Esports and music can go hand in hand in a pretty profound way.
Sound design is an important part of video games in general, but the live event nature of esports sees musical acts regularly incorporated into the festivities. Video game publishers steer into this, often with impressive results.
Over the last several years there have been many unique and entertaining connections between esports and music. Whether it’s live performances at events, new songs designed to promote a tournament, or special renditions of the titles’ music, there’s a lot of fond memories.
Here are the best of the best.
We’re a bit biased on this front, but WINNERS League happens to have some really fun musical performances with each broadcast.
Between games, DJs will play special sets to keep fans entertained between games. This is a fun departure from the esports norm of running the same three ads or just playing forgettable tracks as a timer counts down. The extra bit of content has been praised by both fans and pro players like Complexity Gaming’s Benjamin “blameF” Bremer when they swing by to check out the action.
Big esports events often start off with a musical performance and it doesn’t get much bigger in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive than ESL One Cologne. The event is one of the biggest of the year, trailing only behind the biannual majors. ESL goes above and beyond to make sure these events feel special.
With that in mind, ESL One Cologne 2018 kicked off in an impressive way with a mixed performance that combined dubstep and classical music. Though it wasn’t unanimously popular at the time, this has aged well and is a good way to kick off this list.
Get Jinxed was the perfect way to introduce the newest “hypercarry” to the Summoner’s Rift. The energetic song fits Jinx’s anarchistic and powerful personality and comes alongside an entertaining animation that never gets old.
While many of League of Legends’ songs fall into the pop category, Get Jinxed has a faster and heavier tone than one would expect. Riot Games has done great work creating music for the franchise, but this stands apart from its peers in the best possible way.
2019 has been a rollercoaster of a year for Fortnite, with cool moments like the Fortnite World Cup and epic kaiju battle being mired by various competitive controversies and the disastrous Season X. One thing that was really neat and didn’t carry any kind of asterisk was the Marshmello concert
Millions of Fortnite fans gathered for the virtual show, leaving their weapons at the door. The event was an incredibly unique one that the community unanimously looks back on in a positive way.
Overwatch has a very unique aesthetic and that isn’t limited to its visuals. The game has a memorable theme song with one of the most recognizable motifs in video game music.
Back in 2017, Overwatch’s popularity was at its peak, which was demonstrated well at that year’s installment of The Game Awards. To celebrate the event, and the fact Overwatch won a few awards, Blizzard put on a live performance of the game’s theme.
Legends Never Die was the Worlds anthem for 2017 and it remains one of the best musical pieces made by Riot Games. This emotional song featuring Against The Current took players on a journey and talked about the struggles we face to get to the top.
It quickly became a favorite among League of Legends fans and remains one of the most memorable songs related to the game. Memorable enough that Against The Current singer Chrissy Costanza would return in 2019 to work with Cailin Russo on another Worlds theme in Phoenix.
When Dota 2 officially exited its beta phase, it was accompanied by a massive UI update. Included in that were some aesthetic overhauls and a new song for the game’s main menu.
The Dota 2 Reborn theme didn’t just spirit itself into existence, though. It was brought to life by a full symphony orchestra that included brass, strings, and a choir. Valve filmed it being performed and seeing the birth of a song that players have likely heard hundreds of times is a treat.
The team behind PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds doesn’t get enough credit for how much work they’ve done fleshing out the world behind the game. Though PUBG was initially a straightforward battle royale title, the developers have added an entire backstory to the game’s world.
They added an epic piece of music for this as well with the Erangel Orchestra. The piece was used alongside some of the trailers for the launch of Season 4 and is worth listening to for any lapsed fans of the game.
There’s a reason this single placed in the Finnish Top 50 music chart in March. Inspired by a meme, the catchy tune became ENCE’s theme song for the IEM Katowice Major. The squad walked onto the stage for the finals with the track blasting, proudly holding the Finnish flag.
The song was an overnight hit, though it has since caused some CSGO fans frustration due to its addition to the game as a music kit. Still, this song was an important part of the team’s story at the event and added to what was a historic run for the squad.
The 2019 League of Legends World Championship has a lot of musical performances attached to it, including Cailin Russo and Chrissy Costanza’s Phoenix and the upcoming debut single of True Damage. However, the best piece of music attached to the event is the orchestral piece run as bumpers between segments.
Though fans don’t hear it in its entirety during broadcasts, the Worlds 2019 theme properly conveys the gravity and significance of the largest esports event of the year. The numerous movements seem to be designed to reflect the ebbs and flows of a game, which isn’t what one would expect from an orchestral piece.
When you listen to Basshunter’s DotA, it sounds like straightforward Eurodance music. What makes it live on among Dota 2 fans is how obvious it is that Basshunter really and truly was a DotA fan. The lyrics to the song discuss hanging out with friends on Ventrilo, killing creeps, and pushing lanes.
This isn’t just a coincidence, either. The official music video for the song shows Basshunter playing the original version of the game as Tiny when he isn’t on-stage wearing silly wraparound sunglasses.