Professional esports gaming

Professional esports gaming (Photo by Gorodenkoff on Shutterstock)

Esports is the collective name for a wide variety of competitive video games. Originally starting as local events with small prize pools, esports has become a massive financial success. Today’s esports boast multi-million-dollar prize pools, merchandise, and live-streaming events. Our list of the top seven best esports games is a collection of some of the most competitive titles that are being played for fantastic amounts of cash.

The stereotypical image of the out-of-shape video game player pounding junk food and sugary drinks well into the wee hours of the morning is officially outdated. A new study from Queensland University of Technology reports Esports gamers (professional gamers competing in tournaments for large cash prizes) are in better physical shape than a significant portion of the general population!

Esports, or professional video game tournaments, are here to stay. This relatively new category of sports has enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity over the past decade or so. So much so that its effects are beginning to be studied and analyzed in the same way that researchers would investigate other, more traditional sports. One such recent study finds that gamers participating in some of esports’ most prestigious tournaments, where top prizes routinely eclipse seven figures, deal with the same amount of psychological pressure as professional soccer and rugby players.

To be clear, the heart of competitive esports is in player vs player (PvP) contests. Teams of hard-core gamers fight it out to the last player standing in an effort to win it all. Our sources helped us identify the best esports that are pulling in viewers and dealing out huge prizes for the champions. Let us know your favorite games in the comments below!

selective focus photography of two persons playing game in front of monitors
Two people playing game in front of monitors (Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash)

The List: Best Esports Games, According to Experts

1. “DOTA 2” (2013)

“DOTA” or Defense of the Ancients is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game. In it, two teams must overtake defenses and towers until the enemy team’s base is destroyed. STRYDA raves, “Simply put, no other esport has prize pools that come close to that of ‘DOTA 2.’ Valve’s hugely popular MOBA title has seen over $275 million in total prize money during its lifespan. Annual earnings for top players are high enough to make some professional athletes envious.”

“‘Dota 2’ is a popular multiplayer battle arena esports game developed by Valve Corporation. It is a sequel to ‘Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars.’ It is most popular in North America and Europe. The [game] is usually played in teams of five, with each one defending their area on a map. One team wins by destroying a structure called [an] ‘Ancient’ within the other team’s base,” praises Influencer Marketing Hub.

Geek Flare exclaims, “‘Dota 2’s’ official competitive circuit, the Dota Pro Circuit (DPC), is the focal point of the game’s competitive scene. The DPC hosts several major and minor competitions throughout the year, with the best teams vying for a chance to qualify for ‘The International,’ the biggest ‘Dota 2’ tournament and one of the largest esports events.”

2. “PUBG: Battlegrounds” (2017)

Standing for Public User Battle Ground, “PUBG” is a huge title in esports. The massive player base gets excited every time this game comes up in tournament play. Dot Esports says, “‘PUBG: Battlegrounds’ is the game that has the biggest player base in the world today. With over 350 million hardcore fans of the game, both PC and mobile, ‘PUBG’ is basically a household name in several countries around the world.”

“PUBG: Battlegrounds” (2017)
“PUBG: Battlegrounds” (2017) for PS4

PC describes, “Like many other games in the open-world survival or first-person shooter genres, the primary goal of ‘PUBG’ is to be the last player alive. However, ‘PUBG’ doesn’t adhere to the genre norms. It takes some of the best aspects of open world games, combines it with the mechanics of a good first-person shooter, and accommodates [their] player base.”

Business of Esports elaborates, “This mobile gaming success comes with a whopping $5 million prize pool, which is twice that of ‘Arena of Valor’ and ‘Free Fire,’ and it all boils down to its incredible format. One hundred players parachute onto an island in search of weapons and supplies–all while trying to stay the last person alive.”

3. “League of Legends” (2009)

“League of Legends” is another MOBA title that is known for its pop culture impact. “LoL” was also inspiration for “Arcane,” the hit Netflix animated series. Play comments, “‘League of Legends’ is one of the top-rated esports games by viewership which has slayed the dynamics of viewership quite early from its release in 2009. Exploding the market by storm, ‘League of Legends’ or ‘LoL’ is a MOBA-based [game] where users get to choose from a wide range of characters.”

The Gamer adds, “‘League of Legends’ was a smash hit and raised the bar when it comes to MOBA games, which made gamers flock to it in droves, and thus became one of the most popular titles with a dedicated esports scene in the industry ever since.”

STRYDA details, “In terms of total prize money given, Riot Games’ long-running MOBA title is consistently top five in all of esports. Over $8 million was awarded in 2020, but the highest-earning players only earned around $150,000 individually… Unfortunately, prize pools have been steadily declining in recent years.”

4. “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (2012)

Also known as “CS:GO,” this title has more than a decade in the esports spotlight. This game offers frantic first-person shooter (FPS) action. ISPO explains, “In the classic game mode of the strategic first-person shooter ‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’ … two teams of five players each compete against each other as terrorists and anti-terrorists. Unlike most other shooters, a player who is killed in action cannot immediately rejoin the game here.”

Play offers, “‘Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’ has been a classic first-person shooter game that managed to build a massive community of its admirers over the past few years. There are thousands of professional players for this game who’ve touched the peak of stardom just by streaming ‘CS: GO.’ No wonder it is one of the most viewed esports games of all time.”

The Gamer states, “As one of the oldest games with a dedicated competitive esports scene, ‘CS: GO’ has always been a popular contender for hosting some of the most anticipated tournaments in the industry. Viewership figures usually skyrocket around the time The Majors roll around.”

5. “Fortnite” (2017)

“Fortnite” is that game with all the silly dancing and sandbox building elements. It is also a game with one of the largest esports fandoms. GG Circuit claims, “The game was the brainchild of the North Carolina-based game developer, Epic Games. When ‘Fortnite’ came out in 2017, there were no competitive elements like most popular games under the sandbox genre.”

ISPO relates, “The original hype from the release of the Battle Royale shooter ‘Fortnite’ has still not died. The game principle of the esports game is a simple one: A total of 100 players compete against each other on a huge map. The last survivor wins.”

PC reviews, “‘Fortnite’ has a lot going for it, including approachable gameplay modes, bright and zany graphics, and an excellent construction system. Iffy combat and the presence of microtransactions detracts from the experience, but, as it is a free-to-play game, fans of the genre should still give it a shot. The title is on virtually every platform that plays video games.”

6. “Arena of Valor” (2016)

This is a MOBA game, where players choose from a list of unique champions. It also boasts large grand prize pools. “‘Arena of Valor’ has come from out of nowhere to become one of the world’s premier esports. TiMi Studio Group’s MOBA is now an industry juggernaut after humble beginnings… Today, the best ‘Arena of Valor’ players have started bringing in over $600,000 a year. It is dominated by … [Chinese Teams] and is overwhelmingly more popular in Asian countries,” according to STRYDA.

The Gamer asserts, “As a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game designed specifically for mobile devices, ‘Arena of Valor’ set itself up for immediate critical success and popularity, especially for modeling its gameplay somewhat after ‘League of Legends’… It capitalized on the lack of MOBA games on mobile devices and gained a huge following in the process for its initial monopoly.”

Business of Esports evaluates, “Its success is largely due to the developer’s decision not to use an existing Riot Games title such as ‘League of Legends Mobile’ or ‘Wild Rift,’ but instead produce a game similar yet legally distinct. As a testament to its incredible reputation, Nintendo even decided to put this game on its Switch platform.”

7. “Overwatch 2” (2022)

This Blizzard title offers players an interesting set of unique heroes. In this style of game, team composition is a must so that players can make the most of team synergy. Geek Flare compliments, “Heroes may adopt one of three roles, such as Tank, Damage, or Support, and battle in six-person teams. Included among the game modes are practice range, computer play/practice, rapid play, arcade, competitive play, and custom games.”

Dot Esports assures, “‘Overwatch 2’ introduced several new changes to the series. Firstly, the game is free-to-play, unlike its predecessor, making it accessible to anyone with a account. Secondly, the team size was reduced from six-person teams to five-person teams, making every teamfight mean more since there is one less role now.”

PC articulates, “Shooters don’t always have to be dark, gritty, or realistic. Cartoony fun has its place, even in gun-filled PC games. That place has been filled by Valve’s ‘Team Fortress 2’ for nearly a decade, but now Blizzard’s taken the reigns with ‘Overwatch’… As you might expect, it has developed a highly successful esports scene. Blizzard supports the ‘Overwatch’ competitive scene with several esports initiatives, including the ‘Overwatch’ World Cup.”

You might also be interested in:


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About Alan Corona

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink


Chris Melore


Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor