The competitiveness and team-nature of sports is not limited to just stadiums or fields, it extends to the very own device you are reading this on. E-Sports is a form of competition through video games, where players all over the world compete. The field has had tremendous growth in the last five years, and in 2019 there were an estimated 458.8 million viewers of e-sports worldwide. Continue reading to discover the most popular multiplayer games in the current e-sports scene, and learn how you can start playing them during quarantine.
Pokémon Showdown! is a competitive, online fan-made simulator where players can experience the same player versus player battles featured in the traditional Nintendo Pokémon games, but with a twist. Pokémon Showdown! allows players to customize each Pokémon’s stats, such as their Effort Values, Individual Values, and Nature, in order to develop a top tier competitive team and participate in ranked battles. Pokémon Showdown! is heavily relied on by professional Pokémon players such as Wolfe Glick, the 2019 North American VGC Champion, to test out various teams and strategies prior to competing in competitive championships. For more casual players looking to be challenged, Smogon University, a community of Pokémon fans, offers both unofficial and official tournaments that often have a cash prize. The next tournament, the Grand Slam IX, will be held online on June 15, 2020.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
One of Nintendo’s most iconic fighting games, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate plays a prominent role in the e-sports industry. A compelling aspect of Smash Bros. is that it brings together several beloved characters across tens of popular franchises — the game boasts 76 Fighters, each with their own unique playstyle. For casual players, an online competitive mode is offered, where gamers may play against others around the world. In the Smash Bros. competitive scene, the game has had a history of tremendous success since the first publicized Tournament Go series in 2002 — the latest tournament was held on February 21-23. As the game increases in popularity, professional players such as ZeRo, one of the top ranked Smash Bros. players, have been able to attract immense respect from the rest of the e-sports community. The next major tournament, Super Smash Con, will be held August 6-9.
League of Legends
Created and released in October 2009 by Riot Games, League of Legends (LoL) has been the leading title in the e-sports industry for years. The game centers around two competing teams of five using “Champions,” characters with unique abilities, to try and destroy the enemy team’s base structure, the “Nexus.” LoL saw its first success in the competitive world with the Season One World Championship in 2011 and a $100,000 prize pool. Since then, the tournament has grown exponentially, attracting over 100 million viewers and featuring a $2,250,000 prize pool for the 2019 World Championship. LoL’s success has also led to the formation of professional teams, such as 100 Thieves, which have also helped with increasing the game’s popularity across the globe. The next major tournament is the Mid-Season Cup, starting on May 27th.
Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege
Released in April 2015 by Ubisoft, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege is a fast-paced, first-person shooter game that has come to dominate the e-sports scene. It is a 5v5 search-and-destroy based game that is built on team play and communication. The game has 54 “operators” or playable characters, with two more new ones announced on May 18. Operators are based off real-life Counter-Terrorism Units around the world, and can be placed into two categories: attackers and defenders. The game has had an exponential growth in the number of players recently, having tournaments in major cities like Tokyo, Las Vegas, Sydney, and Paris. Prize pools for these big tournaments often break the hundred thousand mark, with first-place teams like Spacestation Gaming winning a portion of $65,000 in the United States Nationals 2019. Furthermore, the game has had recent initiatives in raising money to combat COVID-19. The Gamers Without Borders Tournament featured various games including Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, and raised a $1.5 million charity pool that will be donated to health organizations, such as Unicef and Direct Relief.
A crossover of two independent genres, racing and soccer, Rocket League is one of the fastest-growing games in casual and professional e-sports. It was originally developed in July 2015 by Psyonix and Panic Button Games to merge the ferocity and adrenaline of fast cars with the dexterity and agility of sports. Rocket League features online competitive playlists in which players can climb the ranks, as well as unique in-game tournaments that are time-based. This multiplayer game relies heavily on communication as players have to coordinate attacks and defense across the field. Rocket League has attracted a large player base especially because of its cross-platform support and growing popularity. As a result, many professional leagues have gained a lot of attention in the media as well. The Rocket League Championship Series surpassed 100 million views on Twitch on February 8, 2020. The Summer Series tournament sign-ups are going to be released just around the corner as the Spring Series draws to a close.
Overwatch, a 6v6 team-shooter game that is set in the future, is Blizzard Entertainment’s most popular game. Overwatch refers to the global peace-keeping force in the game that saved the world. The team is composed of various “Heroes” or characters that each have a different backstory and abilities. In-game, players are able to choose among 32 Heros from the categories of Tank, Damage, and Support. The competitive scene started to kick off in 2018 with the formation of the Overwatch League, the professional-level league created and adjudicated by Blizzard Entertainment. However, more casual players can enjoy the Open Division where players of any skill level can compete. Overwatch also boasts a World Cup, in which competitors all over play for their home country, in 2019, it attracted 146,317 players worldwide. Gaining international fame and viewership early on in professional gaming, Overwatch became a milestone for e-sports. The next tournament, the Overwatch Summer League, will start on June 6, 2020.