Picking the right game to go pro in esports
Breaking down the eight primary types of Esports
An esport is any game in which players compete against each other in a virtual tournament. As long as there is a way to measure performance, almost any game can be used. Esports athletes can compete in events alone or as part of a team. Team and player prize rewards for players can vary widely.
The following are the primary eight types of esports games used in tournaments with prize pools.
Fighting games are one of the most popular types of esports. Some of the first big games to get national attention were Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II. In fighting games, two players fight against each other by kicking, punching, and using special moves.
Some of today’s most popular fighting games include Mortal Kombat X, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Street Fighter V.
Some of the top fighting games with rewarding prize pools include:
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: This game is a crossover of various Nintendo characters and franchises, such as Mario, Zelda and Pokemon. It features a variety of modes, stages and items to customize the gameplay. Prize pools up to $150,000 are now typical.
- Street Fighter V: This game is the latest installment of the iconic Street Fighter series, which popularized the fighting game genre. It features 40 characters with different fighting styles and abilities. It also has an official esports league called Capcom Pro Tour, where players can compete for cash prizes and points – up to $1 million prize pool.
- Tekken 7: This game is a 3D fighting game that focuses on fast-paced and fluid combat. It features over 50 characters with unique moves and combos. It also has an official esports tour called Tekken World Tour, where players can qualify for regional finals and compete for a prize pool of $200,000.
- Mortal Kombat 11: This game is a brutal and violent fighting game that is known for its gore and fatalities. It features over 30 characters with different weapons and skills. It also has an official esports program called Mortal Kombat Pro Kompetition, where players can participate in online and offline events and win prizes.
Fighting games can be compared to conventional sports in some ways, such as:
- They require physical skills such as reflexes, coordination and timing.
- They involve strategy, tactics and adaptation to different opponents.
- They have rules, regulations and formats that govern the gameplay.
- They have fans, sponsors and media coverage that support the scene.
However, they also differ from conventional sports in some ways, such as:
- They are digital rather than physical activities.
- They have more diversity in terms of genres, styles and mechanics.
- They have more accessibility in terms of platforms, devices and locations.
- They have more innovation in terms of technology, design and content.
Esports athletes take the wheel in racing games and race against one or more other drivers at the same time. Racing games can be realistic simulations, arcade games with cars that don’t really exist, or a mix of both. Racing games like Mario Kart, Need for Speed, and iRacing are all very popular.
Racing games are a popular genre of esports that involve competing against other players in various types of vehicles on different tracks or courses. Some of the best esports racing games are:
- Gran Turismo Sport: This game features realistic graphics, physics and sound effects, as well as a variety of cars and tracks to choose from. It also has a dedicated esports mode called GT Sport Mode, where players can participate in online championships and tournaments with cash prizes.
- F1 2022: This game is based on the Formula One World Championship, and allows players to race as their favorite drivers and teams in realistic settings. It also has an official esports series called F1 Esports Series, where players can qualify for regional finals and compete for a prize pool of $750,000.
- iRacing: This game is a subscription-based online racing simulator that offers a high level of realism and accuracy. It also hosts several esports events and leagues, such as the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series, which has a prize pool of $330,000.
- Forza Motorsport 7: This game is a racing simulator that features over 700 cars and 200 tracks to race on. It also has an esports program called Forza Racing Championship (ForzaRC), where players can compete in online tournaments and win prizes such as Xbox consoles, gaming accessories and cash.
- Dirt Rally 2.0: This game is designed for hardcore rally enthusiasts, and features realistic physics, graphics and sound effects. It also has an esports mode where players can join online events and tournaments.
- Assetto Corsa Competizione: This game is based on the Blancpain GT Series, and offers a high level of realism and accuracy. It also has an esports program called SRO E-Sport GT Series, where players can compete for cash prizes and trophies.
- Gran Turismo 7: This game features realistic graphics, physics and sound effects, as well as a variety of cars and tracks to choose from. It also has a dedicated esports mode called GT Sport Mode, where players can participate in online championships and tournaments with cash prizes.
- MotoGP 22: This game is based on the MotoGP World Championship, and allows players to race as their favorite riders and teams in realistic settings. It also has an official esports series called MotoGP eSport Championship, where players can qualify for regional finals and compete for a prize pool of $100,000.
Professional sports like football, basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, skateboarding, boxing, and soccer are used as models for sports games. In either a realistic or an arcade version of the game, players compete against each other in their favorite sports. The Madden football series is still one of the most popular esports games. Madden Bowl 22 gave away $1 million in prizes. However, games like Sim Football are more challenging because the player sets the meta for their teams instead of having it set based on the stats of pro athletes.
When you choose to invest time developing your skills in sports games, you should look closely at the opportunity cost involved as sports game titles have much smaller esports career opportunities compared to other game styles.
Some of the bestselling sports video games in 2023 are Nintendo Switch Sports, Cricket 22 — The Official Game of The Ashes (PS5), Madden NFL 22 and Tony Hawk Pro Skater. However, top esports games titles with professional leagues supporting player career paths include NBA 2K and Rocket League. If you want to go pro in sports games, do your homework 😉.
Digital Card Games
Digital card games are a type of video games that emulate collectible card games (CCG) or trading card games (TCG). They are a turn-based game format in which players attack, cast spells, and perform other actions using cards. They usually involve building a deck of cards with different abilities and effects, and playing them against an opponent or a computer.
Hearthstone, which was originally released in 2014, remains one of the most popular digital card games in esports today with Legends of Runeterra, Magic: The Gathering Arena and Slay The Spire also gaining in popularity.
Some possible analogies between digital card games and conventional sports games are:
- Bridge: Both games involve using cards to form combinations and score points. Both games also require strategy, memory and communication with a partner2.
- Golf: Both games involve using different types of cards or clubs to achieve a goal. Both games also require skill, luck and adaptation to changing conditions3.
- Chess: Both games involve moving different types of cards or pieces with different abilities on a board or field. Both games also require planning, tactics and foresight to outsmart the opponent4.
Real-time strategy (RTS) games feature players progressing simultaneously in-game (as opposed to turn-based strategy in which the action stops after each player’s move). The idea behind RTS games is fairly simple. The game takes place on a world map where two or more players are pitched against each other. To advance in-game, players must micromanage resources, military and non-military units, building construction, new technology investigation, and diplomacy. Typically all RTS games include four main elements: buildings, technology, resources, and units.
Some popular RTS games are Starcraft II, Warhammer III, Age of Empires, Company of Heroes, and Total War.
Some possible analogies between RTS games and conventional sports games are:
- Chess: Both games involve moving different types of units with different abilities on a board or map. Both games also require planning, tactics and foresight to outsmart the opponent3.
- Football (soccer): Both games involve controlling multiple players or units with different roles and skills. Both games also require teamwork, coordination and strategy to score goals or objectives4.
- Poker: Both games involve managing resources and bluffing. Both games also require risk assessment, decision making and adaptation to changing situations5.
First-person shooter (FPS) games are defined by a first-person point-of-view camera of the character being controlled. The character usually wields a firearm or other weapon of some type. FPS games can pit the player against other human players (player-versus-player [PVP] style) or against the game’s artificial intelligence (AI).
First-Person Shooter (FPS) games are a type of shooter video game that lets you fight with guns and other weapons from your own point of view. The player controls the main character and sees what’s going on through their eyes in a three-dimensional space.
Some examples of FPS games are Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, Half-Life, Doom and Halo and Team Fortress.
Some possible analogies between FPS games and conventional sports games are:
- Skeet shooting: Both games involve shooting at moving targets with accuracy and speed. Both games also have different types of firearms and ammunition that affect the performance and style of shooting.
- Biathlon: Both games involve skiing and shooting as two main components. Both games also require stamina, coordination and concentration. Both games also have different modes and courses that challenge the player’s skills and adaptability.
- Laser tag: Both games involve shooting at opponents with infrared beams or lasers. Both games also have different teams, modes and scenarios that require teamwork, strategy and tactics.
Third-person shooter (TPS) games use a camera angle that allows players to see their entire character, as opposed to just their weapon. The player character is visible on-screen, and the camera is usually positioned behind or over their shoulder.
Some top ranked TPS games are Fortnite Battle Royale, Grand Theft Auto IV, Resident Evil 4, Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and Dead Space.
Some possible analogies between TPS games and conventional sports games are:
- Paintball: Both games involve shooting at opponents with projectiles that leave a mark. Both games also have different modes and scenarios that require different strategies and tactics.
- Archery: Both games involve aiming and shooting at targets with precision and accuracy. Both games also have different types of weapons and equipment that affect the performance and style of shooting.
- Golf: Both games involve hitting an object towards a goal with varying distances and obstacles. Both games also have different courses or levels that challenge the player’s skills and adaptability.
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena
Popular examples of MOBA games are: League of Legends, Dota 2, and Battlerite.
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games are a type of strategy video game in which two teams of players compete against each other on a set battlefield. Each player is in charge of a single character with a unique set of skills that get better as the game goes on and help the team’s overall strategy. Usually, the end goal is for each team to destroy the base or core of the other team.
Some possible analogies between MOBA games and conventional sports games are:
- Rugby: Both games involve two teams trying to advance towards the enemy’s territory and score points by reaching their goal or base. Both games also have different positions for players with different roles and skills.
- Hockey: Both games involve two teams trying to score goals by hitting an object into a net or a core. Both games also have different lanes or zones where players can move and attack. Both games also have fast-paced action and physical contact.
- Baseball: Both games involve two teams taking turns to attack and defend. Both games also have different roles for players with different abilities and specialties. Both games also require teamwork, coordination and strategy.
Risk and Rewards – picking the right game for you
The most financially rewarding esports games to play are those that have large prize pools, frequent tournaments and many players. According to esportsearnings.com, some of the highest-paid esports games in the world are:
- Dota 2: This action real-time strategy game has awarded $312.6 million from nearly 1,800 tournaments since it was released in 2013. It also has a yearly event called The International, with the largest prize pool in esports history ($40.2 million in 2021).
- Fortnite: This battle royale game has awarded $151.1 million from over 1,200 tournaments since it was released in 2017. It also has a yearly event called Fortnite World Cup, which had a prize pool of $30 million in 2019.
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive: This first-person shooter game has awarded $147.2 million from over 6,500 tournaments since it was released in 2012. It also has several major events such as ESL Pro League, BLAST Premier and Intel Grand Slam.
- League of Legends: Since it came out in 2009, this multiplayer online battle arena game has been played in more than 2,700 tournaments that have given away $98.8 million. It also has a yearly event called League of Legends World Championship, which had a prize pool of $6.5 million in 2020.
Of course, playing these games professionally requires a lot of skill, dedication and luck. Not every player can make a living from esports, and only a few can become rich and famous.
Check out the Top tournaments and prize pools
↑ The Top 10 Prize Pools for Esports in 2022! Over the past 25 years, players in esports have won some of the most amazing prizes. Since the first official video game competition in 1972, where the winner got a year’s subscription to Rolling Stone for being the best Spacewar player, the industry has changed a lot.
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