The Greatest Esports Games in a Decade
January 13, 2021, by Rakesh Naik
The decade 2010-20 can be attributed to the immense growth of esports as a spectator sport. A fun activity in a high school basement has now turned into a billion-dollar industry, beating its counterparts like traditional sports, movie industry and the music industry. What makes it even more interesting is the fact that esports was one of the few industries to thrive during the lockdown situation all around the world. The ease of accessibility and the mass appeal has drawn more than 500 million dedicated viewers for esports across the globe. The number saw a 12% YoY growth and is projecting a 10% increase in 2023 according to games and analytics company Newzoo’s report.
Technological advancements spearheaded the growth of esports, from arcades to PCs to consoles and now smartphones. Technological advances continued to move the industry forward, and that’s when the games, the fundamental element of the industry, started getting bigger and better in terms of quality, immersive experience and engagement.
And that is what we will be looking at today, the best esports titles of the past decade and how much they have helped to bring money into the market apart from the tournaments and sponsorships and licensed partnerships among other revenue generators.
League of Legends
The game that single-handedly dominated the year-end statistics of performance will undoubtedly make it to the top of our list of the undisputed games. The Riot Games title made it to the market in 2009 and since then LoL not only grew as a mere form of entertainment but also as a money-making device owing to its presence in eSports. The basic premise of the game is to destroy the opposing team’s nexus – a protected structure located within the enemy’s base – just your typical MOBA. The game generates revenue from the in-game purchases made for skins, champions and icons. With a player base of around 115 million, LoL stands tall as the most popular title among all the other titles. Adding on to the statistics will be the MAU, which is yet another mammoth figure of more than a hundred million. And by 2021, the number of weekly hours of content going on Twitch rose to 23.4 mn. Korea holds 24.9% of the LoL player base, the largest of all regions. League of Legends gives out total prize money of 74 million USD across 2400 events on a yearly basis.
The OG of esports titles in the last decade is right here at the second spot. Defence of the Ancients 2 came out in 2011. Dota 2 is extremely famous for its strategy-based gameplay. Although Dota 2 has not changed the only map in it, each game creates a new scenario. Players in the game act according to a new strategy each game requires. The large hero pool also keeps the players involved in the game. A player can play one hero out of more than 100 heroes available in-game. With this many details with each thing, the game becomes more interesting and develops an urge to master it. A revamped Dota was what people have been waiting for all this while. The launch of the game was followed by the first-ever The International, world’s biggest esports tournament without a doubt. With prize pools crossing 30-35 million USD, Dota 2 has turned the tables on player earnings in esports. The back-to-back TI champs OG had the highest-earning players alongside sporting greats like Tiger Woods and Novak Djokovic. The game also became the most-watched title in the 3rd Quarter of 2020, beating League of Legends and CS:GO with 36.5% audience engagement, the highest among all the titles.
The list is always incomplete without the most famous FPS title in the history of esports, Counter Strike: Global Offensive. The game probably has the simplest scenarios to compete in. You have the two factions, terrorists and anti-terrorists, the T side will try to eliminate all CT side members (and vice versa), OR, will try to plant a bomb that is for the CT side diffuse. Factions get switched at half time and you win the most rounds from a total of 30 rounds to win the game. Even though the crux is simpler than many games, the gameplay is much deeper than what meets the bare eye. All of the 7 maps have unique locations, so you can use different strategies in them. Each weapon is unique, so you should learn which gun to pick with the limited in-game money and how to shoot nicely with it. Team communication, proper usage of grenades, employing deceiving actions on the maps and attitudes to the economy plus many other aspects make CS:GO one of the deepest gaming experiences over there. Not to stray away from the recent developments where Valorant has disrupted the market for CS:GO and for the first time in years, Valve witnessed the exit of more than 200 professional CS:GO players who made their way to Valorant.
What would it look like to merge FPS and MOBA into a single game? That is what Overwatch is. Overwatch is a first-person shooter that was released in 2016 by Blizzard Entertainment. Overwatch is a “hero” shooter, where each player plays as a different hero that has a specific style of attack and ability. There are three types of heroes, a tank hero that can absorb damage and distract the enemy, a damage hero that can deal most of the damage, and support heroes that heal and assist in defence or attack. The Overwatch League made it to the esports circuit in 2018 with a massive 3.5 million USD, highest for the game at that time, which then again got raised to 5 million USD. Franchises cropped up and the league flourished with 1.1 million peak viewers for the OWL Grand Finals 2018. Overwatch streams on Twitch will always have a minimum of 30,000 viewers at any given point of time, this pretty much shows the popularity of a title like Overwatch making it big in the West.
The title was released in 2017 and that really kicked off mobile esports in many parts of the world. Developed by Krafton and published by Tencent Games, PUBG Mobile kicked off a wave of organised mobile esports that shaped the markets of India and many other South Asian and South-East Asian countries. Primarily a battle royale mode where a 100 player lobby is made and each individual or team have to survive till the playable area in the selected map comes to its final circle. Survival is the key here. PUBG Mobile was one of the few games that sparked the social aspect of mobile esports. It was such a great opportunity for gamers to connect and grow as a community. As smartphone prices went down and cheap flagships and flagships killers thronged the market, there was made a feasible atmosphere for mobile esports to thrive despite of the lower economies in those regions. With more than 50 million active users every month, PUBG Mobile can be declared THE TOP MOBILE ESPORTS TITLE till date. A robust esports roadmap and a 14 million USD prize pool allotted for the year 2021 has boosted the community with more opportunities to make a name for themselves.