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Maybe you didn’t use your console for years. Or maybe even you’re not into gaming at all. In both cases you’ve probably heard already the phrase e-Sports. It is the extremely fast-growing business, which is estimated to be worth almost $1.5 billion by 2020. A massive scene has developed from within the gaming community in a recent years.

But how have it all happened and why have eSports become such a big deal? This guide will give you all the basics you need.

What is e-sport?

The term e-sports is short for “electronic sports”, which basically means a form of competition using video games. Just like in the regular sports, players can compete with friends or on the professional level.

More recently, the term is used more often to describe big-budget tournaments with sponsorships, audiences and millions of dollars in the prize pools. Fans in e-sports tournaments watch their favourite teams the same way as in the regular sports.

Are e-sports actually considered sports?

There are decades-long debates asking if e-sports should be considered as a real sports. However, since the biggest video games tournaments started to be broadcasted across the most popular sports TV networks such as ESPN, the questions seem to be more valid than ever.

Our Game | League of Legends

It’s also appropriate to be aware that it’s not the first time that the casual audience doesn’t want to acknowledge some phenomenon as a sport. Years before, the same long debates had places regarding chess and its legitimacy as a sport.

The Oxford Dictionary defines sport as:

"An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment."

Based on that, we believe it’s absolutely proper to say that e-sports should be treated as a sport. Even though the physical activities are limited, the methods of training and preparation involve the similar level of both physical and mental exertion as other sports.

Why e-sports are such a big deal?

Over the last years the e-Sports popularity soared and many companies all over the world are realising there is a lot of money that they can make from them. A rapid advancement in networking technologies and accelerating internet speed over the past decade were important factors behind the fast-paced moving sector. The barriers of entries got much lower, which gives the online games a very easy way to enjoy lag-free games and gather into communities.

Even though the first video gaming tournament took place in the 1970’s, there wasn’t much happening in this area until the popularisation of the Internet, which brought the massive amounts of players and made it very easy for them to connect and enjoy games together. The growth of e-sports players and communities also influenced game developers, who have started to invest more in both new games and features and special gaming modes for already existing titles.

Currently, because of a highly growing player and spectator base, it is estimated that e-sports will reach 500 milion fans worldwide by 2020 and will be ahead of popular sports such as basketball!

E-Sport viewership chart

The more people want to play and watch e-sports tournaments, the more companies will invest in this area by games development, organising tournaments and engaging communities. It is estimated that e-sports revenue in 2020 will reach $4.8 billion worldwide!

Another very important aspect is the soaring e-sports stars popularity. In upcoming years we can expect more and more of them moving into mainstream. This will enhance the prize levels they can reach in both tournaments and non-gaming activities. Don’t be surprised if you’ll see e-sports stars engaged in the advertising of some well-known brands, i.e. in the fashion industry - exactly like chess GrandMaster Magnues Carlsen couple of years ago.

Monetary awards for individual tournaments chart

What types of games are played as e-sports?

There are three the most popular video games genres, that are the best suited to competitive gaming and bring the biggest attention and public at the events.

  • Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA)
  • First-Person Shooter (FPS)
  • Real-Time Strategy (RTS)

Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games are mostly the teamwork, strategic games that involve some real-time action. Usually MOBA requires two teams who play against each other. In most cases their efforts are focused on defeating opponents by "killing" enemy team players or gaining an advantage by destroying or capturing their team "base." The isometric view allows players to see the most important elements on the map.

Teams are made up of a virtual characters, in most cases based on the magical reality - each player controls one character and has to work with his/her teammates in order to achieve the needed goals. The more objectives of the games players achieve, the more their characters improve by gaining experience and unique skills, enabling them to be more powerful and stay longer in the game or tournament.

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First-person shooter (FPS) games have been a very popular for decades. This genre differs from MOBA in a number of ways. Firstly, games are centered around gun combat. As the name suggest, characters are equipped with different kinds of weapons - from knives, pistols to heavy machine-guns. Secondly, players view the game from the first-person perspective, which makes the games much more dynamic and realistic. Thirdly, the aims of the games are completely focused on killing opponents or controlling specific location. Teams take turns attacking and defending and gather point by completing map or game objectives.

Real-Time Strategy (RTS) games involve a combination of resource management, base and army development as well as combat. The objective of the game is to destroy one or more opponents as quickly as possible while defending their own base. Players should build various structures that help them with development and generating resources needed to build armies.
This type of games doesn’t involve the one character that improve over time. In most cases the combats between players involve army that consists of many units. Players have to strategically decide what kind of army they need to build to explore opponents’ weaknesses and win the battle.

What are the most popular e-sport games?

DOTA 2 logo

Dota 2 is one of the most popular MOBA games released by Valve Corporation in 2013. The game is played in matches between two teams consisted of five players. Both teams occupy and defend their own base and each of the player controls a powerful “hero” that have unique set of abilities. A team wins by being the first to destroy the opposing team’s base. Dota 2 has a very active competitive scene, with teams from across the world playing professionally in various leagues and tournaments. The game also currently holds the record for the largest prize pool in e-sports history - $24,600,000 was in the pool for the teams to win during the International Championships in 2017.

League of Legends logo

League of Legends (abbreviated LoL) is the sole competitor to Dota 2 in MOBA segment. Developed by Riot Games and released in 2009, LoL has captured a dedicated player base through its free-to-play model and incredible game - in September 2016 the company estimated that there are over 100 million active players each month!

The game has was given a yearly World Championship, with the recent one bringing players to compete for nearly $5,000,000.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive logo

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (abbreviated CS:GO) is by far the most popular FPS game in the world. Released by Valve in 2012, CS:GO is the successor of Counter-strike: Source. The gameplay involves two teams playing against each other: the Terrorists and the Counter-Terrorists. Both sides aim to eliminate the other while also completing specific objectives. The Terrorists, depending on the game mode, must either plant the bomb or defend the hostages, while the Counter-Terrorists must either prevent the bomb from being planted, defuse the bomb, or rescue the hostages.
With active support from Valve and frequent updates, CS:GO is now among the biggest titles in the whole e-sports industry.

The Global Offensive professional e-sport scene consists of many tournaments hosted by both Valve and third-party organisations. There are also special events - co-sponsored tournaments, called majors, which have larger prize pools. The video below describes what are the rules and how the gameplay looks in a professional tournaments:

Counter-Strike: An esport video

The game has also one of the biggest and the most active virtual market, where players can trade rare and special weapons and equipment. Following the introduction of the Arms Deal update in August 2013, skins formed very precious good because of their rarity and other high-value factors that influenced their desirability.

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StarCraft II is a military science fiction real-time strategy game. Developed and published by Blizzard, the game is a sequel of the original StarCraft game was released in 1998 and was one of the most successful RTS games in the history.

The main goal of the game is to dominate other players by gathering useful resources, creating the most developed base, the most advanced and the strongest army and to destroy opponents’ territories. There are three species in StarCraft, brought from the original game: the Terrans - human exiles from Earth; the Zerg - a super-species of assimilated life forms, the Protoss - a technologically advanced species with vast mental powers. The StarCraft II was met with very positive reviews from critics, receiving the score of 93% from Metacritic.

StarCraft II served an important role e-sports development and promotion. The game was one of the first games to be taken serious as a “spectator sport” and brought the new, massive public to the whole segment.

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Biggest tournaments

The professional e-sports scene is growing very fast and change even faster. More and more tournaments open each year, making some of older competitions obsolete. In this highly competitive environment, there are couple of well-established tournaments that are, without hesitation, the most important during the year.

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The International is THE EVENT for everyone interested in Dota 2. Founded in 2011 by Valve Corporation, yearly event takes place in Vancouver in the middle of August and has the biggest prize pool - in this year’s edition the pool equals $24,453,043 and growing!

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League of Legends World Championship is the annual professional LoL tournament hosted by Riot Games. The competition is the most important event for the players and the culmination of each season. Founded in 2011, gathers the best teams around the world competing for the champion title and $1,000,000 main prize. In 2017, the finals were watched by 60 million people.

Where can I experience esports online?

A majority of the biggest e-sports tournaments is broadcasted through dedicated live-streaming services. Two of them are the most important - Twitch and Youtube Live Gaming. Both platforms are dedicated to e-gaming activities, covering most of the events and having strong communities within. Some of the gaming leagues also upload their previous matches to their YouTube or Vimeo channels or create other content dedicated for these platforms.

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Conclusions

Whether you agree that e-sports are a competitive, legitimate sports or not, there is no doubt that this segment will play a huge role in coming years. We hope that after reading this guide your understanding of this topic is much better and maybe you consider this type of games to be your thing. If yes, we believe that the best way to get to know the industry is to just dive in.

If you don’t yet know what game you’d like to engage with, Twitch and YouTube both have lots of content you can browse to find out which game suits you best.

And remember that there is much more into e-sports than just playing and watching games. You can start making bets on your favourite teams with an online bookmaker like OneHash. Bettors around the world are searching for new ways to make wins in sports betting – e-sports rapid popularity and growth are a perfect hit!

We recently wrote a piece dedicated to bettors who want to improve their betting skills called
5 e-Sports betting strategies that will help you maximize your profits. Check it out!