Which esports are the most popular in 2023?

By William Davis

|

May 15, 2023

Reading time: 5 min

There’s no other form of entertainment quite like esports, but which competitive games are the most popular in 2023?

Professional gaming has become the world’s newest form of international entertainment. And that, in turn, has spawned a new generation of professional players. To celebrate the majestic rise of esports, let’s take a look at the most legendary competitive titles that are incredibly popular as of 2023.

#10 Call of Duty

Call of Duty: Warzone

Kicking off our list, we’ve got the legendary first-person shooter franchise Call of Duty. The series’ devoted fan base and frequent releases have helped make the Call of Duty franchise a household name in the esports world. The Call of Duty League by Activision divides the finest players in the world into 12 professional teams with enormous prize pools to fight for. Thanks to constant developer support and mainstream appeal, CoD maintains its status as the gaming world’s premier action first-person shooter.

#9 Hearthstone

Blizzard’s card game offering Hearthstone has been one of the dominant forces in esports ever since its 2014 release. Hearthstone’s accessibility and strategic complexity have attracted players of all skill levels and experience. There are many major tournaments for Hearthstone held every year, but the most important one is the World Championship. Between 2016 and 2018, the yearly capstone tournament boasted a prize pool of $1 million.

#8 Rainbow Six Siege

Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege has been destroying it lately in the esports scene due to its unique blend of tactical gameplay and first-person shooter action. It’s character-based team system allows for expressive play, with the title arguably having the deepest gameplay of any FPS esport at the highest level. The Rainbow Six Pro League hosts competitions and tournaments for professional teams from all around the world.

#7 Fortnite

Fortnite Coachella festival

With its fresh twist on the battle royale genre and exciting in-game events, Fortnite from Epic Games has taken the gaming world by storm. The game’s popularity among content creators, broadcasters, and competitive players has remained consistent throughout the game’s esports’ ups and downs. Tournaments like the Fortnite World Cup, presented by Epic Games, have included $30 million prize pools. This makes Fortnite champions some of the richest esports gamers of all time. 

#6 Apex Legends

Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends has quickly become the king of the hardcore battle royale genre. Its fast-paced gameplay, unique character abilities, and eye-popping visuals have helped it carve out a position in the gaming world among casual and competitive players alike. The Apex Legends Global Series is the game’s premier event, featuring the best players and teams from all around the globe.

#5 Valorant

The studio behind League of Legends, Riot Games, broke new ground with its CSGO competitive Valorant. Due to its strategic gameplay, unique character traits, and availability on betting sites like Match.Center, Valorant has gained a dedicated fanbase in the esports community. It’s also quite young compared to the other most popular esports games in 2023, giving it plenty of room to grow. The Valorant Champions Tour is the game’s highest tournament series, including tournaments in several regions of the globe.

#4 Dota 2

Blog post image

Even in 2023 more than ten years after its release, Dota 2 remains one of the most popular esports worldwide due to its staggering complexity and eye-popping prize pools. The annual championship event, The International, has dominated the top ten prize pools of all time, occupying a total of nine spots on the list. It also retains the biggest esports prize of all time with $40 million for The International 10. There are many top-tier teams and players in the professional Dota 2 scene. Therefore, the competition stays fierce and exciting throughout the years.

#3 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Of all the esports on this list, Valve’s tactical shooter Counter-Strike: Global Offensive may be the most developed. It has a legacy stretching back to the early 2000s, giving it the most history of any competitive video game. CSGO also invented the tactical shooter genre, which several other mentioned games like Siege and Valorant have riffed off of. The game’s top teams compete in twice-a-year Major Championships for bragging rights and monetary awards.

#2 League of Legends

If you’ve heard of only one esport, it’s probably League of Legends. Riot Games’ MOBA has amassed a global fanbase of millions of players because of its fast-paced yet strategic gameplay and ever-evolving meta. The professional League of Legends scene includes major tournaments like the LCS in North America and the LEC in Europe. The LCK in Korea is considered the most competitive division, and teams from the country regularly shine at international events. Millions of people tune in every year to see the greatest teams in the world compete at the League of Legends World Championship.

#1 Overwatch

Overwatch 2 Lunar event

It may be a surprise to experienced gamers, but Blizzard Entertainment currently rules the roost with its class-based arena shooter. Since its launch in 2016, Overwatch has acquired a dedicated esports fanbase because of its diverse roster of characters, engaging gameplay, and colorful visual design. The recent release of Overwatch 2 has reignited the title in the eyes of mainstream gamers. The game’s compelling gameplay and well-organized league structure have helped make Overwatch the most popular esport by many metrics, making the annual Overwatch League a spectacle to see.

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