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The Best Competitive Online Sports Leagues

The Top eSports Today

It might sound too good to be true, but many people are now making money simply by playing video games. This brand new sport, eSports, is earning ever more sponsorship, prizes, and higher audience figures. Here are some of the best competitive online sports leagues in the world right now.

Rise of eSports

While other sporting categories had wholesale disruption following the eruption of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns, the new kid on the block eSports was only marginally affected thanks to its inherently pandemic-resilient nature. Both video games and sports are hugely popular so it’s no surprise that mixing the two together into competitive gaming has only grown more popular over the last decade, with the last few years showing a particular spike in attention.

The surging popularity of eSports in terms of both participation and viewership has become a virtuous circle of greater interest leading to bigger prizes and better levels of competition as the increased rewards drive up the quality of play. Similarly, the growth in attention has led to more and more markets being offered on eSports matches at online betting sites. Better yet, there are always new lists to go through to find new no deposit bonuses, allowing players to try and win real money online but without needing to deposit any of their own cash.

Dota 2

The players who have made the most money from eSports have done so by playing Dota 2 (a MOBA – multiplayer online battle arena), with the leading lights ending up with six-figure career earnings. The last International (world tournament) had a prize pool in the tens of millions, making it the most lucrative eSports category there is.

Players have over 100 characters from which to pick and this, coupled with extensive customization opportunities, makes the build of both individual characters and teams overall a critical part of the game. The goal of the game is to try to destroy the opposing team’s ‘Ancient’ (located within an enemy base).

League of Legends

Like Dota 2, League of Legends (also known as LoL) is a MOBA. While not quite as lucrative as the former, League of Legends does beat it on popularity grounds with more players into LoL than any other eSport. The straightforward player ladder system also makes it a top choice for players looking to build a career in eSports with local and global tournaments put together specifically for students.

The game itself involves two teams of five players, each controlling a champion that comes with unique abilities and varying playstyles. Destroying the ‘Nexus’ of an enemy base is the way to achieve victory. Right now the international eSports stage of League of Legends involves 12 leagues, making it top-dog on the participation front.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (typically shortened to CS:GO) is another one of the three biggest beasts in eSports today, and, unlike those already mentioned, it isn’t a MOBA. Instead, players compete on teams in frenetic FPS (first-person shooter) action, with one team consisting of terrorists and the other of counter-terrorists. The most common game modes are preventing the terrorists from setting off a bomb and attempting hostage rescues (or the reverse, if playing as terrorists).

The rise in interest in eSports is such that there’s even talk of the category
being adopted by the Olympic Games. After all, if table tennis can make it, and shooting’s already in there, why not eSports? It remains to be seen if the British capacity for excelling at sports that involve sitting down (sailing, rowing, cycling, etc) will transfer readily to Olympic eSports, however.

Other eSports

In addition to those three biggest eSports games, there are plenty more videogames that have their own professional leagues.

The Fortnite World Cup of 2019 came with a prize pool of US$30m and winners made more than the Wimbledon tennis champions of the same year. Another mass participation video game with an eSports side is FIFA, the football (soccer) game that’s one of the bestselling franchises in videogames history with over 280m sales.

Fans of shrinking maps and constant stress may enjoy the tension of professional PUBG, the battle royale game that puts on multiple tournaments a year. Or gunslingers can try their hand at Call of Duty’s regular tournaments and daily ladder matches. One of the most idiosyncratic eSports options is Overwatch, a distinctive blend of FPS and MOBA.

It wasn’t so long ago that making a living by playing video games was a schoolboy’s daydream, but these days it’s a genuine possibility. There’s a wide range of potential eSports to play at varying levels, so whether you prefer MOBA, FPS, or team sports such as football and basketball, there’s plenty to sink your gaming teeth into.

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