The Asian esports market is one of the world’s most dynamic and exciting, although it is not necessarily aligned with other regions in terms of the titles that are most popular amongst the general playerbase or the top pros.
To bring you up to speed, here is a look at the games which are defining esports in Asia at the moment and what it is that makes them so successful.
League of Legends
Part of the reason that League of Legends is such a dominant esport in Asia is that it is especially favored by Chinese audiences, with 39 percent of players from this highly populous nation pegging this MOBA as their top competitive title to play and stream alike.
LoL is also a huge hit in South Korea, which is a particularly lucrative market for the esports industry given the prevalence of spectator events involving flagship games like this, supplementing the already booming streaming sector.
Interestingly enough Japan is less enamored by LoL, with other experiences taking precedent there; from beat ‘em ups to ライブカジノ (live casino) sites, the Japanese audience has its own preferences and trends that make MOBAs more of a minority interest.
While MOBAs might be the most popular individual titles in Asia, the actual player numbers bear out the evidence that shooters remain top of the heap overall, even if no one title is close to reigning supreme over the entire esports market.
Overwatch is a great example of this; it may have seen dips from the height of its popularity immediately following its launch, but it has settled down to become a staple of this segment, with a solid player base in South Korea and China helping it to maintain momentum and remain viable as a competitive title in the face of competition.
There are a lot of reasons that Blizzard’s team shooter has succeeded where other similar titles have failed. From its personality-packed heroes and colorful visuals to its tight controls and surprisingly deep gameplay, it possesses all of the attributes that are enough to keep audiences hooked.
This is the upstart competitor which gave Overwatch a run for its money and eventually eclipsed it, finding favor with players not only across Asia but also globally.
Fortnite has enjoyed an explosive entry onto the esports scene due in part to its appeal to younger players, as well as its well optimized engine that allows it to run well on fairly basic PC hardware and even smartphones.
While PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds may be more popular in China, it is in Japan where Fortnite has become particularly impactful since it made its debut. Whether it will be able to maintain this meteoric rise indefinitely remains to be seen, but it certainly packs a lot of the elements which are needed to draw in Asian esports fans.
Because it is a MOBA, Dota 2 is often pitched as a rival to League of Legends, although in reality, this is something of a false dichotomy, since there is plenty of overlap between the fan bases for each game.
One thing that Dota 2 is certainly not lacking is sponsorship cash and prize money, with major tournaments still giving pros the opportunity to make themselves and their teams considerably richer, which in turn helps pull in more viewers when the stakes are this high.
Again it is the growth of the Dota 2 scene in China which has allowed it to gain traction in Asia, even if LoL is still the preferred format in South Korea.
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