Rising Esports to Watch in 2022
The state of global esports just ten years ago pales in comparison to the diversity and popularity the scene enjoys in 2022. Now, sports fans are just as likely to utilise free offers from leading comparison platforms to back the latest League of Legends championship as they would a post-season NFL game, and major brands from ESPN to Nike eagerly affiliating themselves with competitive gaming.
All of this points to the fact that there can be little doubt we are presently living through a watershed moment in the rise of esports on the global stage.
Naturally, this growing interest has led to a huge influx of new players and spectators – many of which are coming from outside the traditional PC gaming fold. Their influence has begun to impact all levels of the sport, with console and mobile-optimized games gaining ground on the PC first person shooters, and MOBA, title mainstays of the core community.
Here we’re going to take a look at the esports to watch in the coming years. While the likes of CS:GO and DOTA II still rule the roost, it’s considered inevitable that games available on the, more affordable, consumer consoles will continue to establish themselves as guiding concerns among the community in the years to come.
League of Legends: Wild Rift
The MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre is the bread and butter of modern esports, and one that historically has been limited to the PC-gaming sector. However, following the runaway success of Honor of Kings, and then Mobile Legends: Bang Bang on mobile, the case has been made that there is definitively an appetite among smartphone gamers, especially in Asian markets, for tactical team based arena titles on the platform.
In light of this, it is perhaps unsurprising the Riot Games’ heavyweight IP, League of Legends, has sought to break into the market it did so much to create alongside Blizzard’s DOTA franchise.
Spin-off Wild Rift has been gaining ground steadily, and has succeeded in cutting across to become popular on mobile in both in eastern and western markets.
With Riot Games’ penchant for building and curating competitive communities around its titles, the enduring popularity of the League of Legends name, and the rapid growth of mobile-optimized MOBAs, we can expect this title to become a significant esport in the years to come.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
While the latest esports games, such as Valorant, are guaranteed to create a buzz when they launch, the mainstay titles that comprise the core competitive gaming community are often, by the standards of the industry, antiques.
Many of the most popular esports played today represent bygone eras of gaming, from Blizzard’s 1998 release Starcraft, to Capcom’s 1991 hit Street Fighter II. In lieu of modern graphics and mechanics, these games offer that priceless combination of complexity and balance that make them ideal competitive platforms.
What’s more, play-styles within these games evolve over time as successive generations of players rise through the rankings exploiting new techniques, characters or strategies – much like in any conventional sport.
It is for this reason that, among the fastest growing and most influential esports today you will find Super Smash Bros. Melee, the 2001 GameCube platformer/beat em up. While its sequels, 2008’s Brawl, and 2018’s Ultimate, also enjoy a loyal esports following, neither of these can match the adoration or esteem their predecessor is held in.
That the Melee community is so vibrant, and growing, over 20 years on from its launch is all the more amazing when one finds just how uncooperative Nintendo has been over that span of time, even deliberately working against the Melee fan community to shut down organic competition.
Though Melee’s community is one that has grown in spite of this adversity, and has become crystalised in its ambition to keep this game alive, and to spread the word about its excellence as an esport.
As esports continues to grow, it’s even possible that Nintendo will pull their head out of the sand and acknowledge that it has, quite unexpectedly, created one of the most popular esports titles of the 21st century.