The world of competitive video gaming has been on an incredible growth trajectory for the past couple of years. The pace only accelerated when the pandemic shut down traditional sporting events, and fans were scrambling for attractive alternatives worldwide.
The most popular esports games right now in the world have all benefited from this, and if you’re new to this exciting scene, these are the titles you should keep an eye on.
8+1 most popular esports games right now
League of Legends
You know it’s a serious business when brands like Louis Vuitton are lining up to cooperate with you. That’s the level League of Legends esports is on, with millions of people following the franchised global leagues and the international top tier competitions (the Mid-Season Invitational and Worlds).
Riot has done a notably good job at managing their game’s competitive scene, seeing it as a valuable property on its own instead of just an extension of their marketing arm for their MOBA title. Its North American competition, the LCS, is seen by many as the most prominent esports league globally and certainly one of the few profitable by themselves.
Arguably the most challenging esport game out there, at least in terms of sheer lexical knowledge you need to gather before standing a chance in a proper lobby, Dota 2 is Valve’s answer to League, the second titan in the MOBA genre, infinitely more complicated and in-depth than its counterpart but therefore also a bit more of a niche title.
The International, the yearly finale of the Dota 2 competitive scene, is the biggest esport event globally. Its tenth edition offers an insane $40 million to the best teams come this October.
The number one esport in terms of longevity, the Counter-Strike franchise has survived over twenty years and has positively thrived over the emergence of competitive gaming in the mainstream.
Though its bloody nature and sticky subject (terrorists and counter-terrorists battle it out over planting and defusing bombs) make it a tough sell to mainstream crowds and sponsors, the incredible appeal of the ironclad core gameplay loop and the skill expression enabled by the game makes this 5v5 FPS one of the biggest esports in the world.
Just like how there’s a League to Dota, there’s a Valorant to CS:GO – Riot’s latest adventure involves a reasonably faithful recreation of Counter-Strike but without the tonal baggage and more accessible gameplay. What’s the catch? The depth of the experience may not match that of their inspiration, though the rapid pace of modern game development means that it can change at any time.
A well-shepherded competitive scene and experienced developers honing in on an already potent formula make Valorant a real threat to CS:GO’s crown and welcome growth in the scene for those looking for hyper-competitive shooters gameplay.
Epic Games’ legendary battle royale title is now just as much of a cultural phenomenon as a game, with partnerships ranging from the NBA to the Rick and Morty franchise and much more. The devs are also looking to supercharge the game’s esports scene, albeit with limited success so far: though the interest and the spectacle element are there.
Fortnite is one of the most popular esports by tournament. The challenge of competitively balancing a 100-player matchup with semi-randomized spawns is a huge one, and it’s safe to say no sure-fire solution has been forthcoming so far in the industry.
Activision-Blizzard made massive waves in the gaming industry when they attempted to establish a franchised league for their upcoming squad-based fantasy shooter Overwatch, similar to the big North American sports franchises. Massive buy-ins, massive branding, no relegation, consistent views: it was a huge statement at the time.
The league is still around, but the hype has moved over to Overwatch 2 since then, a PvE experience aimed to rejuvenate the fanbase’s flagging interest in the title.
Call of Duty
The longstanding FPS franchise has its own franchised league that has started to outpace the higher-profile OWL over the last year. The typically North American experience features tons of thrash-talking and aggressive branding, making for a scene with much higher community engagement rates than what you’d find elsewhere in esports.
The sheer popularity of “real” football and its digital counterpart guarantees the presence of FIFA on any list of this kind, simply because of the number of people interested in the game. Though FIFA’s gameplay doesn’t mesh well with top-tier competitive play, and it’s tough to make the broadcasts as exciting as in the case of an FPS or a MOBA, it’s a solid and steady presence in the esports scene for a reason.
Though its inclusion on this list is certainly contentious in the eyes of the purists, the interest generated by online chess and the amounts of money on offer at prestigious invitationals make the royal game a worthy part of this list.
Five-figure concurrent viewers and six-digit prize pools are nothing to sneeze at, and the popularity of the Queen’s Gambit series alongside an explosion in online chess content means it’s in just as good a shape as some of the most profitable esports.
How to bet on esports
Betting on esports is easy as pie – after finding the right bookmaker for you, creating an account and depositing, find their esports betting markets, then select the match you’ve got a good hunch for, place a wager, confirm it, then enjoy the game! Now that esports has reached mainstream popularity, even the biggest bookmakers offer odds on these games, making it easy and safe to bet on them.
Betway – As one of the biggest global bookmakers, Betway has a large footprint in the esports scene. Their generous deposit bonuses make them an instant hit for gaming enthusiasts.
888sport – 888sport’s detailed sportsbook and A-grade payment solutions per SBS experts make them another excellent choice for betting on esports.
MyBookie – They are one of the most well-known betting sites aimed at US customers and were among the early adopters of esports betting in the space, and they’re therefore a sure-fire choice for gamers.
All in all, the list of popular esports games today involves a healthy mix of old-school heavy-hitters and new kids on the block, meaning everyone can find something that’s right up their alley. Those interested in wagering on competitive video game matches also have an easier time doing so than ever before, with an ever-growing list of safe and reliable options of online betting sites to consider.