Esports

Esports
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A sold-out arena echoes with loud chanting, and the spotlights are focused on one place: the stage. Two teams of young men fix their eyes on the trophy before sitting down at the computers. The final for thousands of dollars and the fame of the entire gaming community. This is esports. You might be asking, what is esports? Why are more and more people talking about it? Progaming, e-sport, eSports, or electronic sports (all variants are correct) is an organized competitive game between players (or teams) in any video game (on mobile, PC, or gaming console). That’s the encyclopedic explanation, now let’s take a closer look at esports.


History

Tracing the origins of esports as we know it today is challenging. The first signs of competitive gaming appeared after 1980 on old Atari computers. As technology evolved, so did the games, and along with them, the entire gaming scene. The first major international tournaments started in the late ’90s (the most popular being QuakeCon with the FPS game Quake). At the beginning of the millennium, many world tournaments began to appear, such as the World Cyber Games (the Olympics of electronic sports) or the Electronic Sports World Cup (the unofficial world championship). These tournaments featured popular games of the time (Counter-Strike, Warcraft, Quake).

Quake game screenshot

Quake game screenshot (source: store.steampowered.com)

Gradually, the first leagues and amateur tournaments organized by the players themselves began to emerge. With increasing popularity and the advent of streaming platforms, the first sponsors also began to appear. The amount of money flowing into the world of esports began to grow. Gaming in basements and rented hotel halls moved to large halls and stadiums. The gaming community craze started in Asia but gradually spread to America and Europe. For example, the famous Championship Gaming Series expanded from the USA to the whole world and as the most funded progaming event, it became so popular that even sports television Eurosport broadcasted individual matches.

Today, there are countless leagues and tournaments that vary in significance and the size of the possible winnings (from a few thousand to millions). Competitions take place in many games (FIFA, NBA, Street Fighter, StarCraft II…), but in this article, we will focus only on the popular games of today.

Most played games today

Competitiveness can be found in every multiplayer game, so a large part of them have seen at least small tournaments and competitions. From sports simulators like FIFA or NHL to Rocket League and Rainbow Six to fighting games like Tekken or Street Fighter. There are really many, but only a few of the most popular ones sit on the imaginary throne of popularity.

DOTA 2 and Counter Strike

Valve Corporation used its digital distribution gaming platform Steam and released iconic titles exclusively on it. DOTA 2 (which originated from a Warcraft III mod) quickly became a popular game and the model for every future MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) game. Today it is the second most played game on Steam, and its esports scene is really extensive. The biggest tournament is the prestigious The International, where the best teams from around the world compete.

The most played game on Steam is the shooter Counter Strike 2 (formerly the previous version Counter Strike: Global Offensive). It was once the flagship of esports, loved by fans for the action and speed of the matches where something was always happening. Although it still has a strong fan base, it had to make room on the throne of progaming games for other games. Today, it is impossible to choose one best competitive game: each offers something different, and viewership numbers shift according to current events. The best solution is to be a fan of esports in general rather than having to choose just one game.

Dota 2 game screenshot

Dota 2 game screenshot (source: store.steampowered.com)

League of Legends and Valorant

The company Riot Games could be considered Valve’s main competitor. Its legendary MOBA game League of Legends is a popular alternative to DOTA 2 – the game’s principle remains, but the game elements are different. LoL was the most played game in PC gaming history in 2022 and simultaneously achieved the largest number of viewers with its biggest tournament Worlds, where the best teams in the world compete.

Riot did not stop with its MOBA game (although it grew from a small studio to a giant corporation thanks to it), but also came up with other titles. For example, Valorant is a shooter that takes the best from CS and Overwatch and combines it into a completely new game. The principle of team competition and bomb planting is a proven classic, but Valorant allows players to use magical abilities, which completely change the dynamics of the matches.

Valorant game screenshot

Valorant game screenshot (source: forbes.com)

Honorable mentions

When it comes to esports, some other game titles cannot be left out. Their glory days are behind them, but it is fair to mention them. Tournaments in the strategy game by Blizzard Starcraft II are still held today, but their popularity has decreased. Card games like Hearthstone (alternatively the digital version of Magic: The Gathering or the game by Riot Legends of Runeterra) also enjoyed great popularity, which then waned. World of Warcraft is the most successful MMO title, and its arena battles have always been a watched event. When it comes to racing games, TrackMania needs to be mentioned. If you like a combination of toy cars and football: Rocket League.

Players, teams, organizations

The more online games exist, the bigger the world of esports. As it grows, many organizations are emerging to cover tournaments or take teams of players under their wing. The top of the scene today resembles the top sports clubs – offering their players coaches, therapists, physiologists, and many other experts who take care of the stars’ comfort. At the same time, they pay their players monthly salaries based on an employment contract.

The world’s most significant progaming organizations

There are thousands of esport teams in the world, bringing together tens of thousands of players from all sectors. Among the most famous and significant are:

  • Ninjas in Pyjamas
  • Fnatic
  • Faze Clan
  • Natus Vincere
  • G2 Esports
  • Cloud 9
  • Liquid

Their teams play various games and are esports giants, providing an ideal environment for all those who can make a name for themselves. Even world football clubs (e.g., Manchester City, Ajax Amsterdam) have founded their esports branches, and Sparta Prague followed their example. By establishing a gaming section for FIFA, Sparta eSports was created (under the guidance of the progaming organization Enterprise). This only proves how significant esports is becoming.

Besides that, esports competitions for high schools and universities are held worldwide and in our country, where talent scouts look for future stars. In our country, it is the high school esports league, and in the USA, the High School League. Both are organized under the auspices of the ministries of education.

Czech esports teams

Among the largest domestic esports organizations are:

  • eSuba
  • eEriness
  • ECLOT
  • Entropiq
  • Gunrunners
  • Enterprise

Betting on esports

Bookmakers did not wait long. Besides sponsorships, they quickly jumped into opening betting opportunities for esports. Today, you can bet on league matches of FIFA or the biggest clashes in games like Counter Strike 2 and League of Legends on the largest gambling platforms in the Czech Republic (Tipsport, Fortuna or Sazkabet). Besides, there are smaller platforms that revolve solely around betting opportunities on progaming (some of the CS casinos, which we cover in our reviews).

Initially, betting was only allowed on the winner, but the enormous demand for more betting offers opened the doors to other options: you can currently bet on small things, like how many towers will be destroyed in a DOTA match or how many kills a player will get in CS.

For staying informed, it’s of course good to follow websites dedicated to the results and statistics of esports teams. For Counter Strike 2, we recommend following HLTV, for League of Legends the official LoLesport, or the lesser-known website GosuGamers, where you can also find information about DOTA 2 matches.

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Conclusion

Electronic sports have grown to enormous proportions, and today they can be compared to more traditional sports such as football or hockey. Opponents will, of course, disagree, but the last two decades have convinced us that progaming cannot be ignored. It has become an important cultural part of the gaming community and offers opportunities for everyone: whether career-wise or for betting.

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