The Biggest eSports Games

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Some of the biggest traditional sports games include football, basketball and boxing.

But what are the biggest games in eSports?

Video games have not always been considered a sport until a few years ago. With the dawn of eSports, gamers are making big money going pro. 

What are the biggest games in the eSports scene? Check out this list that contains the most popular games in the eSports scene. These are games that professional players make most of their money from.

1. Dota 2

Dota 2 is a MOBA made by Valve, a sequel to the Warcraft 3 mod Defense of the Ancients. The game went into development in 2009 when Valve hired the developer of the DOTA mod, Icefrog, as lead designer. Ever since it released in 2013 as a free-to-play game, Dota 2 has remained a rival to the popular hit game, League of Legends.

Thanks to the superb competitive gameplay and its renowned name, Dota 2 became a hit and one of the most popular games on the eSports scene.

The top 3 players that have earned the most in Dota 2 are: Saahil “UNiVeRsE” Arora, Peter “ppd” Dager and Clinton “Fear” Loomis.

All of these top 3 players are part of the “Evil Geniuses” team which won The International 2015 tournament and Dota 2 Asia Championships 2015. At The International 2015 each of these players earned $1.3m, while at Dota 2 Asia Championships 2015 each of them earned a smaller sum of $256k.

The International 2015

These numbers show how big and popular Dota 2 is, with passionate fans of millions around the world.

The biggest tournaments so far have been The International 2015 and The International 2014. The International 2014 offered a crowd-funded prize pool of $10m, while The International 2015 bumped it to a staggering $18m prize pool.

“Evil Geniuses” is one of the best teams in Dota 2, who participated in 58 tournaments and have earned over $10m.

The International 2015 tournament ended with a total amount of 31 million viewers watching the matches, with over 4.5 million peak concurrent viewers.

With all these big numbers that keep getting bigger and bigger every year, Dota 2 will continue to rise and remain the king of eSports.  It will be quite difficult for any game to dethrone it, you’d have to have a really amazing, never seen before online game to pull it off.

2. League of Legends

League of Legends is a free-to-play MOBA inspired from the Warcraft 3 custom map: DOTA. Developed by Riot Games, the game released on October 27, 2009 and continues to compete with the top eSports game, Dota 2.

This is the top second game in terms of prize money and the most popular eSports game, and that’s all thanks to its fun and great gameplay, as well as being one of the first MOBA games you could play after DOTA became obsolete.

The top 3 players that have earned the most are: Lee "Faker" Sang Hyeok, Bae "Bengi" Seong Ung and Heo "PawN" Won Seok.

These Korean players have each participated in over 17 tournaments (With “Faker” participating in 29 tournaments), and each have earned over $300k.

Considering the amount of time has passed and since it released before Dota 2, the game continues to have an average of 600k daily fans still playing.

League of Legends World Championship 2015

2015 and 2014’s LoL World Championships have been the biggest so far, both offering a prize pool of $2.13m.

The top team that won 1st place and took home $1m in the last tournament is SK Telecom T1. They have went in 22 tournaments so far and have earned over $3m.

With more and more viewers every year, LoL 2015 World Championships reached an amazing amount of 334 million viewers, with an average concurrent viewership of 4.2 million.

Even if League of Legends doesn’t offer as much money as Dota 2, it still remains one of the most viewed esports games ever, and will probably continue to set all-new records every year.

3. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

You’ve all heard of Counter-Strike before and have probably played one of the games in the franchise. No doubt, it’s a classic blockbuster. Global Offensive is the 4th game in the franchise developed by Hidden Path Entertainment and published by Valve.

Considering how old the franchise itself is and how fun and popular the game is (Dust II never gets old), it’s no wonder this tactical shooter still remains popular on the eSports scene.

The top earning players are: Robin "flusha" Rönnquist, Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo and Jesper "jw" Wecksell.

Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo, the player part of SK Gaming recently won 1st place with his team at the ESL One: Cologne 2016 tournament, earning his team $500k, while “flusha” and “jw” came in 3rd place playing for Fnatic, earning $150k for their team.

ESL One: Cologne 2016

Global Offensive is played by over 500k players around the world each day.

The last tournaments hosted, ESL One: Cologne 2016 and MLG Major Championship: Columbus both offered a prize pool of $1m. Not as much as Dota 2, but hopefully Valve will give some more support in the future.

Fnatic and Ninjas in Pyjamas are the top teams that have earned over $1m, but Luminosity Gaming and SK Gaming have won the recent major tournaments. SK Gaming took 1st place on ESL One: Cologne 2016 while Luminosity Gaming won on MLG Major Championship: Columbus, both teams earning $500k.

MLG Major Championship: Columbus drew in 1.6 million peak concurrent viewers, breaking the 1.3 million record from ESL One: Cologne 2015. No info on Cologne 2016 yet, though.

Counter-Strike is continuing to be a popular shooter on the eSports scene, and while it may not have such a big prize pool as Dota 2, Valve may change that in the coming years.

4. StarCraft II

StarCraft II is an RTS, a sequel to StarCraft released in 1998 and its expansions, developed by Blizzard. This sequel was released on July 27, 2010 and featured the base game: Wings of Liberty, followed by two expansions: Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void.

It remains one of the most popular games in its genre and thanks to developers extensive support and the game’s fun, competitive gameplay, it continues to remain somewhat popular on the eSports scene.

The top 3 RTS players of StarCraft 2 are: Jang "MC" Min Chul, Lee "Life" Seung Hyun and Kim "sOs" Yoo Jin.

Jang “MC” Min Chul participated in 108 tournaments and has earned over $500k, while Lee and Kim have earned over $400k.

It isn’t as popular as the rest of the games, it is still a hot game in esports and the matches are exciting to watch.

WCS 2015 Global Finals: Kim "sOs" Yoo Jin holding the glorious trophy.

The WCS (World Championship Series) Global Finals are the biggest tournaments for StarCraft 2, each having a prize pool of $250k.

Team Liquid is the top team that has joined 408 tournaments and earned over $1m. 

WCS 2014 Global Finals had a peak of 155k viewers while the 2015 one had 142k peak viewers.

Obviously the numbers show StarCraft 2 isn’t as big as the rest of the games. This isn’t surprising considering it’s a real-time-strategy game. Who knows if it will ever gather the amount of viewers like the rest of the games have.

5. Hearthstone

Hearthstone is a free-to-play card game released on March 11, 2014 and developed by Blizzard.

There have been tournaments hosted around the world ever since its release, from Blizzard and popular esports organizations such as MLG and ESL.

The top Hearthstone players are: James "Firebat" Kostesich, Thijs "Thijs" Molendijk, Wang "Tiddler Celestial" Xieyu and Jeffrey "Trump" Shih.

James “Firebat” has earned over $200k and participated in 31 tournaments, with his most notable one being BlizzCon 2014 where he took 1st place and earned $100k. Thijs and Wang have earned over $100k, with Thijs taking 4nd place on BlizzCon 2015 and Wang taking 2nd place on BlizzCon 2014. Jeffrey “Trump” is a top North American Hearthstone competitor, who used to play StarCraft II for Team Legion and Vega Squadron. He now plays for Team SoloMid and has one of the most popular Hearthstrone streams on Twitch.

Hearthstone has gotten huge. After only 2 years, it already has more than 40 million players.

BlizzCon 2015

The biggest tournaments were the ones hosted at BlizzCon which have a prize pool of $250k.

Team Archon is at the top here. They have earned over $300k and participated in 58 tournaments, with the most known one being BlizzCon World Championships 2014 where they won $100k.

BlizzCon 2014 had more than 132k concurrent viewers. There is no info if BlizzCon 2015 broke this record.

Hearthstone got quickly popular, and with the amount of players there are tournaments are bound to get popular with bigger prizes sooner or later.

6. Overwatch

Overwatch is a first-person shooter and Blizzard’s first new intellectual property in 20 years. You get to choose from a variety of heroes, each with their own roles and special abilities. The game released on May 24, 2016 but some tournaments have already been hosted during the beta, giving a total of $30k.

While Overwatch is still fairly new, it has the potential to grow to be a big game on the eSports scene thanks to its team-based gameplay.

The top 3 players that have made the most money are: Sebastian "chipshajen" Widlund, Christian "cocco" Jonsson and Jonathan "HarryHook" Rua.

All of these players are part of team “EnVyUs”, who recently won the OG Invitational, earning themselves $2.5k for each player.

The player base is pretty huge considering its a new game. A year hasn’t even passed and Overwatch already has over 10 million players.

OG Invitational

Overwatch’s biggest tournament was the OG Invitational, which offered a prize pool of $25k.

“EnVyUs” has so far been the best team that took 1st place on recent tournaments, including the OG Invitational where they got $15k.

There isn’t any info on how many viewers the OG Invitational had, but considering Overwatch is still new it might not be a lot.

Overwatch may grow to be a big first-person shooter in the eSports scene, but that’s not sure yet. There’s been complaints that while the game is fun to play, it is “boring to watch”. Looks like Blizzard will have to change some things to the tournaments to make them more interesting.

7. Street Fighter V

Street Fighter 5 is a fighting game that released on February 16, 2016. The fighters are back and better than ever before, this time with much better visuals thanks to the Unreal Engine 4.

The series has always had some popularity on the competitive eSports scene, and hopefully Street Fighter continues to become more and more popular in the esports scene.

The top 3 players that have earned the most are: Lee "Infiltration" Sun Woo, Hajime "Tokido" Taniguchi and Justin "Justin Wong" Wong.

Lee "Infiltration" won this year’s Final Round 19 earning $13,126, while Hajime “Tokido” took 1st place on the CEO 2016 tournament and earned $12,022. Justin Wong is known to make comebacks in impossible situations. He recently won 1st place at Combo Breaker 2016 and earned $3.2k.

The player base isn’t that big compared to some other games. At launch it had an average of 5k players daily, but now has lowered to 1k.

Final Round 19

Final Round 19 was the largest tournament so far, offering a prize pool of $25,210.

Evil Geniuses is the biggest team so far, who have earned over $15k on this game, with their most notable win being the recent Combo Breaker 2016 tournament where they earned $3.2k thanks to Justin Wong.

There’s no info on how many viewers the tournaments had, and since the game released this year it probably didn’t have too much.

It’s unsure whether Street Fighter V will grow in popularity or not. Capcom will have to support the esports scene if they want to see it grow.

8. Halo 5: Guardians

Halo 5: Guardians is a first-person shooter Xbox One exclusive released on October 27, 2015.

Developed by 343 Industries and published by Microsoft, Halo is back once again with the good ol’ gameplay, ready to take on the competitive eSports scene.

The top 3 Halo players that have took home the most money are: Bradley "Frosty" Bergstrom, Tony "Lethul" Campbell and Mathew "Royal 2" Fiorante.

All of these players are part of the “Counter Logic Gaming” team, who won the Halo World Championship 2016. The team won $1m, with each player earning $250k.

There’s no exact info on how big the player base is, but the developers have claimed that “Halo 5 has had the highest monthly active players for a Halo title since Halo 3.”

Halo World Championship 2016

Halo World Championship 2016 was the biggest tournament so far, offering a prize pool of $2.5m thanks to crowd-funding support.

“Counter Logic Gaming” is the best team so far. They’ve earned $1m by taking over 1st place in 2016's Halo World Championship.

The tournament had nearly 100k concurrent viewers watching the livestream which was the 2nd most viewed livestream that day on Twitch.

Halo 5 is off to a great start. If the developers continue to make the tournaments crowd-funded like Dota 2 does and offer more and more updates then we’ll probably see lots more of the game on the competitive scene in the coming years.

9. Call of Duty

The Call of Duty Championship is a yearly tournament that offers a prize pool of $1m. Hosted by Activision, each year offers a different Call of Duty game to compete in.

The top 3 competitive Call of Duty players that have made the most money are: Dillon "Attach" Price, James "Clayster" Eubanks and Jordan "JKap" Kaplan.

All of these players won $100k each on last year’s Call of Duty Championship, playing on the “Denial eSports” team.

Black Ops III, according to Steam Charts, has an average of 6k players daily, while Advanced Warfare lost most of its players due to Black Ops III replacing it on the competitive scene. The console versions probably have much more.

Call of Duty Championship 2015

The biggest tournament so far was the 2015 Call of Duty Championship, which offered a prize pool of $1m.

“Denial eSports” is the best team so far, winning the 2015 Call of Duty Championship and a nice sum of $400k.

Last year’s Championship had an average of 60k-80k concurrent viewers. It’s not as much compared to games like Dota 2 or League of Legends, but Activision is sure to provide more support and get more and more viewers each year.

Overall, if the Call of Duty Championship gains enough support, Activision is sure to grow their game and make it even more popular each year.

10. Smite

Smite is a free-to-play third-person MOBA that released on March 25, 2014. In this game developed by Hi-Rez Studios, you get to play from one of many mythological gods in a MOBA style arena.

This game got popular really fast on the competitive eSports scene thanks to its fresh new take on the MOBA genre.

The top 3 Smite players that have earned the most are: Andrew "Andinster" Woodward, John "BaRRaCCuDDa" Salter and Brett "MLCst3alth" Felley.

All of these players have participated in 11 tournaments so far and were part of the Cognitive Prime team when they won 1st place in the Smite World Championship 2015 and earned $261k each.

Player base has lowered since its release. There aren’t any new exact numbers, but Steam Charts shows it has an average of 8k players daily.

Smite World Championship 2015

The biggest tournament was the Smite World Championship 2015, which offered a prize pool of $2.6m.

Cognitive Prime (or “COGnitive Gaming”) is the top team that participated in 10 tournaments and have earned over $1.8m. They acquired 1st place at Smite World Championship 2015 where they earned $1.3m.

Smite World Championship 2015 had the largest amount of viewers, with peak of  80k concurrent viewers and over 2 million daily unique viewers.

It’s not sure how well Smite will progress over the next few years, as this year the prize pool was $1m, which is $1.6m lower than 2015’s World Championship.

Will the game get a massive surge of popularity next year, or will it continue to lower and die out?

11. World of Tanks

World of Tanks is a free-to-play action MMO where 2 teams go out on a battlefield and fight in their tanks.

Published and developed by Wargaming, the game made its debut as an eSports game at the World Cyber Games 2012 tournament.

The top 3 players are: Kirill "Kirilloid" Ponomarev, Dmytro "SL1DE" Frishman and Maxim "Inspirer" Mazein.

Each of these players earned $18,750 when they took 1st place at the WGL Grand Finals 2016 playing for the “Natus Vincere” team.

It’s not sure how many players the game still has nowadays, but back in 2014 it had over 1.1m concurrent players on the Russian server cluster.

The biggest tournament was this years “WGL The Grand Finals 2016” which offered a prize pool of $300k.

“Natus Vincere” is the top team here, who have participated in 12 tournaments and won 1st place at WGL Grand Finals 2016 where they went home with a decent amount of $150k.

WGL The Grand Finals 2015

WGL The Grand Finals 2015 had a peak of 120k concurrent viewers, but there doesn’t seem to be any info for 2016 though.

World of Tanks may continue to rise each year, but if the player base lowers then that may not be the case.

There’s a lot more games that aspire to become popular in the eSports scene. Lots of new games come out with the intention to be competitive eSports title. Will these games continue to rise and become bigger, or will they fall? Perhaps new games will replace them. You never know, it’s an industry full of competition.

We might see some new exciting games in the future, (like Quake Champions), or continue to see the same ones on this list.


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