of esports titles are fighting games, first-person shooters (FPS), real-time strategy (RTS), or multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBA), with the MOBA genre being the most popular in terms of participation and viewership. The following is a selection of games which currently have or had a professional scene, sorted by genre and ordered roughly chronologically.
- 1 Fighting games
- 2 First-person shooters
- 3 Real-time strategy
- 4 Sports games
- 5 Racing
- 6 Multiplayer online battle arena
- 7 Others
- 8 See also
- 9 References
Competitions in the genre are generally individual competitions with both players providing input to the same machine. The genre originally focused on arcade play, but has gradually moved to console play as arcades have declined. The Street Fighter series, The King of Fighters series, Mortal Kombat series, Marvel vs. Capcom series, Tekken series, Killer Instinct series and Super Smash Bros. series are amongst those fighting games played at a professional level. Important tournaments for the genre include the Evolution Championship Series and Capcom Cup, Tougeki – Super Battle Opera was a major tournament for several years.
Fighting game enthusiasts generally prefer the moniker "competitive gaming", and often eschew the term "e-sports", citing cultural differences between the predominantly PC-gaming esports communities and the older arcade-gaming community.
Members of the fighting game community are generally especially cognizant of their cc to the old arcade-era competitions, wishing to prioritize the preservation the spirit of those competitions over simple monetization of fighting competitions.
Professional Street Fighter players include Daigo Umehara, who had two of his matches included in a 2011 Kotaku list of "The 10 Best Moments in Pro-Gaming History". His early 1998 match against American player Alex Valle in Street Fighter Alpha 3 ranked sixth and his 2004 comeback against American player Justin Wong in Street Fighter III: Third Strike ranked first, while his 2009 grand finals match against Wong in Street Fighter IV at Evo 2009 was listed as having "[j]ust missed the cut."
Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series has a large competitive community. While every title has been featured in high-profile tournaments, Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U are the most popular for high level competition as of 2016. Major League Gaming regularly sponsored Melee events from 2004 to 2007, before dropping it in favor for the 2008 sequel Super Smash Bros. Brawl. According to Major League Gaming, over 400 Super Smash Bros. Brawl competitive tournaments were held in 2010 in North America. Since then, Melee has again been periodically hosted at MLG events, with the latest being MLG 2015 World Finals. Smash Wii U had an online contest sponsored by ESL. Other notable national tournaments to feature Smash games include Apex and Evolution Championship Series (EVO). At EVO 2016, Smash Wii U became the largest Smash tournament ever with 2,662 entrants.
Marvel vs. Capcom
Marvel vs. Capcom (MvC) is a fighting game series developed by Capcom that features characters from Capcom games and Marvel comic book characters. The series was played at the Evolution Championship Series from 2000 until 2017.
Namco's Tekken series is known as the lightning chess of fighting games, having a large player base in Asian countries. Over the years Tekken has been cited as the most technical among fighting games. Praised for its balance, strong basics, depth and one of the few fighting games to feature a real 3D design, it continues to be featured in various championships. The "Master cup" series of Japan, "Final round" series of U.S.A, "Strongstyle" series of U.S.A, "UT" championship series of Europe are a few examples of events that are, or started off as exclusive Tekken events, and still hold it as a main game. The "King of Iron Fist Tournament" is a Tekken only tournament hosted by Namco themselves. Apart from this, other shows such as "Tekken Crash", "Tekken Strike" are Tekken only shows held in South Korea on the E-sports channel "Nice Game T.V". Tekken has made it periodically into the Evo Championship series, and since 2013 has become a permanent part of the event. Although it has a lesser player-base in the west, it seems to be steadily rising. In the east it dominates the arcade scene today leaving other games of its genre miles behind.
The Killer Instinct series is a combo-heavy franchise created by Rare and currently maintained by Iron Galaxy Studios and Microsoft. The franchise' most-played game is the 2013 Killer Instinct reboot, with the platform of choice being Xbox One. A circuit for the game has been created called the Killer Instinct World Cup, with a second iteration ending in early 2017. Killer Instinct's best player is Jonathan "Rico Suave" Deleon, who currently holds the EVO and Killer Instinct World Cup titles.
In January 2017, Ultra Arcade enforced a ban on taunting and teabagging in major Killer Instinct tournaments which sparked controversy among the fighting game community with some stating that it is considered impossible to enforce due to certain players' playstyles.
First person shooters focus on simulating a firefight from a first person perspective, and may be either individual or team based. Classic games include the PC game Team Fortress 2, which is featured in a few smaller leagues such as the ESEA League, RGL, United Gaming Clans, and European Team Fortress 2 League. Call of Duty and Halo competitions usually play their console editions.
Doom is a series of multiplayer 1v1 and free-for-all deathmatch games developed by id Software. Doom is notable for establishing the arena-style deathmatch format, and also was partially responsible for the first online FPS community through DWANGO, an online gaming service officially endorsed and partially worked on by id Software. People also played Doom deathmatch online through other BBS services. The Ultimate DOOM and Doom II, alongside Heretic, were played in the Deathmatch '95 tournament, sponsored by id Software, Microsoft, and DWANGO. This tournament, perhaps the first PC esports tournament of its kind, was played through the online DWANGO service. Finalists from the US and the UK were flown to Microsoft headquarters to compete in a LAN party format event, named Judgement Day. Dennis Fong, best known for his victory at the Red Annihilation tournament for Quake, won Judgement Day, marking his first entry into esports. Doom II was also played in Cyberathlete Professional League and QuakeCon tournaments.
Quake is a series 1v1 PC based games developed by id Software. In 1996, id released the original Quake, and launched QuakeCon. QuakeCon is an annual convention which hosts competitions for the series, and has become the largest LAN event in North America. The first offline Quake tournament, Red Annihilation took place in May 1997. The winner, Dennis Fong, going under the alias "Thresh", took home the prize of Quake co-creator John D. Carmack's own red Ferrari 328 GTS convertible.
Quake 4 supported a small professional scene, with a dozen professional players signed to a few professional teams and a number of players marketing themselves through other means. Tournament play for Quake 4 peaked around 2006, with the game included in tournaments such as the Electronic Sports World Cup, the World Series of Video Games before the league's demise, the World Cyber Games 2006, and KODE5. As of 2008, Quake 4 has fallen out of favor in competition for the previous game in the series, Quake III Arena.
Quake Live was released in 2010, primarily based on Quake III Arena. Quake Live was played in tournaments such as DreamHack, QuakeCon, and FaceIt. The popularity of the title declined after a couple years. In 2012, the last major tournament to host Quake competitions, the Intel Extreme Masters, decided to drop the title.
The Counter-Strike series is a series of team based first person shooters which began as a Half-Life mod which was bought by Valve and released from beta in 2000. Professional competition is centered in North America and Europe in tournaments such as the World Cyber Games, CEVO, ESEA League, Intel Extreme Masters, Cyberathlete Professional League and the Electronic Sports League. The defunct league Championship Gaming Series franchised teams with contracted players who played Counter-Strike: Source.
The most recent game in the series, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, was released in August 2012. Although Counter-Strike did not appear in the World Cyber Games 2013, the largest prizepool in the series' history has been announced for ELEAGUE, with $1.4 million USD.
Call of Duty series
The Call of Duty series is a first-person shooter that has been played as an esport primarily in North America and is primarily played on PlayStation consoles, but was formerly played on Xbox. It has been featured in MLG tournaments ever since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was introduced to the league in 2008. Tournaments usually have a large number of unknown teams competing to play with the top pro teams. A well known example is OpTic Gaming, who have earned hundreds of thousands of dollars from competing in leagues and tournaments.
Beginning with the release of the first game in 1998, the Unreal Tournament series of first person shooters supported competitions in the early 2000s, such as the series' inclusion the World Cyber Games from 2001 through 2004. There are no longer major tournaments for the series, as it has been dropped from leagues such as the Electronic Sports League.
The Halo series has been featured in the American Major League Gaming since the release of Halo: Combat Evolved for the original Xbox. The series has also been played internationally, such as the European Console League's event in July 2010 in Liverpool. The Australian Cyber League hosted a Pro Circuit with tournaments in several major cities in Australia, including a January 2009 event in Brisbane. Partially due to changes to the series' design, Halo competitions have gone into steep decline that started in 2010 with the release of Halo: Reach, a drastic change from what was considered traditional Halo, as seen in the original three games. The decline had continued into late 2013/2014 where Halo 4 had been introduced and was an even bigger change to the series than Halo: Reach, and as a result had no major competitive events held, other than the Halo 4 World Championships, which was put on by developer 343 Industries as an early attempt to save Halo esports. 343 Industries later released Halo: The Master Chief Collection, re-releasing all 4 original titles in 60fps, but featuring a completely remastered version of Halo 2 to use as the primary game for halo esports. Although this was a good attempt by the developer to bring back the dying community, the game suffered from many bugs and glitches that made the game unplayable, which furthermore damaged that Halo esports community. At the same time around the release of Halo: the Master Chief Collection, 343 Industries introduced the Halo Championship Series as another attempt to re-establish Halo as a competitive esports title. As Halo declined, it was dropped from Major League Gaming, to be replaced by Call of Duty as the new staple game for the league. Currently Halo 5 is the newest game in the series and has entirely built around being competitive and well suited for esports, featuring vanilla competitive settings, a wide array of competitive game modes, and an in-depth spectator mode. 343 Industries is hosting the Halo World Championships, which will be a 4v4 competition, held in part with competitive leagues MLG, ESL, and Gfinity. The prize pool is currently 2 million dollars, which is crowd funded through Halo 5's in-game "REQ Pack" purchases. The game franchise's history in esports is currently focused at the Halo Championship Series (HCS) Pro League in conjunction with the ESL esports organization, with the first season finished up in
Painkiller is a 2004 game developed by Polish game studio People Can Fly and published by DreamCatcher Interactive. At the end of 2004 Painkiller was chosen by the Cyberathlete Professional League to be their official 2005 CPL World Tour game. This was slightly controversial with many e-sports followers and competitors due to the fact that other games had proven themselves at least as popular online multiplayer games. As the tour had already been announced as a one-on-one deathmatch format competition, Unreal Tournament 2004 and Doom 3 were also fan favourites for this tour. However, since Unreal Tournament 2004 developer Epic Games was in the process of changing publishers from Atari to Midway Games and could not guarantee their full support throughout the year-long tour, it was not chosen. An agreement between the CPL and DreamCatcher stipulated that no other organization was allowed to use Painkiller in a gaming competition with prizes above US$2,000. without obtaining a license from the CPL. For the 2006 CPL World Tour, Quake III Arena was selected as the one-versus-one deathmatch game, replacing Painkiller.
Battlefield series games have been played in multiple tournaments. The PC version of the games are usually used. Electronic Sports League has sponsored Battlefield tournaments since Battlefield 2.
Overwatch has attracted attention as an esports title including teams being picked up by professional teams. Blizzard Entertainment has founded an official Overwatch League for professional, salaried players.
Team Fortress 2
Team Fortress 2 is a class-based shooter that has been played in several online leagues, notably ESEA League, RGL, UGC League, ETF2L, Ozfortress and Asiafortress in a 6vs6 format and a Highlander League 9vs9 format. The game has made appearances at DreamHack due to support from Razer Arena Team Fortress 2 has also held annual international LAN events at the Multiplay Insomnia Gaming Festival during the summer since 2012.
Rainbow Six: Siege
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege is the first esports game in the series. Official competitions of Rainbows Six Siege is Rainbow Six Pro League run by ESL and Ubisoft.. Recently ESL hosted the Rainbow Six Siege ESL pro league season 8, in which G2 Esports crowned the season 8 winners.
Alliance of Valiant Arms
Alliance of Valiant Arms (A.V.A) was a first-person shooter most popular in Asia. Developer Aeria Games sponsored a world championship, and there were also some other independent offline events held. The game has recently shut down, but a sequel (Alliance of Valiant Arms: DOG TAG) is currently in the works which will feature E-Sports.
Special Force II
Competitions involving traditional real time strategy games generally feature individual competitors competing on personal computers over a local area network or the internet. While not nearly as popular as other RTS games during this period, the Age of Empires series was played competitively as well, and was part of the World Cyber Games from 2000-2003, and 2007-2008.
StarCraft: Brood War
StarCraft: Brood War was foundational in the establishment of e-sports, and along with StarCraft II, remains among the most popular series in competitive gaming. StarCraft competitions did especially well in South Korea, which remains central to the competitive scene as a whole. Professionals in Korea achieved a status similar to professional athletes. In the west, StarCraft enjoyed significantly less competitive popularity. StarCraft was the very first game to have been accepted into the World Cyber Games tournament, and had a tournament at their events every year until it was replaced by StarCraft II in 2011. In Korea, prominent StarCraft competitions included the Ongamenet Starleague, the MBCGame StarCraft League, and Proleague. Finals for these league attracted tens of thousands of fans, and became very popular on Korean cable TV.
Warcraft III has been played professionally all around the world, especially in South Korea, China, France, and Germany. Although the game never achieved the same competitive popularity of the original StarCraft, the game supported a few dozen professional teams. The game lacks a singular world championship, as there have been numerous large tournaments. Events have been organized by Blizzard Entertainment, have also been televised Korean leagues, and large tournaments have been held in China. Chinese players generally have used their own clients for online competition, due to a poor connection to the outside world. Notable Warcraft III players include: Xiaofeng "Sky" Li, Dae Hui "FoV" Cho, Jang "Moon" Jae Ho, Fredrik "MaDFroG" Johansson and Manuel "Grubby" Schenkhuizen. In more recent times, Warcraft III competition has declined in popularity. Many professional Warcraft III players have since moved to Starcraft II, including Grubby and Moon. Despite this, Warcraft III continues to be played competitively, still appearing in events such as WCG 2013.
After its release in 2010, StarCraft II competitions gradually replaced the prior Brood War competitions. For example, StarCraft II has replaced the original game in the WCG, and the initially Brood War-focused Proleague mixed StarCraft II into their competitions, before finally phasing out Brood War entirely. Initially, disagreements between Blizzard and Kespa prevented many players in Korea from moving to StarCraft II, but conditions improved, and were ultimately resolved by 2012.
Many leagues and e-sports organizations in Korea and across the world host StarCraft II tournaments, including the Team Liquid StarLeague, Major League Gaming, North American Star League, DreamHack, the Intel Extreme Masters and the GOMTV Global Starcraft II League.
In 2012, Blizzard Entertainment created the StarCraft II World Championship Series. In the tournament's initial 2012 season, Korean player PartinG beat Creator to win the $100,000 grand prize. As of 2013, the WCS system divides players into three leagues: WCS Korea, WCS Europe, and WCS North America. Players earn points based on their performance in many different tournaments, including the ones mentioned above, and the 16 players with the most points advance to world championship at BlizzCon. In the 2013 grand finals, sOs beat the crowd favorite Jaedong 4-1, winning the $100,000 grand prize. The 2nd-place finish for Jaedong awarded him $45,000, making his total prizepool earnings $489,384.83, the highest of any esports player at that time.
FIFA Football is a generally individual competition available on consoles as well as PCs. FIFA has been an official game of the World Cyber Games since its first tournament in 2001. In 2003, a FIFA tournament was also held at the first event of CPL Europe. Germany has the biggest FIFA Football community, hosting leagues such as the Electronic Sports League and the World League eSport Bundesliga (which was aired on the national TV-broadcaster Deutsches Sportfernsehen before the league's cessation). There are also leagues in South Korea like the Ongamenet FifaLeague that are televised. The ESL continues to host FIFA competitions into 2013, as does the ESWC.
Furthermore, the FIFA Interactive World Cup (FIWC) is the world's largest video game tournament and with that the biggest FIFA tournament there is. The virtual football world championship is organised annually by FIFA and its presenting partner EA Sports. The inaugural FIWC took place in Zurich in 2004 and since then enabled millions of football fans from all around the world to fight for the world champion title. The tournament is played on the latest console generations of Xbox and PlayStation.
The Madden NFL series of American football games has been used as esports. Game developer Electronic Arts sponsored a $1 million Madden NFL 17 Championship Series. The television series Madden Nation was an American reality television show, created as a joint effort between EA SPORTS and ESPN Original Entertainment and focused on the competitive scene of Madden.
In February 2017, the National Basketball Association, in conjunction with Take-Two Interactive, announced the creation of an esports league centering on the NBA 2K franchise. Known as the NBA 2K eLeague, it is set to commence competition in 2018.
Pro Evolution Soccer
Rocket League competitions have been run by Twitch.tv, Psyonix Studios, ESL and Major League Gaming as well as other independent tournaments. The $100,000 2v2 Rocket League tournament will kick off in July through the online competitive gaming platform, FaceIt, and move onto regional finals through select NBC Sports regional networks including New England, the Bay Area, and other non-NBC regional networks around the world — a first for Rocket League. The grand finals in August will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network in the U.S. and on Syfy in a handful of other countries.
TrackMania is a racing game franchise developed by Nadeo, and has been an esport since 2006. The majority of the competition on this game are played in TrackMania 2: Stadium, and many tournaments have taken place since then. Until 2015, TrackMania 2: Stadium even had a world cup which took place every year, and the game still has important tournaments with price pools sometimes exceeding US$10,000.
Multiplayer online battle arena
Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games are historically a spin-off of real-time strategy games, but are different enough that they are now generally considered a separate genre. While traditional RTS games feature many units controlled by a single player, MOBAs are typically team focused, the model being five players on a team, each controlling a single "hero" unit. MOBAs are generally played on personal computers.
The Dota franchise began as a fan-made Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos mod named Defense of the Ancients (DotA), released in 2003. The popularity of the original mod, both in casual and competitive play, encouraged Valve Corporation to create a stand-alone sequel, Dota 2. Together, the two games are amongst the most popular electronic sports games played professionally. These titles have been featured at major international tournaments, including DreamHack, as well as the World Cyber Games and ESWC events. Valve hosted Dota 2's public debut in 2011 at The International, which featured a USD$1 million grand prize. In 2012, Valve hosted The International 2012, which also had a million dollar grand prize. The following two internationals set records for having the largest esports prize pool at the time. The International 2015 boasted a prize pool that totalled over $18 million USD, making it the largest esports prize pool for a single tournament until it got surpassed by The International 2016, which boasted a prize pool that totalled over $20 million USD.
Early in the development of Dota 2, Valve was legally opposed by Riot Games and Blizzard Entertainment, both of which voiced their opinions that the DotA name should have remained a community asset. In August 2010, Riot filed an opposing trademark for "DotA", in order to "protect the work that dozens of authors have done to create the game". Valve subsequently won the case, but was opposed by Blizzard, who filed a trademark with similar reasoning. In May 2012, Blizzard and Valve announced that the dispute had been settled, with Valve retaining the commercial franchising rights to the term "Dota", while non-commercial usage of the name could still be used. By July 2016, Dota 2 tournaments had awarded roughly $65 million in prize money altogether, with 12 players winning over $1 million each.
League of Legends
League of Legends (LoL) is a multiplayer online battle arena video game developed and published by Riot Games, primarily inspired by Defense of the Ancients. It was released on October 27, 2009. In an early LoL tournament, the game was featured as a promotional title in the 2010 World Cyber Games in Los Angeles. The victors were the Counter Logic Gaming team from North America, winning a $7,000 prize. LoL was added to the Intel Extreme Masters lineup for the 2011 Electronic Sports League season. The Season 1 World Championships were held at DreamHack Summer 2011 in Sweden. The European team Fnatic defeated teams from Europe and the USA to win US$50,000 of the tournament's US$100,000 prize pool. According to Riot, the final match drew 210,000 concurrent viewers.
Riot announced a prize pool of US $5 million to be paid out over Season 2, allocated to tournaments featuring League of Legends. the Season 2 World Championship featured a prize pool of $2 million USD. Taipei Assassins of Taiwan defeated Azubu Frost of South Korea in the grand finals, winning the $1 million grand prize. During the quarterfinal match against Team Solomid, Azubu Frost player Woong looked at the spectator minimap, resulting in a fine that reduced their winnings by US$30,000. The League of Legends Season 2 World Finals match drew a peak of 1.1 million concurrent viewers, who observed the matches from Internet streams, Korean television, and Chinese television.
In season 3, the total prize pool was US $8 million. The 2013 Season 3 Championships was held in Los Angeles, featuring a prize pool is $2 million with $1 million for first place. The team SKT T1 won the final, which took place at the Staples Centre on October 4. The event drew 1.4 million concurrent viewers during the final series.
Smite is a third-person MOBA developed and published by Hi-Rez Studios. Prior to release, Smite was kept in an extended beta that resulted in over 74 million hours of playtime and the realization of a robust competitive community. Throughout the beta, Hi-Rez hosted a series of LAN and online events with cash prize pools. Smite was officially released in North America and western Europe on March 25, 2014.
The weekend following its release, Hi-Rez hosted a Smite Launch Tournament in Atlanta where the eight best teams from Europe and North America played for a prize pool of over $200,000 USD, half of which was raised by the community from sales of a character skin. Team Solo Mid from Europe won first place, with Team Dignitas from North America taking second place. Viewers at home could make their own predictions for a chance to win various prizes. According to Hi-Rez, the event drew more than 400,000 unique viewers worldwide. After the event, Hi-Rez added a custom-branded skin in honor of Team Solo Mid's victory.
In May 2014, Hi-Rez announced the Smite World Championship Series (SWC). The SWC began with three months of regional qualifiers, which culminated into two separate $50,000 USD regional LAN events for Europe and North America. The SWC took place on January 9–11, 2015 at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta, and featured a prize pool of $2,612,260 USD, raised from the community through the sale of digital cosmetics and special edition items. The World Championship featured teams from North America, Europe, China, Brazil, and Latin America. After several matches, the North American team COGnitive Prime (Now Cloud9 G2A) took 1st place earning $1,306,130 USD, with Titan, a European team who began their run to the SMITE World Championship in the open amateur scene, coming in second place. Afterwards, much like the Smite Launch Tournament, a branded cosmetic skin was released to honor COGnitive Prime and an invitational competition scheduled in their name.
Mobile video game Vainglory has attracted some interest as an esports game, including the sponsorship of a team by SK Gaming. It boasted the largest prize money awarded for a mobile game with $350,000 from tournaments around the world in Fall 2015.
Gears of War
Gears of War is a third-person shooter series developed by The Coalition. It is usually played during ESL and Major League Gaming events. In 2016, Xbox and the Coalition announced the a Pro Circuit for Gears of War 4, with the prize pool being one million USD.
War Thunder (WT) is a cross-platform MMO combat game for PC, PS4, Mac and Linux, dedicated to World War II military aviation, armoured vehicles, and fleets developed by Gaijin Entertainment that was first released in 2012. War Thunder held the first season of its Thunder League tournament in Late 2015. The tournament prize fund was directly funded by the players of game through the purchase of special in game goods, with the final prize pool reaching a sum of $57,425 distributed between 6 teams.
World of Tanks
World of Tanks (WoT) is an MMO tank game for PC and Xbox One developed by Wargaming that was first released in 2010. Since 2012, the company has been heavily invested in the WoT esports scene. There is annual world championship with qualifier tournaments held across the world. The Electronic Sports League also sponsors some WoT tournaments.
World of Warcraft
Blizzard's MMO World of Warcraft added PvP features to the game after its release, and was received enthusiastically as an eSport. The game was generally phased out of MLG between 2010 and 2011, but Blizzard continues to hold the World of Warcraft Arena Global Invitational annually. The prize pool for the 2013 World of Warcraft Arena Global Invitational totaled over $180,000 and that of the 2014 World of Warcraft Arena Invitational World Championship totaled $250,000.
The Pokémon series of strategy video games are played competitively. A Pokémon Company-sponsored world championship organized by their Play! Pokémon division has been held annually for several years.
Puyo Puyo was approved as an esports game by the Japanese esports Union in March 2018. The first esports tournament for the game was held during Sega Fest 2018 from April 14 to April 15 of the same year.
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