This booming, multi-million-dollar industry continues to wow the public. Games may come and go, but the most popular continually show exponential growth.
Top of the pops again is DOTA 2. Defence of the Ancients: All-Stars is commonly known as DotA: All-Stars, or just DotA.
From Valve Corporation, this multiplayer online battle arena is a stand-alone sequel to WarCraft III. Development started in 2009 by the lead designer at Valve, and later released as free-to-play on Stream. It is in direct competition to League of Legends (LOL) and, with waning popularity, Heroes of Newerth.
With an astounding $91,324,552 in prize money, which is spread over 654 tournaments, there are 1709 competing players. Prize pools, raised by crowd-funding can reach in excess of $1 million. Valve’s Dota2 annual tournament, The International, features all the best players competing for a crowd-funded multi-million-dollar cash prize pool. Nicknamed T15, this tournament culminated in awarding over $18 million. Not bad for a few days’ work.
In a major announcement in mid-2015, Valve disclosed that Dota 2 was porting to the Source 2 engine. This was a beta, opt-in update, and christened Dota 2 Reborn. Take note that there is certainly nothing boring or modest about any of the titles in the top contenders. With a brand-new user interface framework design, this release replaced the Source engine with Source 2 – and thus the first Source 2 game was launched. The game client was officially launched in September 2015.
LEAGUE OF LEGENDS
Coming in hot on the heels of Dota 2, League of Legends, affectionately known as LOL, is a strategy game played in real-time. A product of Riot Games, and inspired by Dota 2, this game was launched to the public in October 2009.
A prize pool of $36,713,341, with 4335 players competing in 1773 tournaments, these prizes are spectacularly less than Dota 2. And the reasons for this are below.
Played by 2 even-numbered teams of Champions called 3v3 or 5v5, they start on opposing ends of a map, dramatically named the Spawning Pool, with each one being close to their own area called the Nexus. To win the match, they must try to destroy the other team’s Nexus, by working through a series of Turrets, which mainly border a Lane. Levels are then gained by killing the opponent’s champions and minions, which are NPCs that spawn constantly and attack the opposite team. Throw in some neutral monsters for good measure, which must also be destroyed, players are awarded gold upon completing their objectives, which then may be used to purchase items.
Riot Games host the League of Legends Championship Series, with 20 teams competing, equally split between Europe and North America, twice a year. They adopt the unique approach of sustaining the competition by paying players a salary, instead of increasing the prize pool themselves, or by crowd-funding. Thus, their prize pools are smaller but still substantial.
COUNTER-STRIKE: GLOBAL OFFENSIVE
Often shortened to CS:GO, this is Valve Corporation’s second game, in conjunction with Hidden Path Entertainment. This first-person shooter tactical game is the fourth developed in the series
Pitting 2 teams against each other; terrorists v counter-terrorist, in a sequence of rounds, the winning team has either eliminated the conflicting team or has completed the objective of the mission.
6385 players compete annually in 2022 tournaments to win part of the $25,580,438 prize pool.
After receiving heavy criticism in its first year, the hype died down when players swapped back to the previous version of the game. However, 60 updates to the new version convinced them to return to this newer, improved product.
Fielding heavy judgment regarding the supposedly tight-fisted amounts of prize money of just $250,000 capped, caused mainly by Valve’s superior commitment to Dota2, crowd-funding increased the pool. In March 2016 CS:GO awarded $1 million to their tournament at the MLG Major Championship.
The 2016 eSports Industry Awards for eSports Game of the Year went to CS:GO.
The game is most popular in the European countries, with Sweden fielding the best teams.
StarCraft II, or familiarly known as SC2, is a strategy-based military science fiction game, played in real-time. Developed by Blizzard Entertainment for MS Windows and Mac OS X, it is the natural progression to StarCraft, which won various video game awards in 1998.
Released in July 2010, the game is divided into three installments. Firstly, Wings of Liberty, the base game, followed by Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void expansion packs.
With 3970 annual tournaments, $21,222,033 is awarded to 1599 players, mainly based in Korea. There have been “foreigners” going head-to-head against the Koreans, with many of the older WarCraft III and Command and Conquer players transitioning to the new game.
This futuristic game, set in 26th century way out in space, where three species compete. The Terrans, human exiles; the Zerg, a superspecies; and lastly, the Protoss with their superior mental powers.
Blizzard has created its own league for this game, which is divided between three separate regions in the world. Each region is allocated WCS points, and the top 16 players qualify for the Global Finals at Blizzcon, with it $250,00 cash prize.
Often referred to as Half-Life: Counter-Strike or Counter-Strike 1.6, this is the original Valve Corporation’s first-shooter, tactical game inspired by a Half-Life mod. April 2000 saw the release of the first beta version to the public, with the full release happening in November 2000.
Featuring 572 tournaments annually, the 2587 players compete for the prize pool of $10,765,912.
Counter-terrorists oppose terrorists, each round won by wiping out the opposite force or completing the assignment goal.
Popular with competitors around the globe, Europe dominates, with the Swedes topping the polls.