Over the past several years esports have grown to become a worldwide phenomenon. There are a range of reasons why this is the case, with the chief cause among them being the unprecedented global events of 2020 onwards. This led to a wave of cancellations among mainstream sporting events, and it just so happened that competitive gaming was perfectly suited to capitalise on this windfall. Now esports is the fastest growing media and entertainment sector in the world, and is witnessing a huge influx of investment and sponsorship. Even established bookmakers such as Skybet are increasingly providing free bet offers for esports events, a strong signifier of competitive gaming’s mainstream arrival. Yet esports is nothing new – in fact there have been competitive gaming events as far as the 1970s. In spite of this, the term “esports” itself didn’t enter common usage until the year 2000 when it was used in a press release by the South Korean government, who were making a push to improve the country’s internet infrastructure at the time and began to endorse competitive gaming events in the nation.
New Platforms and Demographics
While esports became incredibly popular in South Korea, Japan and neighbouring countries throughout the 2000s, it wasn’t until the 2010s that a noticeable spike in competitive gaming popularity began to take hold in the rest of the world. This is thought to be due to the fact that South Korea has a far more integrated internet-cafe culture than other parts of the world. There is a strong correlation between the growth of esports globally and the increase in sales of gaming laptops and PCs. These became much cheaper in the 2010s, facilitating more would-be esports athletes to get their start in the discipline. Now, with global smartphone ownership up to 83per cent of the total population, we are beginning to see mobile esports and esports events begin to establish themselves as a prominent and growing sector. Below we’re going to take a look at the most popular mobile esports today, many of which are looking set to supplant the likes of DOTA 2 and League of Legends at the top flight of the esports scene.
Garena Free Fire
Among the most popular games downloaded globally across any platform in 2019, Garena Free Fire is a new battle-royale style game that hopes to take a bite out of the enduring success of Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone and PUBG. With controls optimised for mobile, and some of the nicest graphics you’ll find on smart devices today, Free Fire is shaping up to be a serious contender. What’s more, the 2021 Free Fire World Series tournament final, which was hosted in Singapore, actually drew in peak viewership figures of 5.4 million. This is an all time esports record that surpasses even the highs of the League of Legends Championship Series.
Arena of Valor
Alongside battle royales, the most popular esports genre played today is the MOBA. These games, with their many characters, each with unique abilities, and tight squad based teamplay, offer an extremely high potential skill ceiling. As such they have become a proving ground for some of the biggest esports athletes and teams playing today. Among the most successful and popular MOBAs on mobile systems in 2022 is Arena of Valor, which is the international version of the popular Chinese title Honor of Kings. It’s a 5v5 title, and its 2022 World Cup finale is set to award players a piece of a $10 million prize pool, a record for mobile esports.
Mobile Legends: Bang Bang
Another new MOBA, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang innovates on the established genre by prioritising fast and casual-leaning gameplay. Matches only last 10 minutes, and the game relies on its commitment to fasttrack you into new games in just 10 seconds. This makes it uniquely well suited to gamers on the go who still want a slice of MOBA action, without having to dedicate special time to playing them. It’s the fastest growing mobile esport today, and was watched for 386 million hours in 2021, the most of any title.