Electronic Sports, the Competition of the Future
For most of the world, sports is one of the top forms of entertainment, with billions of dollars being spent every year on tense competitions set in massive stadiums. With the rising power and popularity of computers, it is only natural that video games would eventually rise up alongside the more traditional games of football, basketball, and tennis. While the way these games are played varies greatly, they still hold most of the common features of traditional sports: they are typically played by teams, which must work together to complete a specific goal while attempting to also stop the other team from completing the same goal.
Fighting games are one of the oldest of these "eSports", with organized, semi-professional tournaments dating back to 2002 in the EVO Championship. Games in this genera include titles like Tekken, Street Fighter, and Soul Caliber. They are usually played in a one-on-one tournament style, like the now-archaic Jousting events from medieval Europe. These games require precision, skill, and unsurpassed reflexes, as well as a thorough knowledge of the game's mechanics.
Strategy games are popular the world over and come in a variety of styles. The two most common styles are 4X, which can be turn-based or real-time, and Wargames which are almost always real-time. 4X stands for eXplore, eXploit, eXpand, eXterminate, and are centered around building a large, powerful faction, usually a historical empire, over a long period of time. Games like Civilization, Total War, and Europa Universalis are well-known examples of these. Wargames such as Starcraft are more commonly employed as eSports, with Starcraft being the most widely known example thereof.
First-person Shooters are newer to the scene of professional eSports, but the game Counterstrike: Global Offensive, which came out in August of 2012, has a global following and a yearly professional competition, which pits the best teams from across the world against each other for a prize of more than $1 million each year. While professional tournaments use their own dedicated servers, players can still competitively prepare for these tournaments using third party matchmaking services like CEVO and FACEIT.
The best-known form of Esports gaming is the Multiplayer Online Battle Arena or MOBA. MOBAs include gaming giants League of Legends which is currently the world's leading eSport, and DoTA 2, which is the direct sequel to the first MOBA and sets the standard for MOBA design. Other MOBAs that feature in eSports are SMITE, Heroes of the Storm, and Infinite Crisis. The prizes for teams competing in League of Legends championships can rise as high as $1 million for first prize, and the industry shows no signs of slowing down.