Although Valorant, League of Legends, and Dota 2 are prominent fixtures at most pro-level esports events, some classic titles have never truly gone out of style. There also seems to be a resurgence in popularity for vintage classics in recent years, with beloved beat ’em ups and timeless puzzle games returning to prominence. Tired of watching CSGO live and LoL teams battling it out on the world stage?
Below are eight retro games you’ll find being played competitively today.
1. Street Fighter II
Ever since its release in 1991, Street Fighter II has enjoyed a special place in the hearts of beat ’em up lovers. This classic brawler quickly made its way out of arcades and into the homes of video game fans when it was ported to the Super NES and Game Boy. The Street Fighter series is still going strong today, with the fifth entry in the main series a staple of pro-level esports tournaments, including the Capcom Pro Tour. Meanwhile, Super Street Fighter II Turbo has been a regular feature of major esports events, including the Evolution Championship Series.
2. Super Smash Bros.
The Super Smash Bros. series demonstrates that age does nothing to dampen the appeal of a good racing game. Pretty much every game in this series continues to be played competitively, although Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Super Smash Bros. Melee remain the most popular. Several major esports organizations host Super Smash Bros. fixtures, including the annual GENESIS and Super Smash Con.
The original StarCraft was released in 1998 to great acclaim. With its richly drawn science fiction world and demanding strategy, this classic from Blizzard Entertainment has never really lost its appeal. StarCraft was a firm fixture of the Professional Gamers League, one of the first major esports playing leagues. Although subsequent expansions and sequel games have largely supplanted the inaugural entry at professional playing levels, you can still find StarCraft being enjoyed on the competitive scene today.
With its addictive gameplay and deceptively simple strategy, Tetris has remained a popular puzzle title for decades. It might not have the cutting-edge graphics of other games, but Tetris simplicity still draws in the crowds, with Classic Tetris World Championship remaining a celebrated fixture of the annual esports calendar.
Street Fighter may be the fighting series of choice for many video game lovers, but Tekken certainly gives it a run for its money. As with Street Fighter, Tekken first hit the arcades before migrating to home consoles. The first game in the series was released in 1994, quickly earning recognition for its fast-paced combat and eclectic cast of characters. Several games in the series continue to be played professionally, with pro-level competition especially active in Tekken’s native Japan.
6. Marvel vs. Capcom
This epic beat ’em up series has been going strong since 1996. X-Men vs. Street Fighter was the first release under the Marvel vs. Capcom banner, although further Marvel favorites were added to the roster in later games. Although newer entries like Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite are mainstays of major esports championships, older games still bring in the crowds at tournaments like the Evolution Championship Series.
Few first-person shooters command as much respect as Quake. Developed by iD software, the first game in the Quake series was released on Linux and Windows back in 1996. This classic shooter was soon ported to other consoles, including the Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn. With its absorbing atmosphere and an impressive arsenal of weapons, the original Quake has never really fallen out of favor. The game is still played competitively, with regular events at QuakeCon, a developer-run festival. It’s also been a staple of several tournaments organized by DreamHack.
Like Quake, Doom quickly amassed legions of fans across the world. Another first-person favorite from iD Software, Doom was one of the first games to establish a thriving online community. Just about every title in the main Doom series has been played competitively on the esports stage. Although Doom titles have largely fallen off the radar in recent years, you’ll still find them played competitively at annual get-togethers like QuakeCon.