Gaming is back in! Competitive esports is predicted to make a return in 2022, with multiple large-scale international tournaments and events fueling the ever-growing industry. If you’re searching for a specific game to learn, or just simply some of the most popular and exciting esports, this is the place to look.
Valorant is a first-person, team-based shooter game released by Riot Games. It came out in June 2020 and completely blew up the competitive gaming scene, now boasting a monthly average of 13 million active players. It’s extremely popular on Twitch — a streaming service dedicated to gaming — ranking No. 5 in the top games streamed. Valorant is gaining a lot of traction in the gaming world right now because of how recently it was created, as well as the sheer magnitude of well-known pro players for other previously popular games, such as CS:GO, joining professional Valorant teams. It has various individually hosted and official regional/international tournaments with decently large prize pools, such as the Valorant Champions Tournament (VCT) for professional players. Though relatively new, the competitive scene of Valorant is charged with many recognizable esports players and teams, making it not only convenient to learn, but also a nostalgic yet refreshing reintroduction to our favorite childhood streamers and YouTubers.
League of Legends
League of Legends has been persistent in the long run since its peak, and has continued to top the charts as one of the most popular esports for the past decade. The 2021 world championship had the highest number of viewers ever for an esports tournament, with more than 73 million viewers at its peak. Since it’s a strategy based game, players can appreciate the grind of building an account with various Champions (the playable characters) through the in-game currency. The location of the world championship for 2022 is also in North America, which is sure to pull many American competitive players and viewers back into League.
DOTA 2 was not as popular as League or Valorant in 2021, but the tournaments for DOTA 2 raise the stakes and keep it fairly popular in terms of competitive play. Recently, the 10th installment of the most popular annual DOTA 2 tournament “The International” was played last year. This tournament has rebounded the excitement for fans and DOTA 2’s popularity because it holds the record for the largest single-tournament prize pool in any competitive esports tournament: $40 million. Since each tournament’s prize pool outgrows the last, competitive players of DOTA 2 are sure to be training for an even bigger prize and even bigger competition. The incentive is so large that the pro scene of DOTA 2 is extensive, and worthy of looking into.
Esports graveyard: Overwatch
As an extremely prominent game in the past couple of years, Overwatch deserves an honorable mention — but not a place on the list. For a majority of 2021, it was not only dead in the game itself, but also appeared sparsely in the competitive scene. Overwatch players have been waiting in anticipation for Overwatch 2, which is tentatively scheduled to be released in the summer or fall of 2022, but has been delayed multiple times in its development. This has greatly discouraged a large population of Overwatch fans — the original game has no new updates, characters or maps to be explored. Many streamers and professional players have dropped Overwatch for games that are more recently popular and widely viewed by the gaming community, such as Valorant. Overall, because there has been no content released, Overwatch is slowly dying in terms of not only players, but also viewers. Many are hoping that the release of Overwatch 2 will change this.
In review, all of these games are worth playing. But only some of the professional scenes are alive and well because of the fading popularity of many “one-hit wonder” games. To keep up to date with the esports community, these freshly popular games are the best to watch consistently in 2022.