Electronic sports, or eSports for short, is a term used for any number of different multi-player video game competitions. Due to the incredible popularity of many types of these video games, some tournaments actually offer significant prize money for the top finishers. There are even a growing number of professional players and teams engaged in these competitions.
Another interesting fact about eSports is that these tournaments are now being recognized by the video game manufacturers and creators themselves. In fact, these developers are even starting to build features into their games in an effort to facilitate these types of competitions. With that being said, here is a rundown of some of the biggest money tournaments in eSports today.
Defense of the Ancients Warcraft III is the eSports game that right now commands the largest money tournaments. It is a multi-player online battle arena video game, commonly recognized as one of the more difficult games to master. It was released in 2013 and commands a large amount of popularity.
Dota 2 is played in matches with two teams of five players each. The teams each occupy a stronghold at a corner of the map that contains a building called the ‘ancient.’ The opposing team must destroy this building in order to win the match. Along the way, each player controls a character called a ‘hero’ with the focus on leveling up, collecting gold, and acquiring other items…in addition to fighting against the other team’s players.
This is also the most actively played game on the Steam network, with daily peaks of more than 800,000 players. It does have a fairly steep learning curve and the player community (and forums) can take some getting used to. All of that aside, a strong player can make some decent money playing in tournaments. As one of the most popular games, it also has the richest and largest tournament prize money.
League Of Legends:
A multi-player online battle arena video game developed by Riot Games, League of Legends is another incredibly popular eSports tournament game. Interestingly enough it was also inspired by the Defense of the Ancients mod for Warcraft III. Players start off with a fairly weak ‘champion,’ progressing by accumulating gold and experience as they fight the other team. The ultimate goal is to destroy the opposing team’s nexus, a building surrounded by defensive structures.
While it was well received upon its release in 2009, League of Legends has grown tremendously in popularity since. By July 2012, it was the most played eSports game in North America and Europe in terms of hours played. As of January 2014, over 67 million people play at least monthly, 27 million play daily, and up to 7.5 million during peak hours.
There are huge real money tournaments designed for this one as well. The creator, Riot Games, actually organizes a LOL Championship Series, consisting of 10 professional teams in each continent. There are also regional competitions in China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. The World Championship (in 2013) had a grand prize of $1 million and the 2014 event had the fifth largest prize pool in eSports history, with $2.3 million.
A military science fiction real-time strategy video game, Starcraft was developed by Blizzard Entertainment and released in 1998. This also makes it one of the longest running games in its category. There are several versions, playable on both a PC and Nintendo game systems.
Starcraft has received high praise in many areas. Some experts consider it to be the most important video games ever created for having a very compelling story line and pioneering unique factions in real-time strategy game play. It is particularly popular in South Korea, with many professional competitions and eSports players capable of earning sponsorship and televised tournaments with large real-money prize pools.
The compelling story does make this interesting, with the game being set in the 25th century. It revolves around three species fighting for dominance in a distant part of the Milky Way galaxy. The Terrans are humans exiled from earth (and capable of adapting to any situation), the Zerg is a race of insectoid aliens seeking genetic perfection and obsessed with assimilating other races, the Protoss are a humanoid species with advanced technology and psionic abilities trying to save themselves from the Zerg.
This is a first person shooter game developed by Valve Corporation in 1999 and 2000. Since this time, the game has spawned a franchise, with a number of different modules and adaptations. It is set in various locations around the globe, with players assuming the role of members of combating teams including terrorists and counter-terrorists.
In terms of game play, there are several ways of achieving victory. A player may either achieve the map’s objectives or killing all the enemy combatants. Currency is also earned at the end of each round. This can then be used to customize your arsenal of weapons.
As one of the most popular eSports games, this franchise has sold over 25 million units. There are also a number of large prize money tournaments and competitions.
Although several of the biggest money tournaments in eSports today are based off the Warcraft series, you can still play Warcraft III directly in a variety of tournaments, with huge prize money available. This one, known also as Reign of Chaos, is the second sequel to the original version, created by Blizzard Entertainment and released in 2002.
The game has both single and multi-player modes, giving it a lot of flexibility. There are four races which can be played by a single player, in a fashion very similar to that of the Starcraft games. It has also proven to be a best seller, with over one million units sold during its very first month. At least six different gaming publications have given this one the Game of the Year award for 2002, as well.
A newer third person action multi-player online battle arena game released in 2014, Smite has already gained a rather large following. This includes a number of tournaments with prize pools already in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. It can be played on either your PC (Microsoft Windows) or the Xbox One.
As far as the actual game play, there are a number of different modules which can be used. However, the basic gist of the game is players take on a character that is some mythological figure and then engage in arena combat against other player-controlled gods and non-player controlled minions.
The first Smite World Championship was held in January 2015 in Atlanta, GA. Teams from North and South America, Europe, and China participated. The prize pool was estimated to be a total of $2.6 million, placing it as the third highest in eSports history at the time. The team called Cognitive Prime, from North America, captured the title and the first prize, worth a reported $1.3 million.