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Both viewership of and participation in eSports continues to rise exponentially
It seems there is no stopping the rise of video game tournaments as a legitimate sporting discipline. Huge amounts of money are pouring into the sport through sponsorships and viewer numbers are quickly surpassing the multi-million level. This kind of support is enabling promoters to offer huge prizes to the winners of the biggest tournaments, some of which are now filling entire arenas with in-person spectators as well.
It’s a far cry from the early days when the Cyberathlete Professional League was first created in 1997 and many people mocked the whole idea of video games as a legitimate sporting discipline. Just a couple of years later in 1999, two new first-person shooters would launch that would both go on to have a profound effect on the future of esports – Unreal Tournament and Counter-Strike.
The Legacy of Unreal Tournament and Counter-Strike
Whilst Unreal Tournament itself didn’t last as a competitive game, the engine which underpinned the game would continue to be developed and licensed out to other developers to form the basis of the worlds in which modern games are played. Such was the impact of the Unreal Engine, over half of the titles revealed at The Game Awards 2020 were created atop the technology.
Counter-Strike on the other hand is a completely different story – the classic game continues to be played today in some circles. Furthermore, its modern iteration Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the most popular eSports titles played today, with thousands of tournaments played each year offering hundreds of millions of dollars in prize money.
2017: The Year That E-Sports Truly Became A Sport
There’s one thing that unites every sport the world over: the bookmakers are keen to take bets on the games! The major bookmakers were initially reluctant to get involved with eSports, which many people felt hurt their legitimacy as a legitimate sporting discipline.
The Intel Extreme Masters event that took place in Katowice in 2017 finally made eSports impossible to ignore. With over 45 million viewers, this so-called non-sport had attracted a larger viewership than many more conventional sports such as Cricket or Tennis.
Betting on eSports
Unibet was one of the first of the large bookmakers to truly grasp the potential of eSports, and they currently accept bets on all of the biggest matches. If you know how to bet on football or boxing then you already know how to bet on eSports too – you’ll find them listed right there on the homepage alongside soccer, basketball, and table tennis. If you’re new to the world of sports betting, Unibet has some great guides for newcomers too.
Many experienced gamblers believe eSports to be the best markets to take a punt on right now too – the odds are generous, and there is some truth to the claim that those who study the games and participating teams carefully can actually gain an edge over the bookmakers at present too.
The Most Popular eSports Titles of 2021 by Prize Money
- Defense of the Ancients 2, more commonly referred to as imply DOTA2 is currently by far the most lucrative of all eSports. With a total of $231,295,237.22 in prize money handed out at 1,493 tournaments to just 4,000 players, this is currently the game to master if you want to stand a chance of making your fortune in eSports. Be warned though, competition is fierce and many professional teams already exist. Watch a tournament to get an idea of the level of skill required to play this game at the highest level – it’s a fantastic game to watch.
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensivecomes in at second place with a total of $110,929,202.33 in prize money shared between 13,489 players at 5,512 tournaments. It’s some way behind DOTA2 in terms of prize money but its player base is considerably higher, so we could see the two games switch places at some point soon.
- Fortniteis a favorite with the younger crowd, and whilst only 693 tournaments have taken place a staggering $102,226,034.08 in prize money was collected by the 4,551 players taking part. This actually makes Fortnite the leader depending on your chosen metric.
- League of Legendsis one of the most exciting games to watch, and its popularity just keeps on increasing year after year. 2,494 tournaments have taken place, where 7,244 players walked away with $82,101,371.07.
- StarCraft IIis a true real-time strategy game, making it quite unlike the other games on this list. Matches can sometimes take a long time to complete, but that doesn’t mean they are any less exciting to watch. $34,734,474.78 in prize money has been won by 2,087 players at 6,066 tournaments so far.