The world of competitive gaming has enjoyed a remarkable rise to prominence in recent years and it has turned several gamers into multimillionaire celebrities. Fans pack out stadiums to watch their heroes compete, while millions more across the globe stream the action live.
Leading blue chip companies are sponsoring big tournaments, the pool of pro players is soaring on a monthly basis, and the whole scene is growing increasingly organized and dynamic. The PC is the dominant medium for esports, but consoles play an important role too and there are some fantastic options for Xbox enthusiasts to consider:
Halo is Microsoft’s most important exclusive title and it boasts a thriving esports scene. The Halo 5: Guardians World Championship 2016 carried prize money of $2.5 million, leaving it comfortably nestled among the top 20 richest esports tournaments of all time. In total, 231 professional players have shared more than $7 million by competing in 75 different Halo 5: Guardians competitions.
The 2016 worlds used a compendium model, REQ Packs, to boost the prize pool, while the 2017 and 2018 World Championships saw just $1 million apiece. Yet that is still enough to ensure several pros can make a good living by playing this legendary first-person shooter, and the likes of Lethul, Frosty, Royal 2 and Snakebite have seized fame and fortune by playing Halo. There is also a Halo Championship Series to look out for, and it has featured at DreamHack events around the world too.
FIFA is one of the world’s most popular esports and Xbox players reign supreme in tournaments. Last year, more than 20 million gamers entered a ferociously competitive qualification campaign to make it through to the FIFA eWorld Cup Finals. That huge group was whittled down to 32 leading stars, 16 of them playing on the Xbox and the other 16 on PlayStation. Saudi Arabia’s Msdossary dazzled with his brilliance throughout the tournament and seized the Xbox crown, before destroying PlayStation champions StefanoPinna in a two-legged, cross-console Grand Final and clinching the trophy, plus a $250,000 prize pool.
Xbox players prevail in the vast majority of cross-console finals and it has a reputation as a breeding ground for the world’s finest players. Msdossary went to the FIFA Best Football Awards last summer and mingled with the likes of Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah, and he was met with the sort of reverence reserved for celebrities. This year’s eWorld Cup promises to be even more competitive, with F2Tekkz leading the world rankings ahead of Msdossary and several exciting up-and-coming stars bidding to make a name for themselves.
This bizarre title sees teams of turbo-charged cars playing football against one another and it makes for surprisingly thrilling gameplay. Hordes of gamers have been dazzled by the physics-based mechanics, mid-air juggling and vehicular mayhem that ensues in this frenetic, madcap game.
It has a dedicated base of PC gamers, but if you prefer racing about the pitch, scoring goals and making last-ditch saves with a controller, you can play Rocket League online on Xbox One.
Rocket League is now one of the world’s most important esports, replete with a busy calendar of tournaments and prize pools that are growing progressively larger. Several major franchises have teams and American outfit Cloud9 beat European side Team Dignitas in the final of the Rocket League Championship Series 6 in November 2018. More than 160,000 fans watched the action unfold on Twitch, and the game has a very loyal and passionate base of supporters.
Developer Epic Games is desperate to turn its flagship title into one of the world’s biggest esports and it is pumping obscene sums of money into the competitive gaming season. This year alone has seen it inject $100 million into the nascent Fortnite esports scene and that has been enough for it to see off competitors like Apex Legends and PUBG in the popularity stakes.
The world’s leading players and streamers have realized how rich Fortnite can make them and a thriving competitive scene is the best way for Epic to secure longevity for the game.
The Fortnite Fall Skirmish carried prize money of $4 million in an opening salvo last year, while the $30 million World Cup Finals will take place in July 2019. That will see it overtake Dota 2’s The International as the most lucrative esports tournament in history. One of Fortnite’s greatest strengths is the cross-platform play it offers, allowing Xbox gamers to team up with friends on the PC or PS4. Betting on Fortnite esports tournaments is also becoming huge, as you can see from the latest Unikrn esports odds, while the number of large sponsors in the game continues to grow.
Overwatch is a brilliant first-person shooter and it has also gone on to become the world’s fourth most popular esport. That leaves it behind only League of Legends, CS:GO and Dota 2 and it is fast catching up.
Prize money for the Overwatch League 2019 has risen to $5 million following sponsorship deals with brands like Bud Light, and that has led a strong collection of professional teams springing up across the world.
The 2018 Overwatch League proved to be a roaring success. London Spitfire ultimately clinched the trophy and the lion’s share of the $3.5 million prize purse after vanquishing Philadelphia Fusion in a packed arena full of screaming fans in New York City.
New European, American and Asian teams have joined the party this year and Overwatch’s footprint continues to grow. It is more popular on PC than on Xbox, but it remains one of the best Xbox One esports games around and you can compete online if you feel you are good enough to mix it with the best in the business.