For the Win! The Top Five eSports You Should be Following

By Jeff Francis
Top five eSports

Over the years, video games have become a huge business. Tens of millions of players fire up their consoles or computers every day to play everything from single-player rpgs to mmofps games. In fact, hit games now generate more revenue than the biggest Hollywood blockbusters. The rise of eSports is another important component in this massive surge of popularity and sales. It seems every week features another major eSports tournament where the prize pool could hit a million dollars or more. A lot of players argue about what are the top games in the eSports arena, and we thought we should throw our hat in the ring as well. Here are our top five eSports you should be following.

League of Legends
The first of our top five eSports you should be following is a no-brainer. League of Legends is the biggest online game going right now, bringing in over $1.6 billion in revenue last year and featuring over 70 million gamers a month. The free mmo has a major lock on the eSports scene due its staggering popularity, despite its longstanding reputation of having a toxic environment for newer players. Another factor in why League of Legends cracks our top five eSports is that it's popular worldwide and not just in a few regions. There are tons of interesting heroes for players to choose from, as well as a surprisingly deep lore to the game's world and characters. Plus, Riot has been working with pro teams to make the tournament scene more organized and financially rewarding for participating teams. Overall, this game had a total tournaments prize pool of over $10 million in 2016.

Dota 2
The second of our top five eSports you should be following is Dota 2. While League of Legends boasts greater player numbers, Dota 2 has the advantage of far greater monetary prizes for its pro players. No other eSports game comes close to Dota 2 in total prize pool amount as the game's various tournaments awarded over $37 million in 2016 alone. This game also features a very dedicated player base, and it is very popular in China. It too has a lot of interesting characters that players can sink their teeth into. Plus, Dota 2 has the full weight of Valve behind it, which is a tremendous bonus as Steam is the number one gaming platform in the world. Dota 2 is a reliable and popular fixture on the eSports scene, and they've even had a tournament broadcast on one of the ESPN channels.

The next entry on our list of the top five eSports you should be watching is Hearthstone. Unlike the other games on our list, Hearthstone shows that card-based action can be highly competitive and entertaining. Of course, anybody who's been a regular player of collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering already know this. Hearthstone has several built-in advantages. First is that it is based upon the World of Warcraft mmo, which almost every online gamer has had some exposure to. This brings a sense of familiarity to the game to even those who are just dipping their toe into the online card game swimming pool for the first time. The second is that the game is being backed by Blizzard, one of the titans of the online gaming industry. Its presentation allows viewers to easily follow the action, and Hearthstone ranked sixth in 2016 in total prize awards, handing out over $3.4 million to tournament winners. The major drawback to the game becoming more popular in the eSports arena is the fact that the randomness of draws means that popular players can be knocked out with far more regularity than in other eSports games. This is a knock as every eSports game needs its stars for players to follow, root for, or hate upon.

The next game on our list of the top five eSports you should be watching is Overwatch. This mmo fps is the newest game in the bunch, but it has already made a major impact, especially in light of it being buy-to-play. Overwatch has proven so popular with players that it actually unseated League of Legends as the most played game in Korean internet cafes at one point. While most of the major eSports titles are pure mobas, Overwatch is a definite blend between mobas and shooters. One of the most compelling features of the game, and why so many players love it, is that Blizzard spent a ton of resources making fully-defined characters that players can love or hate. Just think about how many male gamers were halfway in love with the spunky Tracer before the game even launched. Plus, Blizzard is throwing its considerable weight behind the game in promoting it in the eSports arena.

The last game on our top five eSports list is a personal choice in the form of SMITE. Other games may have more tournaments, players, and prize amounts, but SMITE is a breath of fresh air in the moba genre. There are several reasons why SMITE has proven compelling for its players. The first is that the action is not the standard moba view but rather an over-the-shoulder third person view that immerses the player a great deal more into the action. The second reason is that the game has built an impressive roster based upon historical gods and entities from all over the world. Most moba titles feature fantasy characters, but SMITE boasts deities taken from historical real world religions. The list of pantheons used in the game is impressive, including: Norse, Japanese, Hindu, Chinese, Roman, Egyptian, Greek, and Mayan. Why settle for playing as a powerful warrior when you can play as a god? SMITE did crack the top ten eSports titles in 2016, coming in at number ten and awarding over $1.5 million in tournament winnings.

I know that this list of the top five eSports you should be following won't be universally agreed upon. I left out some major hitters like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Call of Duty: Black Ops III. However, I do think that all of the games cited above are worthy contenders for any list of the top eSports games. Do you agree with this list or not? What games would you suggest as the top five eSports? Let us know in the comments below.


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