If you’re not already au fait with the esports market, then it might be time to start getting into it. Esports is a hugely lucrative business; it’s projected to top $1.64 billion by 2024. With so many different esports games to choose from, esports fans are truly spoiled for choice; whether you’re into shooters, MOBAs, or even mobile strategy games, you’ll find plenty to love in the world of esports. Here are the 10 games that we believe represent the best of the best when it comes to esports in 2022. A note: we’re not doing this by gross, but rather simply by the games we love to watch ourselves!
1. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
No list of the greatest esports titles would be complete without Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. This first-person shooter may not have been the first ever esport, but it’s probably one of the biggest games that come into people’s minds when you ask them about esports. A hugely lucrative industry has sprung up around CSGO betting sites, with many placing wagers on teams or players they think are going to win big at CSGO tournaments. This is a fast-paced, responsive, and hugely enjoyable esports shooter.
2. League of Legends
So, if you’re not big into your CSGO odds watching and you want to play something a little more cerebral, where do you go? Well, that’s easy: you go to Riot Games and League of Legends. The game boasts more than 140 champions, all of whom can be played anywhere on the iconic Summoner’s Rift map (although you may come in for some criticism from your team for some picks!). The meta is constantly shifting, too, making League feel like a new game with every patch.
3. Dota 2
Both League of Legends and Dota 2 came from the same original game, a Warcraft III mod by the name of Defense of the Ancients (hence Dota). Unlike League of Legends, Dota 2 has remained pretty faithful to the original idea behind Defense of the Ancients. It’s got more in common with real-time strategy games than League’s more fast-paced idea of MOBA gameplay; you’ll need your wits about you if you want to triumph over the enemy team here.
If you want to play Counter-Strike: Global Offensive but you’re a little put off by the slightly dour modern military aesthetic, then it’s to Valorant that you must turn. Fundamentally, the gameplay is similar to that of CSGO; you must either defend a bomb or defuse it (although it’s called a “spike” here), and you have access to a range of weaponry to help you do so. Valorant takes influence from hero shooters, though, giving each distinct character their own special.
5. Clash Royale
Supercell’s mobile free-to-play strategy game has proven a surprise hit, with a diverse player base and shockingly large prize pools considering its relatively humble origins. At its core, Clash Royale is a simple game; you must destroy your enemy’s towers, and you have access to a range of weaponry and other abilities to help you do so. The genius of the game is in building different strategies and approaches for attacking your enemy’s base, and there are a surprising number of those to discover.
6. PUBG: Battlegrounds
Despite PUBG: Battlegrounds having a huge amount of competition, it’s still the battle royale game to which many fans of the genre turn. PUBG has an emphasis on realism that its compatriots don’t necessarily share; it’s even got realistic sound modeling, so taking off your character’s shoes will make them move more quietly, for example. If you don’t like Fortnite’s more cartoony aesthetic and emphasis on building, then PUBG is the game for you.
On the other hand, if you think PUBG is just a little too serious for its own good, then Fortnite is your game. It’s a big, wild, wacky battle royale that’s making serious moves into “the metaverse”, hosting gigs by famous musicians and serving almost more as a hangout space for its players. There is a great game in here too, though, one of resource management, building structures, and blasting your enemies from across the map before they can encroach on your base.
8. StarCraft II
It’s hard to talk about esports without mentioning Blizzard (which, of course, we have technically already done through the mention of Warcraft III earlier). StarCraft II is a classic sci-fi real-time strategy game with peerless balance and an incredible esports scene, even today. The game is mainly enjoyed by those who prefer a cerebral approach to their gameplay; watching StarCraft II pros in action is akin to watching hacking geniuses take down the government with just a few keystrokes.
Speaking of Blizzard, Overwatch may not quite enjoy the same position of esports dominance that it used to, but the game is still a force to be reckoned with in the esports world. This hero shooter features a huge and diverse cast of characters, each of whom fits into a different role; think League of Legends meets Counter-Strike and you’re not far off. The aesthetic is bold and colourful, the shooting is satisfying, and the lore, while somewhat baffling at first glance, is surprisingly absorbing.
10. Honor of Kings / Arena of Valor
Last but not least, we have Honor of Kings, the Chinese mobile game that has quietly taken the world by storm. If you’re in the West, you probably know this game as Arena of Valor; technically, Honor of Kings never actually launched in the West. However, Honor of Kings has managed to rack up $10 billion around the world, and it’s done so without the help of Europe or the USA, which is mighty impressive. A fairly standard MOBA it may be, but it’s also a hugely popular one.