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eSports Games: A User’s Guide To The Industry

eSports Games: A User’s Guide To The Industry

eSports is made up of a number of different games but there are a few main titles that dominate the industry. Now that you have a basic understanding of eSports games, the industry and a viable betting option, it’s time to learn what games are available to wager on. There are hundreds of options out there, but our focus today will be the top games that garner the most attention and the biggest prize pools. So, without further ado, lets dive right in.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a first-person tactical shooter and is the fourth game in the Counter-Strike franchise.  The action pits two teams against one another, one with the goal of diffusing a bomb while the other team tries to stop them. Rounds are won by either completing said objective or killing all the opposing players.

Counter-Strike is one of the veteran names in competitive gaming.  The franchise has two-decades of action, beginning with the original Counter-Strike and is still going strong today. Tournaments have been hosted regularly since 2000 with the first major going down in Dallas back in 2001.  The event was won by Ninjas in Pyjamas and offered a $150,000 prize pool.


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The eventual release of Global Offensive in 2012, along with the growing popularity of Twitch, shot the popularity of CS:GO tournaments through the roof. The Major Championships saw a bump in prize money to $250,000.

The hype surrounding this title just kept growing.

Last year, the game’s biggest tournament was the IEM Katowice Major.  How big you ask? The event was watched by over 1.2 million people and a prize pool of $1M.  So far, the total prizes awarded for CS:GO competitive gaming has surpassed $22M.

The next big event to look forward to in 2020 is the ESL One: Rio Major going down in November.  Originally scheduled for mid-March, the tournament was pushed back due to the current global health crisis. The prize pool combines the March and November events for a total of $2M up for grabs.

League of Legends

League of Legends (LOL) is right up there as one of the most well-known eSports games in the world and one of two Massive Online Battle Arena games that dominate the industry.  The other being DOTA2.


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MOBA games pit two teams against each other with each player controlling a hero character of their choosing.  These hero characters all possess unique skills that work in tandem to create power teams of complementary roles.  The goal is to raze the base of your opponent while simultaneously protecting your own home territory.

In the 11 years and 2,500+ tournaments since launch, the grand total prize money has eclipsed $85M.  Those payouts make LOL the most profitable game for professionals to compete in.  Many of those players hail from South Korea, with eight of the current top-10 earners coming from the nation.  In fact, there is just a single-player ranked in the top-25, PerkZ, who comes from a country not named South Korea or China.

League of Legends also has the distinction of being the most played PC game on the market today with an average of 8 million players daily across the globe. Not only are players flocking to the game, but fans of the game are as well.  In 2018, the LOL World Championships finals were watched by a staggering 99.6 million people. Compare that to the 102 million viewers of this year’s Super Bowl for an idea of just how popular these events are.

Its worldwide popularity has also made it the most popular game to wager on.  The excitement is the number of unique prop bets the game allows for.  Anything from kill totals, biggest streak, highest scoring player and the hero to score the final hit has odds for you to mull over.


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Upcoming events to look forward to are the LCS Summer Tournament starting in May and the Mid-Season Invitational which begins in July of 2020.

eSports Games – Fortnite

Fortnite made a huge impact in the competitive gaming scene when it launched in September of 2017.  It became a household name overnight and whether you know anything about gaming or not, it’s likely you’ve heard of Fortnite.

Fortnite is a battle royale type game that combines aspects of shooters and survival games.  The basic idea is that you are dropped into a map with 100 other players, all fighting to scavenge weapons and armor to take out the opposition. Players can fight in groups of three (squads), two (duos) or go it solo.  As the game progresses, the size of the map shrinks which gives less room to work with and really ups the action.  The last player or team, alive wins the match and gets a huge boost in points and influence.

A unique aspect of Fortnite compared to other Battle Royale eSports games is the ability to construct complex structures.  These elements can be walls, obstacles, stairs, and others to take cover from fire or gain a strategic position.

Now, many purists don’t consider Fortnite a true eSport due to the developers having the bad habit of making changes right before big events and seem uninterested in creating a truly competitive meta.  Be that as it may, you cannot ignore the fact that Fortnite events have paid out a total of $80M in rewards.  That is just in the last two and a half years or so.   The Buzz surrounding this title has died down a bit and some bad press hasn’t helped matters any.  But the eSports and streaming scenes are still red-hot money-making machines and will continue to grow as the genre does.

And grow it will.

While LOL boasts the most daily players on PC, Fortnite has outpaced them by miles.  Fortnite has the luxury of being offered on both PC and all consoles and reports around 250M active users.

eSports Games – DOTA 2

DOTA 2, or Death of the Ancients 2, is another MOBA game and League of Legends only real competitor atop the eSports gaming ladder. Developed by Steam, the same studio responsible for CS:GO, DOTA 2 tops the industry in a number of key demographics.

First and foremost, the prize money. DOTA 2 is second to none when it comes to the total prize money awarded and is the most profitable game for players to compete in. One of the reasons behind this is the worldwide popularity as compared to League of Legends.  While LOL is hugely popular in Asia, DOTA 2 is more of a globally watched title. The top-25 players right now are spread across 17 different countries, as opposed to 3 for LOL.

The other big factor in the huge prize pools is how those funds are acquired in the first place. The prize money is largely crowdsourced.  The way it works is that various in-game items may be purchased for real-world money in the Valve store.  These items come packaged in what is called a “Compendium” and help fund the largest eSports tournament on the planet.  The International. 25% of all sales of these prize packages go directly to the prize pool for each year’s championship. Sales were good enough in 2019 to amass a prize pool of $34M, bringing the all-time winnings for DOTA 2 to right around $250M.

Despite the huge prize pool, DOTA 2 does fall well short of LOL’s total player numbers.  With daily counts in the 400,000 range, or just 5% of their main competitor.

There is a tournament upcoming name the “Isolation Cup” with pros competing while in quarantine for COVID-19.  Aside from that, the next big event is ‘The International’ itself starting on August 17th. So, while we wait for online sports betting to start again, why not check out some of these great games.

Matt De Saro is a journalist and media personality specializing in sport, specifically sports betting. He has hosted podcasts and web shows since 2014 which aim to educate and inform sports bettors worldwide. Matt has created content, both written & media, for the likes of Fansided, Forbes, Sportsbook Review & YouWager. With a background in statistical analysis and a love of everything sports, he takes an outside the box approach to reporting on the sports betting industry.

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