Playing video games professionally for a living at events and tournaments around the world, known in the industry as ‘Esports’, has grown from a small niche pursuit into one of the most lucrative and exciting behemoths within the world of entertainment over the last decade or so. Thanks to heavy investments from sponsors and partners ranging from the likes of Gucci, Coca-Cola and Mercedes, teams and organisations have established themselves as just as supported as any real world sports side around the globe.
Here are some of the world’s most popular Esports titles, and a guide on some of the heaviest hitters within their competitive scene.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – Astralis
Danish org Astralis are the world’s finest Counter-Strike organisation, rising from the ashes of sides such as Team Solomid and Copenhagen Wolves to redefining the entire landscape of the game’s competitive scene.
The core five players in the current roster: Xyp9x, Gla1ve, Device, Dupreeh and Magisk are all the highest earners from tournaments and event winnings in the game’s history, showcasing the side’s unbelievable longevity and consistency at the top tier of competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).
At the time of writing, Astralis are CS:GO’s most decorated side by a country mile and have won the last three Valve-sponsored Majors in a row, becoming the first side to win back to back titles at FACEIT London, IEM Katowice and StarLadder Berlin. This took their total amount of Major triumphs up to four, eclipsing Fnatic’s total of three, and has undoubtedly gone a huge way in putting competitive CS:GO on the map as one of the world’s most exciting and respected Esport titles.
Astralis have also quite literally changed the landscape of CS:GO, dragging the game into the modern age with investments into the roles of dietary in gaming, mental fatigue and stress and even the idea of mid-series roster changes and substitutions.
League of Legends – DWG KIA
DAMWON Gaming was founded in May 2017 with the intention of being amongst the best League of Legends organisations in the world. They began life by acquiring the old roster of Mirage Gaming, a Challengers team competing in South Korea.
The team competes domestically in the LCK division, the top tier league in South Korea that also houses recognised and superstar Esports orgs such as the likes of DRX, Gen.G and T1. The side have risen up the LoL odds over the years since their founding, qualifying the annual World Championships for the first time in 2019 after a fourth and third place finish in the regular season.
Another third place finish in LCK Spring 2020 was finally followed by their first ever LCK triumph in the Summer of 2020, besting DRX in the grand final. Just eight weeks later, they continued on their remarkable run at the 2020 Worlds with wins over the likes of Europe’s G2 Esports and China’s Suning Gaming.
In December 2020, ahead of the 2021 LCK competitive season, DAMWON announced a new deal with automobile manufacturers KIA Motors and rebranded themselves as DWG KIA.
Overwatch – San Francisco Shock
Whilst Overwatch might not be the biggest Esport in terms of prize pools and valuations, it does possess perhaps one of the most unique and well polished competitive scenes thanks to the organisation and backing put into its competitive league-based tournament by game creators, Blizzard Entertainment.
There are a number of sides in the Overwatch League that have established strong legacies over the years, however the team that consistently stands head and shoulders above all others is San Francisco Shock.
The Shock were founded in July 2017 as one of the founding fathers of the Overwatch League, currently compete in the Pacific West Division, and were acquired by Sacramento Kings and NRG Esports owner Andy Miller for a rumoured whopping $20 million. His investment has since been paid back in some stunning ways however, with San Francisco Shock winning three midseason tournament titles and two consecutive Overwatch League titles to their name at the time of writing.
They have netted themselves approximately $4.35 million dollars worth of tournament winnings over the course of their history, with their 2019 and 2020 League triumphs securing the side a place in the game’s record books forever.