DOTA 2, Counter Strike, LoL & Co.

These are the 7 Most Popular esports Games

Girl sitting at the computer playing esport games
Games like League of Legends or DOTA 2 are among the most popular esports games worldwide.

There are countless esports games that inspire people all over the world. But which are the most popular esports games worldwide? We'll not only introduce you to the seven games that rule the international esports community, but also reveal exciting facts about them.

First Up: The Genres

Before we get started, we'll take a look at what the more popular genres mean.

  • Real-Time Strategy: In real time strategy games, players usually cannot develop a strategy or tactic beforehand, but must take the right measures at the right time in the right place to win the fight. This type of game requires tactical skill, strategic foresight, multi-tasking, quick reactions and the ability to stay on top of chaotic situations.
  • First-Person Shooters: First person shooters focus on simulating a firefight from a first person perspetive and may be either individual or team based. The player gets the impression that he is actually involved in the action, making the game experience more real and immediate.
  • MOBA: Multiplayer Online Battle Arean (MOBA) games are a spin-off of real-time strategy games. They combine elements of action, role-playing and strategy. MOBAs are typically team focused where two teams square off with each player having a specific role or class in the form of a hero. Throughout the game, you collect experience points and become stronger. The goal is to destroy the base of the opposing team.
  • Online Trading Card Game: These games combine strategic skill with the task of collecting cards. It is important for the players to continuously expand their decks. Certain cards are quite common while more powerful cards are rarer and harder to come by. Online Trading Card games are usually less about fulfilling a mission. Rather, the games thrive on competing again and again against an opponent and defeating him with their own, individually created deck.
  • Battle Royale: This Hunger Games style genre is all about survival. The players must remain in a given zone while the map shrinks over the duration of the match. If you're the last one standing, congratulations! The principle of the game is derived from a Japanese novel of the same name (1999) and the corresponding feature film (2000).

The 7 Most Popular esports Games

We present the seven most popular esports games worldwide. A game's popularity can be tracked based on the number of professional players for a particular game. provides a comprehensive overview of the number of professional players per game.


Counter Strike

  • Name: Counter Strike
  • Studio: Valve Corporation
  • Released: 8 November 2000
  • Genre: First Person Shooter
  • Game Mode: Multiplayer
  • Controls: Keyboard & Mouse
  • Age Rating: USK 16
  • Professional Players: 4,507
  • What is Counter Strike about?

    In Counter Strike, two teams, terrorists (or T) and counter-terrorists (or CT), fight for control of the area. Depending on the scenario, the teams receive various objectives, which the opposing team must foil: In some scenarios, the CTs must rescue hostages from the terrorists or the Ts must plant a bomb amongst the counter terrorists.

    If you succeed in eliminating your opponent or fulfilling your mission's goal, you will not only receive points for your score, but also virtual money. If you shoot your own teammates or hostages, money and points will be deducted automatically.

    Fun Facts about Counter Strike

  • Modest Beginnings:
    Originally, the esports Game, according to Counterstrike fandom wiki, was created by a small group of hobby developers. Minh Le and Jess Cliffe then took over leadership. Almost 20 years later it is one of the most popular and most successful shooters of all time.
  • The second highest prize money worldwide:
    According to, Counter Strike 2018 achieved the second highest total prize money worldwide (22,648,867.19 US dollars). Only DOTA 2 managed to surpass this figure with 41,395,452.23 US dollars.
  • Record Transaction:
    According to an esports fan purchased the extremely rare "Dragon Lore" AWP skin on the same platform for more than 61,000 US dollars.
  • League of Legends (LoL)

    • Name: League of Legends
    • Studio: Riot Games
    • Released: 27 October 2009
    • Genre: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA)
    • Game Mode: Multiplayer
    • Controls: Mouse, Keyboard
    • Age Rating: USK 12
    • Professional Players: 1,748

    esport Gamer plays League of Legends at the Paris Meltdown Competition League
    The esports Game League of Legends was released in 2009. Since then, it's been thrilling players all over the world.

    What is League of Legends about?

    League of Legends is one of the most famous real-time strategy games in the world. Two teams compete against each other face to face with five champions each. There are several battlefields with an arena-like structure to choose from. The main goal is to bring your opponent to their knees by destroying their base (known as Nexus). Before this happens, however, the teams must first overcome some obstacles. Every player collects experience and resources that benefit your character.

    The role-playing elements are very exciting: there are dozens of heroes to choose from and their number is constantly growing. Thanks to its character design and weekly updates the game caters to the esports scene and makes it possible for adept LoL players to experience the game again and again.

    Fun Facts about League of Legends

    • Relation to Medieval Fencing Master:
      The LoL heroine Fiora is based on the Italian fencing master Fiore dei Libri: His manuscripts from the 14th century, according to, had a far-reaching influence on martial arts. But not only the name of the LoL character resembles that of the fencing master: Fiora also fights with a sword.
    • Five Characters, One Speaker:
      The US-American actress Karen Strassman has dubbed voices according to IMDb for not only one, but a total of five LoL-champions (Cassiopeia, Fiora, Shyvana, Elise and Zyra).
    • The King-Rammus-Skin as Reward:
      Although the game was only released on 27 October 2009, the beta version of the eGame was already available on 10 April. According to, anyone who played the beta version has received the King Rammus skin (a skin is a special texture with which you can give weapons or characters a different look). The King Rammus skin is a rarity today!


    Video Recommendation from the Editor: "7 DAYS OUT" (Netflix)

    If you want to see the planning and coodination involved in a big esports event yourself, we recommend the Netflix Documentary Series "7 DAYS OUT": In episode 6 of the series, spectators are taken behind the scenes to experience the preparation for the Final of the North American Spring Split in Miami Beach (Florida, 2018). The film follows one of the two final teams very closely and gives exciting insights into the world of the esports players before the final showdown. A must see!

    Here's a preview of the documentary:



  • Name: Overwatch
  • Studio: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Released: 24 May 2016
  • Genre: First-person shooter
  • Gade Mode: Multiplayer
  • Controls: Mouse, Keyboard, Controller
  • Age Rating: USK 16
  • Professional Gamers: 1,438
  • What is Overwatch about?

    With Overwatch team work plays a crucial role: Two Teams of six players square off in a battle to gain control over a certain location within a given time. Each player can choose from 29 different heroes, which are divided into three categories:

    • Damage: These heroes cause havok in the battlefield with their damage output. At the same time, however, they are usually glass cannons with low HP.
    • Tank: These heroes have a large health pool. They also usually have additional health in the form of armor or shields. Tanks are usually on the front lines during an attack.
    • Support: Heroes in the support category have healing abilities. They can use them for wounded allies or protect their own team from enemy attacks. Without the support of damage or tank heroes, however, they are easy targets.

    You always choose a hero for the current round, but you can also play with other heroes in the coming rounds. Once the round is complete, players will receive experience points and can customise the appearance of their avatars. However, these will not affect your abilities or your game play.

    Fun Facts about Overwatch

    • Historical Heroes:
      According to the heroine Zarya, a bodybuilder with pink hair, is based on the Russian character designer of the game, Tamara Bakhlycheva.
    • Voice Dubbing:
      When the game was originally released, Overwatch had over 7,000 voice samples (special sayings that heroes can purchase and use in the game). 68 different actors were recorded and translated into 12 different languages: a total of about 84,000 different character voice samples.
    • Record Time Development:
      The time it took for developers to release a beta version of Overwatch was just five months according to By comparison, Fortnite took six years between the game's announcement and release.

    Esport Gamers playing Fortnite at E3 2018
    Fortnite: End-game scenario means the game gets tricky for the few remaining characters
    Credit: Sergey Galyonkin from Raleigh, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


    • Name: Fortnite
    • Studio: Epic Games, People Can Fly
    • Released: 25 July 2017
    • Genre: Battle Royale
    • Game Mode: Single/Multiplayer
    • Controls: Keyboard, Mouse, Controller, Touchscreen
    • Age Rating: USK 16
    • Competitive Gamers: 1.388

    What is Fortnite about?

    Fortnite starts with an apocalyptical scenario. Ninty-eight percent of the planet is gone. The remaining two percent, to which you belong, are threatened by zombie attacks by the so-called "husks", which descend from the heavens to earth.

    As a player you have to complete different tasks. These include eliminating zombies, collecting resources and rebuilding parts of civilization through forts and fighting other players. The player who outlasts everyone else wins.

    Fun Facts about Fortnite

  • Announced in 2011:
    The release date of Fortnite was announced in 2011, according to German platform . However, due to a series of delays and long test phases, the game finally released in 2017.
  • Dance Challenges in Social Media:
    Dance Challenges have become a big part of the fanfare surrounding Fortnite on social media. Most challenges revole around the Fornite's most popular dances: The Carlton, The Floss and The Milly Rock.
  • Sales Boosted by Celebrities:
    According to TechSpot, Fortnite pocketed a revenue of $22 million between March and April 2018 as a result of a Fortnite live stream of Rapper Drake and esports athlete Tyler "Ninja" Blevins. About 635,000 people watched the stream between the rap star and the gaming icon.
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    PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)

  • Name: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
  • Studio: PUGB Corporation
  • Released: 23.03.2017
  • Genre: Battle Royale
  • Game Mode: Multiplayer
  • Controls: Mouse, Keyboard, Controller
  • Age Rating: USK 16
  • Competitive Gamers: 1,233
  • What is PUBG about?

    PUBG throws its players onto the battlefield: Equipped with a parachute, the player dives out of a plane. He is accompanied by a maximum of 99 other participants in one of three different maps. The players fight hunger games style until the last man standing wins.

    PUBG is an esports Battle Royale game. You can fight alone or in a team of up to 4 players. Players fight each other randomly in the field of play as the map becomes smaller and smaller. Whoever moves outside the defined zone dies.

    Fun Facts about PUBG

    • "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner":
      If a player wins, PUBG displays the following message: "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner". The background for the saying is not clear according to One possible origin is the great depression: If you won money in a street game back then, you could afford the luxury of eating chicken for dinner.
    • Film inspiration:
      According to Wikipedia, PUBG was inspired by the Japanese movie Battle Royale. But the name "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" has a different background: The chief developer Brendan Greene often called himself "PlayerUnknown" while playing the game.
    • Success through Word of Mouth:
      The success of PUBG is based according to an interview with Sammie Kang (Lead Community Manager at the game's development studio) almost exclusively on word of mouth.

    Gamer playing PUBG
    Only released in 2017, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is already one of the most popular esports titles in the world.

    DOTA 2

  • Name: Defense of the Ancients 2 (DOTA2)
  • Studio: Valve Corporation
  • Released: 9 July 2013
  • Genre: Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA)
  • Game Mode: Multiplayer
  • Controls: Keyboard, Mouse
  • Age Rating: 12 Years Old
  • Pressional Players: 1,093
  • What is DOTA 2 about?

    For experienced players, DOTA 2 is nerve-racking because this real time strategy game not only inspires its participants with a sophisticated design, but also challenges them tactically. Every game begins with two teams ("Dire" and "Radiant") with five players each. Each player chooses one of a total of 115 different heroes. If a hero has been selected, he is not available to the other players.

    The goal of the game is to defend your own base (known as the "Ancient") and to destroy the opponent's base . Before this can happen, each team must overcome the opponent's forts. Both teams are supported by so-called creeps every 30 seconds. These are auxiliary troops that attack the opponent's Ancient and forts on the way there. The game is not only a tactical challenge, but also a coordinative challenge, which is also captivating for spectators.

    Fun Facts about DOTA 2

    • Unknown Producer:
      The big cheese behind DOTA 2 goes by the name of IceFrog. More is not known about IceFrog.
    • Highest Prize Pool in the World:
      "The International", organised by its own developer Valve, is the largest DOTA 2 tournament in the world. "The International" offers the most prize money among all esports events. In 2018 alone, more than 24 million dollars were awarded in prize money.
    • AI Supreme:
      In the context of a research project, according to The Verge, five different artificial intelligence machines managed to beat a team of DOTA 2 players.

    The Swedish DOTA 2 Team Alliance at Dreamhack Summer 2015
    DOTA 2's appeal becomes apparent when you look at the prize money offered at the tournaments.
    Credit: IgorNazario [CC BY-SA 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

    Hearthstone – Heroes of Warcraft

  • Name: Hearthstone – Heroes of Warcraft
  • Studio: Blizzard Entertainment
  • Released: 11 March 2014
  • Genre: Online-Sammelkarten-Spiel
  • Game Modes: Single-/Multiplayer
  • Controls: Keyboard, Mouse, Touchscreen
  • Age: USK 0
  • Professional Players: 828
  • What is Hearthstone about?

    Developed by Bizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone is a Strategic Card Game based off the folklore within the World of Warcraft (Wow) universe.

    You start the game with a Hero and a deck of cards. With each game played, the game unlocks new cards that belong to either the base deck or the hero's deck. From the cards collected, the player can create a individual deck of cards.

    Once you have completed the practice mode, you begin competing against other players who are around the same skill level. The purpose of the game is to experience exciting card duels. There is no concrete mission goal or similar. In addition, additional cards can be purchased , either with virtual gold coins, which the players earn, or with real money.

    Fun Facts about Hearthstone

    • Warcraft Card Art:
      The reports that the Hearthstone cards are partly based on the card type of World of Warcraft. After World of Warcraft passed its zenith, however, the card designs had already been created. The developer studio Blizzard Entertainment, however, succeeded in using the cards in the form of the first Hearthstone sets.
    • Micro Development Team:
      According to the development team of Hearthstone originally consisted of only 15 people, which is absolutely unusual for the gaming world (mostly the teams consist of 50 developers or more for games of this size). While the team has grown since then, most of the game today is based off the original work of those 15 developers.
    • Fake Cards in the Credits:
      The same page also reports that each of the developers received their own fake card in their liking, which is displayed at the end of the game.

    esports Games: Experience the thrill

    The enthusiasm around esports is no longer hype, but lasting euphoria. You can enjoy the excitement of esports games not only as an esports gamer, but also as a spectator. You can dive into the madness here: Twitch or Smashcast.

    Whether you're a gamer or a spectator: Make sure you're well equipped when you're on the go and customise your personal esports jersey in our online shop with our 3D Designer, so that you can share your enthusiasm with your community!

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    Picture Credits: Cover Picture: © gettyimages/gorodenkoff, Image 1: © Wikimedia Commons/Clément Grandjean (CC BY-SA 4.0), Image 2: © Wikimedia Commons/Sergey Galyonkin (CC BY-SA 2.0), Image 3: © gettyimages/innovatedcaptures, Image 4: © Wikimedia Commons/IgorNazario (CC BY-SA 2.5).