If you’re ready to get serious with your gaming, then you might be wondering what popular esports games are played at the highest competitive level.
The global esports market is expected to surpass $1.084 in 2021 – a 14% growth from last year. Moreover, the global esports audience is also expected to surge to over 728.8 million worldwide.
With so much potential at stake, it makes sense to channel your time and energy into a game that is filled with potential while having one eye open for the future.
In this post, we will cover a multitude of different gaming genres – to provide an introduction of what you can expect – from some of the top games in the esports scene.
What are the Most Popular Esports Games?
Dota 2 was first released by Valve in 2013 and has captured the fascination of the gaming community ever since. It is played both professionally, and casually by millions of passionate fans worldwide, for its gripping MOBA action/ strategic gameplay.
The standard Dota game consists of 2 teams of five characters. Each team has the goal of protecting their own fortress, while destroying the oppositions on the other side of the map.
Each character on the team has their own unique abilities and can be controlled by other players. At the begginning of the match their goal is to earn gold by fighting their opponents, which in turn make their characters stronger.
When one team manages to fight through their opponents armies and destroy their opposing fortress, the game is finally over. Essentially it’s like a game of “wizard chess” filled with magic and spells, for those that still can’t get their head around it!
Dota 2 is famous for its annual tournament – the International. The competition is widely regarded as the major event in the esports circuit and features a whopping prize pool of over $30 million!
If you’re looking to get involved with one of the most popular esports games, it can be downloaded for free here.
Fortnite is a third-person shooter survival game that was launched by Epic games in 2017. The game has three distinct game-modes, with the most popular being the highly addictive battle royal!
At the start of the battle royal you will be taken aboard the ‘Battle Bus’, and air-dropped across the games expansive map with 100 other players.
After landing, the goal is to scavenge for weapons, items, resources, and even vehicles to have the best chance of eliminating all other opponents.
Unlike many other conventional third-person shooters, Fortnite gives its users the ability to create defences and structures around them at a rapid pace. This can help in protecting against other players during combat and creates a greater technical aspect to the game.
The highly anticipated Fortnite World Cup is the largest event In the community. The competition generates a prize pool of up to $30 million, which shows just how big the game has grown.
Fortnite is regularly updated, along with the maps at the end of each season. It is one of the most popular esports games that is here to stay. You can download it for free from here.
League of Legends
League of legends is a decade-old game that is still going strong to this day. It was developed and published by Riot Games, and has become very popular on mobile.
The game-play principles are similar to other MOBA’s as It is also a 5v5 team game, where you and your teammates try to win by destroying the enemies base.
In LOL, players assume the role of an unseen “Summoner” that controls a “Champion”. The Champion is a character that has its own unique abilities.
The role of the protagonist is to fight against the other team, or the computer-controlled Champions, with the goal of destroying the Nexus – a structure at the center of the opposition’s arena.
There are various League of Legends tournaments that take place throughout the year, but the biggest one is the LOL World Championship. In the World Championship; teams compete for the sort-after Summoner’s cup and a prize pool of over $1 million!
League of Legends is free to download from the official website here.
Rainbow Six: Siege
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege is the latest instalment of the first-person shooter franchise. It was released by Ubisoft in 2015 and primarily focuses on destruction, gadgetry and intense close quarters combat.
Similar to Counter-strike, the game is centred around two teams of attackers and defenders; the terrorists and the counter terrorists. The game supports 5v5 matches and features over 20 different maps that host a wide range of gameplay modes.
These include: Save the Hostage, Bomb Threat, Secure Area, Tactical Realism, Terrorist hunt, Situations, and Outbreak. All modes have varying objectives for both teams to work together co-operatively in each round to complete.
Rainbow Six: Siege has its own dedicated player base, and is played competitively as an esports game. The major competitions for R6S include: the Pro League, (featuring esports teams from all of the 7 continents), and the five week “Six Invitational” tournament.
In 2020, the Six Invitational is set to include a prize pool of $3,000,000! If you’re looking for an esport game which is slightly underrated and has huge potential, then this is the one for you!
Click here to purchase a cheap Rainbow Six: Siege Steam key.
Apex Legends is a battle royal game that was released on Feb 2019. The game is based in the Titanfall universe, and sees legendary characters with powerful abilities team up to battle for fame and fortune on the fringes of the Frontier.
The game-play consists of twenty 3 man squads that have to gather both resources, and weapons in an attempt to defeat all other teams in combat. Initially, each team lands on an island that is free to explore, similar to other games in the genre.
Apex Legends has gathered a lot of steam in a relatively short time. The game hit 50 million players within the first month after its release date, and is estimated to have 8-10 million weekly players according to publisher electronic arts!
The Apex Legends Global Series is one of the newest additions to the esports scene. Currently, the competition has 12 live events with a total prize pool of $3 million. Players looking to qualify for the event will have to qualify through a series of online tournaments to earn a spot in one of the Premier and Major Events.
With so many live events and a such large prize pool, you can be sure that this is one of many new popular esports games about to flourish.
Apex Legends is free to download from here.
Rocket League is a hybrid of arcade-style soccer and vehicle powered mayhem. It was released by Psyonix in July 2015, and has been gaining players rapidly ever since.
If you’ve never played Rocket League before, then the concept is fairly simple. The game involves simulating soccer, but in the unconventional way of using rocket-powered cars!
The game-play features physics-driven manoeuvres, allowing players to boost, jump and spin their car in mid-air with the aim of scoring a goal. You can also destroy other players vehicles by propelling your car towards them after gaining a boost, as well as make various modifications to your motor.
Rocket League includes casual and competitive Online Matches, which has seen it become adopted as a popular esport game. The game is regularly featured on many smaller tournament based platforms, and has its own larger biannual competition “The Rocket League Championship Series”, where many professional players participate in the event!
Rocket League is a game that’s based on skill and very little luck, it’s a fine choice for anyone searching for a game that’s very hard to get good, but still insanely fun!
Click here to purchase a cheap Rocket League Steam key.
Overwatch is a vibrant team-based shooter set on a near-future earth. The game was first launched by Blizzard Entertainment in March 2016, and is hugely popular by players of all ages looking to dive into the FPS action.
The matches are made up of an intense 6v6 battle between a cast of unique heroes, each with their own individual style of play. There are currently 30 characters to choose from, and many challenges for the world’s heroes to team up, and take on.
The main objective of each team is to work together to maintain their control over the control points on the map. This can also include moving the payload to pass through the map within a specific amount of time.
The Overwatch League is the most prestigious tournament for those wanting to play the esports game on a professional level. The competition had a whopping $5 million prize pool for the 2019 season, making It one of the largest winnings for any game.
If you prefer a unique twist to your single-person shooting games, you need not look any further.
Overwatch can be bought from their official website here.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is a multiplayer FPS developed by Valve. CS:GO is still regarded as one of the most popular esports games, having one of the largest fan based communities in the world. It is the focal point of many major tournament events, since its first release in 2012.
If you are new to the counter strike series; the game comprises of two teams, being the Terrorists and Counter-terrorists. The task of each team is to eliminate the other while also completing separate objectives that depend on the game mode.
The Terrorists, must either plant the bomb or defend the hostages, whereas the Counter-Terrorists must either prevent the bomb from being planted, defuse the bomb, or rescue the hostages to win the match.
The CS:GO Majors is considered the most prestigious esports tournament for the game, which consists of 24 teams from all over the world. The event features a $1,000,000 prize pool, so If you like first-person shooting games, then this is one you cannot ignore.
CS:GO is free to download and play from Steam.
Arena of Valor
Arena of Valor is a MOBA game that was primarily designed for the mobile device. It was published in 2018 by Tencent Games, and has seen its following soar quite rapidly since.
Much like other titles in the genre, the game consists of two opposing teams that have to destroy each other’s bases on either side of the map.
However, this is not quite as easy as it sounds. In order to reach this victory; players must first take down all of the enemies defence towers, as well as defeat any neutral monsters found along the way – in a bid to earn additional XP/ Gold, used for levelling up their teams characters.
Arena of Valor revolves around classic 5v5 combat, and includes 85 unique and powerful heroes to choose from. Each hero can be categorized into one of 6 races: Marksman, Mage, Assassin, Tank, Warrior and Support.
The role of each race will determine your strategy to draw first blood and ultimately crush your enemies!
Arena of Valor has over than 200 million players and its own World Cup competitions. It is currently up there with most popular esports games played on mobile!
The game can be downloaded for free from the Google play store.
Super Smash Bros: Ultimate
Super Smash Bros Ultimate is the latest release in the well-established cross-over fighting franchise. It was first published by Nintendo in 2018, and is arguably one of the best fighting games in the world right now.
Smash Ultimate sees all your favourite Nintendo Gaming icons clash in the ultimate showdown. So far, this features a rooster of over 70+ different characters (plus DLC). The game gives players full control over their selected characters to square-off in action-packed battles, on more than 100 classic and returning stages.
Super Smash Bros is widely played as a competitive video game, and has become very popular within the esports scene. Although Nintendo do not sponsor their own global competitions, organizers regularly feature the game in many of their major tournaments events each year.
Last year this included EVO, Super Smash Con, and many others. The game is also played extensively on online tournaments. Nintendo have their own events page linking to online tournaments here.
If you’re looking for a fast fighting paced game that’s able to provide hours of entertainment, then this is your game.
Call of Duty – (Modern Warfare/ Black Ops)
Call of Duty is an iconic first-person shooter franchise that is primarily focused around the Second World War. In COD, players can experience the perspectives of infantry soldiers, in an incredibly raw, gritty and provocative narrative.
Call of Duty games often include a dramatic single-player story campaign, but it’s the cross-platform multiplayer mode that brings the best players together in one place.
Here, you are able to squad-up and simulate tactical gameplay in close quarters combat; with a focus on map exploration, elite operations and weapon mastery.
COD: Modern Warfare is the latest game to be released in the franchise. The game is set to include its own professional city-based franchised league this year (2020), sponsored by publisher Activision. The league will launch with 12 teams from 4 different western regions, and will include roosters of 7, to play in 5v5 matches.
Going forward, Activision aim to create a path into esports for amateur and semi-pro players by administering extensive amateur competitions – which is great news for anyone who has recently bought the game and is looking to get into esports.
The tournaments will include both online and offline open bracket tournaments, in many cities around the world. You can find out more here.
Click here to purchase Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
Tekken 7 is the latest release of the popular fighting franchise, becoming the 7th instalment of the game. The plot follows the final fight between martial artist ‘Heihachi’ and his son, that represents the final chapter of the 20-year-long Mishima feud.
Similar to previous versions, the game is primarily focused around it’s multiplayer modes, which allows players to fight against one another in 1v1 combat. However, Tekken 7 stands out from its predecessors due to its new features such as Rage, extended combos, and slow-mo finishing moves.
The game continues to appeal to many veteran players by featuring the best old school characters, while polishing up upon the game mechanics, and further developing the story line.
The series is largely developed with the competitive esports scene in mind and is a regular addition to a number of major competitions each year, most notably including EVO.
There is even an international “TEKKEN World Tour” sponsored by developers BANDAI NAMCO’s, which features multiple prize pools of over $185,000! If you’re looking for a fighting esports game which is here to stay, then look no further than Tekken!
Click here to buy Tekken 7.
FIFA 21 brings two sides of the world’s game to life for an all new authentic street-soccer experience. The game was released in September 2019, and is the latest title of the ever popular football simulation game.
Like many of the games predecessors, FIFA 21 focuses on a series of different challenges and modes based around the real-life football match. This ranges from traditional 11v11 matches to small-sided street, and futsal games.
The game re-introduces other widely praised features including a career mode, and the ability to build your dream squad with FIFA ultimate team.
Due to its universal appeal, and competitive one vs one nature; Fifa 21 is widely recognised as an esport game and is included in thousands of global tournaments each year. The largest competition is the FIFA eWorld cup, which has a prize pool of $500,000!
FIFA is an excellent choice for those that have mastered the art of the game and are looking to get involved with esports. The game has a real dedicated player base, so there are always tons of open online qualifying tournaments that can be found on different esports platforms here.
PUBG is a battle royal shooter that was launched in March 2017. The concept is similar to Fortnite, where you have to gather supplies and outwit 100 other players in a fight for survival.
You can either play in solo mode, duo-mode or as a part of a 4 person team. Each match starts with players parachuting from a plane onto one of the four maps. The map slowly shrinks over time, aimed at directing survivors into tighter areas. The last person or team alive successfully wins the match!
PUBG is well known for its competitive esports scene both on consoles and mobile devices. It has plans to expand all competitions going into 2020.
The PUBG Global Series (PGS) is now regarded as one of the most the most prestigious events in battle royal esports. It was built upon the momentum of last year’s PUBG Nations Cup and PUBG Global Championship. Separate to the PGS, there is also a PUBG Mobile World Championship.
PUBG is one of the fastest-growing online shooting games that it is only going to attract more players. It certainly warrants a check if you’re looking for an exciting esports game to get involved with.
PUBG is free to download.
Mortal Kombat 11:
Mortal Kombat 11 is the latest instalment in the critically acclaimed fighting franchise. It was first launched in April 2019 and offers eye popping ‘2.5D’ graphics in a bid to bring you as close to the fight as possible.
Unlike many other fighting games, Mortal Kombat has custom character variations, giving you unprecedented control of your fighters. It features a roster of new and returning classic fighters to continue the epic 27 year saga.
Expect an unprecedented amount of gore, and over the top fatality finishing moves, from possibly one of the most fully featured fighting games you can buy.
Similar to Tekken, the game has its own annual esports tournament, the ‘Mortal Kombat Pro Series‘, which sees participation from people all over the world. The tournament itself is quite popular, and can be easily registered from the official Mortal Kombat esports page of their website here.
If you value unpredictability in your esports tournament fighting, then this one game that you have to consider playing.
Click here to buy Mortal Kombat.
Smite has been around since March 2014, and is another MOBA game that’s played between 2 teams of five. This fast-paced multiplayer game has many (PVP) modes, and up to 107 different characters from 14 different pantheons.
In each game, players are able to take control of a mythological figure (such as a God or Goddess), and use their abilities to compete in competitive team-based combat. Every character has their own special class being either an: Assassin, Guardian, Hunter, Mage, or Warrior.
The game originates at the ‘home’ fountain of each team. This is where players spawn to start building or buying items that are able to enhance the player’s god. Phoenixes and guard towers make up each teams defences.
The aim of the game is to destroy the phoenixes and defeat the Titan of the opposite team, to be crowned with the win!
Smite has a successful esports scene with multiple global tournaments. The Smite World Championship is the largest annual competition that includes a prize pool of just under 1 million dollars!
If you need a unique MOBA game, then you can download it from here.
Street Fighter V
Street Fighter is another legendary fighting franchise giving players the experience of high intensity head-to-head battles. The original version of the game was launched in 1987, where it has become one of the highest-grossing video game franchises of all time.
The latest release; Street fighter was launched in 2016. It has since then received a major update in 2018 to become Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, and is planned to receive a further update in 2020 titled: Street Fighter V: Champion Edition.
Street Fighter has a dedicated fan following, being one of the oldest fighting game franchises around. The game also has its own Tournament circuit – the “Capcom Pro Tour” and is regularly included in various esports events globally.
The popularity of the game certainly makes it a respectable choice for anyone looking to get involved with possibly one of the most nostalgic esports fighting games.
Click here to purchase Street Fighter V.
Hearthstone is a collectible turn-based game card game which is set in the Warcraft universe. It was first released by Blizzard Entertainment in March 2014 and has become increasing popular throughout the years.
The game-play offers a unique premise that differs to many other conventional esports games. Players must collect an assortment of digital cards that can be used to attack opponents. Each card will provide powerful spells and can also include the ability to summon minions.
Hearthstone is primarily focused around online 1 vs 1 matches giving players the chance to climb the ranks and win items for their performances.
Hearthstone has an assortment of tournaments hosted by Blizzard and other organizers each year. The major competitions include the “Hearthstone Masters Tour” and “Hearthstone Grandmasters”.
If you’re looking for a competitive card game, packed with hundreds obscure moments and scenarios, then this one will fit your requirements. The game is now reported to have over 100 million players, but it’s fair to say it’s prime in esports was long ago.
Hearthstone can be downloaded for free from here.
StarCraft II is a real-time strategy game from Blizzard Entertainment. It has been around since 2010 and is considered to be one of the first esport games.
StarCraft is based around three species: the Terrans, Zerg, and Protoss, who clash against each other in a fight for survival. In the multiplayer game, you can take the role of any the species, and use them in a meaningful way to mine resources, and create structures/ army units.
The main objective of this game is pretty simple. A game can be won by destroying all of your opponents structures, and defeating the opponent’s units.
Although the game is slowly starting to decline with Its age, it’s still fairly popular due to the awesome storyline and large fan following behind it. You won’t find any problems getting paired up with 1v1 player matches if you still want to join in on the fun now, but the larger matches have fallen out of favour.
StarCraft II has its own legendary world championship with a prize pool of over $400,000. It’s just another esports option out there, if you’re looking for a unique multiplayer game.
You can download the game for free from here.
Heroes of the Storm
Heroes of the Storm was developed and released by Blizzard Entertainment in 2015. It takes a simplified approach to the MOBA genre, making it perfect for beginners.
The game features 88 playable characters, including your favourite heroes and villains from Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo. Likewise to other games of the genre, it consist of two teams that control either side of the map.
On each side, there is a vast building called “the core” that teams have to destroy and protect. This involves using your characters abilities to battle through the defences of your enemy.
A teams defences can be made up of towers, cannons, walls, and other structures to halt you in your way. The enemy’s team will also try to stop you at the same time. If you do not like complex MOBA games, then this one will appeal to you as it has much more simple gameplay.
Unfortunately Blizzard announced that it is dramatically scaling down development on Heroes of the Storm since the budget and team were cut, so if you are looking for a shot on one of the most popular esports games, then it might be better to go with one of the other options in the genre.
Find Heroes of the Storm free here.
World of Tanks
World of Tanks is a team-based MMO action game featuring tank-armoured warfare. It was first released in 2010 but has continued to receive regular updates over the years, and has even expanded onto mobile platforms.
The game boasts over 200 pre-World War II era tanks, from: America, Germany, France and the USSR. Each tank has its own unique class, such as: light tanks, medium tanks, and heavy tanks. Players can customize any of their chosen tanks to fit each style of play.
The standard battle focuses on 15 vs. 15 tank on tank matches. The game encourages teammates to communicate with each other over their mic’s in a bid to come up with strategies and tactics that they can use to destroy the competition.
World of tanks has hosted a number of large tournaments in the past such as the WOT grand finals. Unfortunately the popularity of game has somewhat declined in the esports scene, but if your searching for competitive matches they can still be found hosted on the official website.
Click here to play world of Tanks!
We hope you enjoyed this list on the most popular esports games!
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