Esports Games » What are the top titles in the esports industry?

Esports is a growing industry, but too often all esports games are bundled together in discussion. A lot of media and analysis likes to refer to esports games as one big mass, an amalgamation of every top title out there. There are plenty of games being played competitively at the moment, each with its own nuances. You have competitive fighting games, shooters, strategy… even the top mobile esports titles manage to bring in impressive crowds.  The top esports games are about as diverse as the wide variety of traditional sports.

Among the main games that are played competitively, you can find shooters, strategy games, and even competitive fighting games. If you’re looking for a new sport to follow or you’re curious which games are the most popular competitive games, these are the biggest ones out there at the moment. They each have large ongoing competitive scenes, with big player bases and even bigger numbers of fans out there. Each has its own appeal, but they’re unified in offering players a game that rewards deep skill and strategy.

The Top Esports Games

1. League of Legends

League of Legends is one of the biggest and most influential esports games, so big it actually even got a Simpsons parody episode. It is a Battle Arena game that pits teams of players against each other as different champions. The game began as a Mod for Warcraft III, one of many titles to come out of that game. It has only grown in popularity from there, spawning a wide universe of its own.

League of Legends is like a few others on this list in its appeal. The team structure of the game allows fans to root for their favourite side and makes following the entire sport a lot more enjoyable. The game itself is deep and layered, with complex strategy at work in every game. League Championship Series’ run around the world, with tiers commentating to rise up and enter the worldwide events.

League of Legends has been the most-watched esports game, so in terms of fans following it is definitely one of the top games. While other games like DOTA 2 are fast approaching those numbers, League of Legends looks set to hold onto its top spot for quite a while longer.

League of legends gameplay esports games

© Riot Games

2. CS:GO

CS:GO is one of the top esports games and probably the top example of the competitive first-person shooter. These game titles have dominated online play for a couple of generations of games now. However, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has really captured the interest of competitive players in a way that other shooters haven’t managed yet. The game has been played competitively for some time.

The competitive side of CS:GO is different from playing a strategy game, but it rewards tactics and skill in just the same way. The competitive events are a group of third-party organized leagues, which typically culminate in bigger ticket events that are part-way organized by Valve, with bigger prize pools at stake to match. CS:GO’s large following hasn’t always made it smooth sailing though. The game holds the important title of being the first to invoke a large-scale match-fixing scandal. This is an unfortunate problem and one that esports organizers tend to come down on pretty hard.

CS:GO has a lot of competition from other shooters. However, the title’s deep gameplay and commitment to the core mechanics of the genre make it one of the best esports games to follow competitively.

csgo gameplay esports games

© Valve Corporation

3. DOTA 2

DOTA 2 is another battle arena game in the same vein as League of legends. Just like League of Legends, it began life as a mod for the popular Warcraft III, and eventually snowballed out into its own juggernaut of a game.

DOTA 2 offers a complex strategy and different heroes to play. Two teams of five players compete against each other in matches, winning by destroying the other’s team ‘Ancient’ structure within their base. (DOTA stands for Defence of the Ancients)

Valve built up DOTA 2 as an esports game through hosting invitations of the original mod’s top players. This helped to ease the transition into the actual DOTA 2, which itself has a huge competitive scene now running.  Since 2013, the prize pool for large events has even been crowdfunded from within the game itself, with 25% of sales of a Battle Pass going towards the prize pool.

That this approach yields such high amounts is a testament to how beloved DOTA 2 is among its followers and fans. The game has become one of the highest paying and most-watched esports games.

dota 2 gameplay esports games

© Valve Corporation

4. Overwatch

Overwatch is one of the youngest titles on this list of top esports games, but no less accomplished. Overwatch is a hero shooter that has teams play as various characters in a first-person shooter format. What it makes it different is the array of cast members. The heroes each have their own powers, movement styles, weapons, and even hitboxes can vary dramatically. This makes building a team of players with corresponding heroes an ever-evolving puzzle.

Overwatch has shot to popularity and now has events with considerably greater attendance than most major sports. The game is even due to a sequel soon, though how that will manage to not split the competitive community remains to be seen.

Overwatch might be a little younger than the evolved-mod games that occupy the top spots, but it is rapidly growing its following and doesn’t look set to lose its status as one of the top esports games anytime soon.

overwatch gameplay esports games

© Blizzard Entertainment

5. StarCraft

StarCraft is one of the oldest games to remain quite this popular as an esports title. It was released in 1998. However, it is the adaptable PC version of the game that is played competitively, not the bizarre Nintendo 64 incarnation.

StarCraft is a real-time strategy game. This places the emphasis on split-second decisions, well thought out strategy, and keeping a cool head under pressure. Its competitive scene has become enormous and the barrier of entry to playing on a serious level is very high and even the smallest mechanics have been mastered.

Remaining interesting for 22 years is quite impressive for a game. StarCraft’s deep mechanics have played a big role in this. The game has been remade as StarCraft: Remastered in recent years, a package that kept everything about the game, its mechanics, and anything affecting gameplay, identical to the original while updating the visuals. This was even followed up by a cartoonish version; StarCraft: Cartooned.

Players are still finding new and unique ways to get ahead in StarCraft, and it will likely remain one of the top esports games for a while longer.

starcraft gameplay esports games

© Blizzard Entertainment

Read also: Are Esports Dying?