Although there is a thriving community of disabled athletes all across the world, many of whom have achieved incredible sporting feats through competitions like the Paralympics, there is also a new type of sport in town which is accessible to everyone, regardless of physical ability.
Global esports burst onto the scene early in the 21st century, quickly achieving so much more than the previous low-key iteration had managed. This brand of esports was instantly recognised as being a totally different beast to the tournaments and competitions which had quietly been taking place throughout the 80s and 90s. With the rollout of broadband and WiFi across the planet, and the increased capacity of at-home PC and console gaming, a new class of player was in the process of being created. Over the past two decades since then, esports has gradually risen in popularity and is fast outstripping the success of physical sports like football and hockey. So, let’s take a closer look at what exactly this phenomenon is, why it has become so popular, and how to get involved for yourself.
What Are eSports?
First things first, what exactly are esports? Put simply, the term refers to electronic sports, meaning competitive video gaming. Although video games have existed as a mainstream form of entertainment since the 1970s, technological innovation during the intervening years has meant that the industry has grown to incorporate greater and greater levels of brilliance. For example, if you showed Cyberpunk 2077 to a gamer from 1978 (when Space Invaders was released), it’s certain that you would blow their mind. As all forms of entertainment have moved online, the specific qualities that make up an esport have been hotly debated. For example, despite its popularity, online poker is not often referred to as an esport but rather as part of the iGaming movement, along with sports betting and other games like roulette and blackjack.
Despite the rapid rate of development, the most popular games played in professional esports tournaments tend to be AAA console and PC titles that have proven successful on the general market. These games are then played by well-trained and incredibly skilled teams in tournaments that fetch viewing figures well into the hundreds of millions. In fact, 2021 saw the first year during which esports officially became a part of the summer Olympic games. This latest move towards legitimising the industry’s classification as a sport marks an important turning point in the history of sport as a whole.
Most Popular Games Played in Pro eSports
So, what are the most popular titles in this renegade sporting category? First of all, Dota 2 comes in at the top of the pile. Although it’s technically been around since way back in 2013, it’s still the most played title in pro esports. Classified as a multiplayer battle arena game, it lends itself well to competitive play between teams and, so far, has earned tournament winners over $244.7 million in prize money. Other popular titles include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Fortnite, and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds, all of which count as FPS (first-person shooter) or battle royale type games. League of Legends is still an immensely popular game too, and is played competitively at the highest level. The titles which enjoy the most success at this level tend to be those with crisp graphics, smooth gameplay, the ability to play in teams, and worldwide availability upon release. At the moment, it seems to take several years for a game to climb the ranks and become a widely played pro title. However, this may begin to change as esports become more and more popular. Developers will begin releasing games specifically fine-tuned for this purpose which will then find themselves in the spotlight much faster than previous releases have managed.
How to Get Involved
One of the most exciting aspects of the esports industry is that literally anybody can get involved. You needn’t be a highly trained athlete or have any one level of physical ability. Instead, you must use your mind and your wits to compete on a cerebral level, as well as collaborating with your teammates in order to claim the winning spot. Whether you find it easiest to play on PC, console or even using a smartphone, it’s up to you. You might like to start out playing the most popular games which we mentioned above, but there are plenty more options out there, and further releases happening all the time. Just as with physical sports, esports is something that you can really dive into should you wish to. There are official fan clubs for the biggest teams, you can travel to watch tournaments and some competitions are even televised now. If one thing’s for certain, it’s that esports are here to stay and may represent the beginning of a whole new generation of sporting heroes.