We cover a lot of online and technical subjects here and there is a very good chance that you already know about – or have at least heard of – esports. But we have found that the term is sometimes used incorrectly and it is a subject that people think they know about when that might not be the case.
The popularity of esports has definitely grown remarkably in the last few years and much of that wider attention has been because of the betting opportunities for fans. If you read a BetUS sportsbook review, for example, there will be a mention of esports these days, alongside the more traditional sports. People want to know about esports – and not just the usual gaming demographic.
So, we thought we would put together this guide to esports for those of you unsure of what it’s all about, to gamers who have not yet made the move to events and online betting. Read on to discover everything you need to know about esports and how it is making its presence felt in the sports world.
What is Esports?
We feel as if the term “esports” can be a little confusing. It suggests that it might be something that only pro or elite gamers compete in. Although there is obviously that element to esports, for us, the term covers the types of games that can be played competitively – by individuals or by teams.
The big tournaments can rival the really big sports events when it comes to online ratings. But the esports themselves are just the games themselves. The competitive element is the most important here. Whether it is you and your friends, or the best players in the world, it is the competition that defines esports.
A Short History
Competitive gaming has been around since the 1970s. Marketing teams for the big games of the time would organize events to find the best players – usually for some kind of cash prize. This can be regarded as the genesis of esports, even if the term itself was still a long way off from appearing.
Gaming competitions continued being popular but it was the 1990s – and the advent of the internet – when everything changed. With increased connectedness, gamers could play against each other remotely. The events became bigger as we moved into the 2000s and sponsorship money brought more money into the sector.
Esports further evolved when the betting companies started offering odds on events – especially during the COVID pandemic. Now there has been talk of esports becoming more popular than traditional sports on these online sportsbooks.
Types of Games
Esports can generally be divided into four different types. Although there are also popular titles that either replicate traditional sports or emulate them – like FIFA and Rocket League. Fighting games are the most straightforward and modern events are more like the original competitions of the 1970s where it is a case of best person wins.
But many esports titles are more complex than just fighting. First-person shooters (FPSs) take the action up a notch by offering gamers to use technical ability, sometimes as part of a team, while multi-player online battle arenas (MOBAs) also introduce an element of strategy. Real-time strategy (RTS) games, on the other hand, bring the strategy to the forefront and can be very complex. These are not for the faint-hearted, or for absolute beginners.
League of Legends
We thought we would profile three of the big esports that regularly attract huge viewership online, as well as providing pro gamers a way to make a living from what they love. League of Legends (LoL) is a MOBA in which two teams of five players compete to destroy their opponent’s base.
There are three separate arenas and skillsets needed during a typical game and that means that players must work as a team, but also negotiate and strategize to win the game. LoL is probably the biggest esport out there and the World Championship draws in millions of viewers and has even been aired on traditional sports channel, ESPN.
Another one of the very popular MOBAs, Dota 2 is very similar in its basic gamely to League of Legends. Again, two teams of five battle each other to destroy each other’s base. The players choose their characters, which all have their own skillsets, and the strategy and shooting talent decide who wins the game.
As the name suggests, this is actually a sequel to a title that pretty much invented MOBAs. That was more of a niche game though and it was the success of that title that attracted Valve’s involvement and the development of what has become an esports staple. The International, the world championships of Dota 2, is the pinnacle of esports.
This esport is actually just the latest incarnation of the popular Counter-Strike franchise but has become one of the most popular titles for gamers who particularly enjoy first-person shooters. It is a team game, once again, though. The players take the roles of terrorists or counter-terrorists, battling to detonate or stop the detonation of a bomb.
An individual game of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is made up of a number of maps that all promote different skillsets and modes of play. The games are incredibly demanding of the competitors and millions of fans watch streamed events. As with some of the other esports titles, there is now a pro league for the very best gamers.
The Rise of Esports
Since streaming platforms, such as Twitch, started showing esports online, there has been a huge increase in the gaming community and the popularity of the games and the players. This doesn’t seem like something that will change any time soon, as even more money pours into the sector in the form of sponsorship and prize money.
Esports has also done a lot to change the stereotypical image of gamers. Being treated as a traditional sport, the big events attract a diverse audience that has grown up with gaming. One thing is for sure – the world of esports is only going to get bigger.