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If your parents ever disparaged your video game obsession as a huge waste of time, they’re either a) out of touch or b) lacking in vision.
That may sound overly harsh, but there’s some truth in this take. Esports, the video game industry’s competitive gaming arm, has amassed huge audiences, incredible cash pots, and sponsorships that enable elite players to transform their passions into careers. In fact, research firm Newzoo has estimated that esports will generate $1.79 billion(Opens in a new window) per year by the end of 2022.
Unfortunately, that amount will likely be affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Though many esports games have strong online components, the major competitions themselves are typically held in large venues that aren’t conducive to social distancing. Many tournaments in 2020 and 2021 were online-only or cancelled entirely to avoid turning crowded competitions into super-spreader events. However, with vaccines and declining cases, in-person esports events have started to return. For example, Evo 2022 drew large audiences of fighting game fans.
What’s a Great Esports Game?
Esports comprise many games, both popular and under the radar, in numerous genres. You like shooters? You can pop some caps in a rival playing Counter-Strike: Global: Offensive. In the mood for a battle royale of epic proportions? PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has got you covered. Into sports? In a merging of the two worlds, the NBA and Take-Two Interactive—publisher of the super-popular NBA 2K video game series—partnered to create the NBA 2K eLeague. In the esports world, there’s a video game, and related scene, for everyone.
Maybe there’s too much choice. There are so many video games on the market with a competitive, multiplayer focus that getting started in playing, or simply watching, professional video gaming may prove intimidating. Fortunately, this guide to the best esports games is designed to gently nudge you in the right direction. After all, every game going after that sweet esports money isn’t worth your time. And there are a whole lot of those.
How We Picked Our Favorite Esports Games
This guide contains several esports-worthy titles that PCMag’s staff has reviewed and wholeheartedly recommends playing. In fact, many of the titles that we suggest checking out also live in our best PC games roundup, though we also toss a bone or two to console players.
To be considered for inclusion in this guide, a game simply has to have official tournament support from its publisher. Though we love many of the smaller, community-backed efforts, such as the incredible Tecmo Super Bowl community, we had to create a cut-off point, lest damn near every competitive game be deemed worthy.
So, that’s that. If there’s a notable esports game that’s not listed below, that means we either didn’t review it yet or score it well enough to make the cut. What you’ll find below, however, are some of the best esports games played by amateurs and professionals in 2022—and likely beyond. Dig in. And, more importantly, have fun.
More on Esports
Esports is big business, with thousands of hungry players looking to get a part of the pot. For more on esports, check out:
- How I Learned to Stop Hating and Love Esports
- 8 Twitch Tips for Watching Esports
- How to Watch Esports From Damn Near Anywhere
- The Best Battle Royale Games
The Best Fighting Games