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A Beginner’s Guide To Esports

Even though esports has blown up in a really big way over the past few years, there are still many people who have no idea what it’s all about. So, here’s a quick overview from Soccer Laduma to help explain esports to those who don’t know (and are still calling it “e-gaming” or “TV games”) where we will try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about esports?

What is esports?

Esports is competitive gaming. Some might add stipulations like that these games are played for money or that players play these games professionally for a living, but at its heart all esports are, are games played competitively.

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So, are all video games esports?

While all esports are video games, not all video games are esports. For a video game to be considered an esport it needs to meet a few of the following criteria. It should be multiplayer allowing multiple players to compete. It should have a robust spectator mode (while this is not a make or break criteria, it certainly makes the difference in terms of the success of the game as a potential esport). It should not be “pay to win”, in other words, you should not be able to buy an advantage in the game (in fact most esports are entirely free to play and any purchases are purely cosmetic). Finally, it should be popular and have both a large player base and viewer base. One other thing that has certainly led to the success of other esports is having the support of content creators. If gamers are consuming loads of videos and memes created by YouTubers and streamers of your game it is more likely to grow in popularity.

What are some of the most popular esports?

Generally, esports are broken down into genres. There are fighting games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. First-person shooters (FPS’s) like Call of Duty, Overwatch and Counter-Strike. There are massive online battle arenas (MOBA’s) such as Défense of the Ancients 2 and League of Legends. There are card games such as Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering. Real-time strategy games like Starcraft 2 and then a whole host of sports sims like FIFA, Madden, NBA2K etc. Probably the newest genre in esports is Battle Royales which include popular titles like FortniteApex Legends and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). While there are also a growing number of esports titles on mobile, for the most part, the most popular esports are played on console and PC. Just like traditional sports, there are dozens of different esports all with a different fanbase and appeal, so you can find the esport that best suits you. Just like some folk like football, but can’t stand football there is an esport for every taste.

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Who can play esports?

That’s probably the best part about esports is that anyone can play them. Unlike traditional sports that can be dictated by athletic ability, esports can be played by anyone. There are thus no advantages or disadvantages based on your weight or height or gender making esports perhaps the most inclusive sport around. Literally, the only limitation is access to the equipment (consoles and PC’s) and with some games, access to the internet.

Where can I watch esports?

One can easily watch esports via sites such as Twitch.tv or Youtube simply by searching for your favourite game on the site. Otherwise, there are hundreds of tournaments happening around the world for you to watch and happening here in South Africa (check out Mettlestate.com or ACGL.co.za for some local tournaments) if you want to play.

What are the easiest esports to get into?

Like most sports, some are much easier to understand than others. If I dropped you in the middle of an NFL game without any knowledge of the game you wouldn’t know your blitz from your 1st down and we all know how confusing the offsides rule can be for someone who has never watched football. Similarly, with esports, some games are much easier to understand, but as you get to know and understand the game you start to enjoy it much more. Our recommendation then for folks who are new to esports and what to get a better understanding would be to start watching fighting games such as Street FighterDragon Ball Fighter Z and Mortal Kombat. They are relatively easy to understand and fun to watch. Then if you’re looking for something different check out some first-person shooters (games like Call of Duty or Counter-Strike or some Battle Royales like Fortnite or Apex Legends) before moving onto the more complicated genres like MOBA’s and RTS’s. Of course, if all this is too much you can just watch some good old fashion sports sims like FIFA or NBA2K which are as close to the real thing as possible (especially during lockdown).

Hope this quick overview has given you a better understanding of the world of esports. We will definitely be discussing more on this subject in future so let us know if there are any questions you would like answered in the comments section below.

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