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Top 5 Titles Pro Competitive Gamers are Playing

Earlier this month, I wrote a post featuring the explosive growth of one of competitive gaming’s leagues rising stars, MLG (Major League Gaming), whose popularity can be writ large for the success of the industry in general. The competitive gaming genre has finally pushed its way into the mainstream.

Sony just announced its partnership with MLG for an “eSports” initiative, a huge acknowledgement by a company that has lagged behind Microsoft in the online gaming space. It’s even speculated (by the CEO of MLG) that the league’s popularity could spawn its own competitive gaming title. If you thought the explosion in popularity was impressive over the last few years, just get ready for the next five. And there’s a reason competitors are looking for insane custom gaming PCs with lightning-fast accessories to shave milliseconds off of their response times. Everyone wants an edge up on the competition.

So, what games are being played in tournaments? Well, for games to have potential for competitive play, there has to be a skill gap in which the truly gifted player can rise to prominence. Not just any FPS or strategy title will do. The following list of games allows great competitive play in which elite gamers can excel and rise to the top.


First-person shooters are often the first thing people think when they talk about competitive multiplayer action, and the community built up around Counter-Strike is near the top of the list. There’s a definite skill level to a game like CS, and it acts as a barrier to entry for casual players.

You can find competitive leagues on every continent, in multiple languages. Valve even sponsors map workshops for users to submit custom tactical maps that they can host games on. That level of customization, combined with the ability of the harnessing a large population of gamers, makes this an ideal candidate for competitive play all over the world.

Super Street Fighter IV

A game like Street Fighter has always been designed to weed out casual gamers from the advanced humanoids among us having unnatural reflexes. The super-fast action and multitude of character choices has spawned a myriad of different playing styles, with endless debates over the benefits of one character versus another.

If you remember with fondness, the days of hitting the pizza parlor and dumping twenty bucks in quarters into the SF machine get ready for a reality check. The level of competition is fierce. There’s nothing like getting owned by a foul-mouthed 9 year-old to force you to re-evaluate your life choices and choose a different game to compete on.

Battlefield 3

Another shooter that’s strained many gaming machines to the max is Battlefield 3. Aside from just being a beautiful game with an awesome campaign, the title has morphed into one of the premiere FPS titles for competition, with Team Deathmatch emerging as the runaway leader as the most popular game mode.

One of the main advantages BF3 has in a tournament sense is simply the massive audience it has gathered. In a gaming market that’s saturated with FPS titles, that’s an impressive achievement. You’ll get plenty of practice, and I’d say BF3 is a superior entry title for prospective competitive gamers.

League of Legends

These last two titles dominate the professional gaming spaces. League of Legends instantly landed numerous awards, a huge win for Riot Games, and it’s turned into one of the titles you just can’t avoid when talking about eSports.

Everything was designed for scalable multiplayer action from the get-go. The game mechanics of 5-vs-5 and 3-vs-3 maps give you a chance to specialize in different types of team dynamics and strategies. Players from the US to Europe to China have made this a household name and a gold standard for competitive gaming.

StartCraft 2

Last, but absolutely not least, is Blizzard’s knocked-out-of-the-park sequel to its original StarCraft masterpiece. It was a foregone conclusion that players would take the skills they honed for over a decade playing the original into the new-and-improved version, but the release of the Heart of the Swarm expansion really took things to a new level, coinciding with a huge surge in online competitive play’s popularity.

The game has drawn a lot of hardcore folks from WoW, a persistent success by Blizzard, despite what you’ve heard. And it will no doubt be the premiere game for RTS players, with nothing else even coming close, in my opinion, in game-play or popularity.

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