Picture 10,000 people in an arena, cheering wildly as they watch competitors locked in an intense battle displayed on huge screens. This is a pro-sporting event, to be sure, except not in the traditional sense. Esports – the highest level of competitive gaming – is where the best go head-to-head and fans gather to watch, either live or via streaming video.
The movement is growing, with more players, more games and more fans. Some events can draw 40 million online viewers.
What are the stakes?
In the big competitions, where only the top players qualify, spoils can range from a USD$125,000 prize pool for a vainglory event to a staggering USD$20 million for the Dota 2 International Championship.
I’m intrigued. How do I explore?
Although anyone can become an esports competitor, the easiest way to dive in is as a spectator. But before you do, it’s a good idea to play a few games first.
Clash Royale is a great starter game. The rules of this card-based strategy game are straightforward enough that you’ll get the gist after a few matches.
And you can view live competitions right in the Clash Royale app. On the main screen, tap the small TV icon, then select one of the battles. You’ll find most skilled players sparring in the Legendary Arena.
Watching pros duel will give you a glimpse of the high-level strategies involved, and you’ll also get to peek at the cards players unlock as they move up the ranks.
Where else I can watch?
Many other games have built-in spectator modes, but the Twitch app lets you view nearly every game in one spot.
This streaming platform is devoted almost entirely to esports, and each day it bubbles up trending games and high-stakes tournaments. It’s best way to discover new games and watch the master compete.
If you’re looking for a more personal experience, we recommend Caffeine.tv , an app that streams games and entertainment.
in Caffeine.tv , you focus on the friends you follow rather than a specific game or subject. You can even connect with others by broadcast live yourself!
What kind of games are there?
Although esports span many different genres, the most popular are multiplayer online battles arenas (MOBAs), in which teams compete to invade their enemies’ bases. In these matches, teamwork, quick reflexes and flexibility are paramount.
The MOBAs Arena of Valor and Vainglory were built for touchscreens and feature a huge cast of fighters to take into battle.
Card games are hugely popular esports on iPhone and iPad, thanks to their intuitive touch screen controls and short gameplay sessions. But even the briefest matches can be packed with white-knuckle action.
Hearthstone, for example, has straightforward rules, but watching the masters attack, defend and pivot to different tactics can be as engaging as a high-intesity tennis match.
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