Which Video Games Are Considered Esports?

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Which Video Games Are Considered Esports?

There is a countless number of video games, created during almost half a century since the same industry was created. Over that period, numerous genres came about and to this day, new ones are constantly being invented or fused together. Among all those games, only a very few are considered esports or electronic sports. On the surface, these games might seem like any other from their genre, which could be real-time strategies, shooters, sports titles or something else. However, through the test of time and many other factors, a small and precious group was formed which now defines the domain of esports. Here is the list of the video games that are unanimously considered esports today.

Call of Duty

Call of Duty is a game that has been around for ages, especially for the Gen Z players. The first game in the series came out exactly 15 years ago, and its franchise is long by regular gaming standards and almost ancient by the standards of FPS esports. From WW2 to the modern battlefields, and back again, it is the seminal war shooter of the 21st century so far. The latest incarnation's of Call of Duty still manage to captivate players, and the CWL Championship totaled up to a $4.2 million prize pool in 2018.


NBA 2K represents an esport that grew from the series of basketball simulation games that started back in 1999. Since then, it has established itself as the primary connection between the esports realm and the National Basketball Association. Now, the NBA 2K League is the venture that represents this merger and also one of the most relevant sports titles in the esports domain. Stats underline this – in 2018 alone, 102 pro players competed for a prize pool of $1 million. The league grew this year to add more NBA franchises to the NBA 2K League.

StarCraft 2

Skeptics would say that Starcraft continues to hold on to the big leagues of esports only because of the appalling absence of any other noteworthy purebred real-time strategy games. However, even if you ignore the history which is terrific when counting the first game, StarCraft 2 is simply a beloved esports where Blizzard gladly partakes in the never-ending game balance tweaking cycles. The WCS Global Finals 2018 had 247,000 concurrent viewers which proves StarCraft 2 is still very much considered a premiere esports title.


Some fans and pro players of this growing giant in the video games arena might argue that Fortnite is the biggest esports title currently around.  While it is currently the most popular game, it is not the most popular esport. Fortnite is all about raw power and huge growth potential. The fun and whimsical game is one of two key battle royale esports on the planet. The other one is the older PUBG, but the scales have tipped towards the more recent title, Fortnite. Based on most metrics, Fortnite is the premiere battle royale esports game.

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

The game that started the battle royale craze and transformed it from a cult Japanese horror action film to a full-blown esports genre. PUBG, as it is better known, is all about realism and precise shooter game tactics as the main ingredients to becoming the last player alive in the battle royale mayhem. While it might struggle to keep its popularity in the years to come, it is still one of the seminal esports titles around. PUBG mobile is one of the most popular mobile esports.

Madden NFL

Madden or better known as Madden NFL started as a series of American football video games in 1988. It has generated a cult following and a big audience base, which quickly grew into an esports in its own right. With such a long history, the game's creator EA has been working steadily with esports teams on making sure no other esports title can consider teaming up with the NFL in this domain. Madden remains the only realistic simulation NFL game in the world. Madden's prize pool for this year is valued at $1.25 million.

Dota 2

This MOBA is the biggest esports game of the year by standardized metrics. There is no denying that Dota 2 keeps its crown of viewer numbers and the tournament prize pool (which stands at about $40 million for 2018). Dota 2  features a hugely important spot in not just the current esports arena, but its whole history. There is little doubt that the Defense of the Ancients 2 will continue to be a significant esports power.


Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a changing game. Valve recently took CS:GO and decided to move this super-popular FPS title into the free-to-play domain. It also added a battle royale mode in a decision that many saw as a bit of desperation on Valve’s part, a decision that comes late in the battle royale craze. Players also have a myriad of issues with the game itself and its battle royale mode. CS:GO is one of the most popular esports with over 800 tournaments.

Clash Royale

Clash Royale has one huge advantage that no other game on this list possesses – it’s right there for anyone to try. Unlike Fortnite, Clash Royale can be easily played on a range of mobile devices and found both on the App Store and Google Play. Its esports ecosystem is still surprisingly small with less than 100 pro players, but having in mind what firepower its creator Supercell brings to the table, the game is a mobile esports heavyweight. It is loaded with regular players and is a highly streamable game – Clash Royale League World Finals 2018 attracted 708,000 peak viewers.


The FIFA series has been in a prolonged battle with the second leading contender for the world’s most popular soccer game – Pro Evolution Soccer or PES. However, when it comes to the esports field, there is no contest. As the dominant EA sports title, FIFA reigns supreme over all other soccer games including PES and is one of the key esports video games in the world. With 43,172 as an average number of viewers for FIFA esports events in 2018, there is no need to further showcase its popularity.

League of Legends

LoL is an esports game that seems like it is only entering its golden age, unlike its main competitor – Dota 2. The popularity of this MOBA title is unmistakable. From its casual design and broad appeal that is planet-wide, this is a game for the masses. In 2018 alone, it had a combined prize pool of $14 million spread out over 154 tournaments and 1694 registered professional players. LoL is in many ways the football/soccer of esports – it’s the gateway to the entire field, and 2018 showed this better than any other year.


Blizzard's team shooter is something that showed exceptional potential since it's launch, but now, with the second season of its official league, Overwatch has blossomed into one of the world's most important esports. The numbers show the same trend: Overwatch League – Inaugural Season: Stage 1 had 1.6 million peak viewers. At the same time, the developer of the game is arguably one of the most included gaming companies trying to support its emerging esports field.

Other Video Games that are Considered Esports

Rocket League, Hearthstone, Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros., Dragon Ball Fighter Z, Paladins, Smite, Rainbow 6, Warcraft, Pro Evolution Soccer, Quake, Doom and Halo.

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Alex Mcalpine
Alex graduated from UWO with a degree in journalism. He is a Battle Royale and FPS guru. He often reads 'Winner Winner Chicken Dinner' as he is ranked in the top 100 on the PUBG leaderboards. Alex is also an Overwatch and CoD expert. You can learn more about Alex via our About page.