One of the fastest growing sports industries in the world, esports has brought a range of new terms to the main stream. We break down some of the essential esports terms to know including key stakeholders in esports, esports terminology, the top esports titles and more.
Essential esports terms to know
One of the fastest growing sports industries in the world, esports has brought a range of new terms to the main stream. Whilst this article isn’t exhaustive, it covers some of the most essential esports terms to know.
A brief history of esports
Tracing its origin back to Spacewar! (1962), the first widely-recognised and referenced esports event took place at Stanford University in 1972 with 24 players competing for a subscription to Rolling Stone magazine.
Esports began to enter the mainstream in the 1990s with Street Fighter, Quake, Counter-Strike and StarCraft becoming the staple for LAN (Local Area Network) competitions across North America, Europe and Asia.
StarCraft in particular experienced massive popularity in South Korea becoming the first esports title to have a dedicated ecosystem that broadcast the game’s competitions on South Korean TV.
The top three most popular esports titles as of 2020 are League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) and DOTA 2.
Esports industry terms
Esports: An abbreviation of electronic sports, it refers to and describes a video game that has a professional competitive scene. It also refers to the professional competitive gaming scene as a whole.
Org: An abbreviation for Organisation.
TO: An abbreviation for Tournament Organiser.
Commentator: Also referred to as shoutcasters and casters, their role in an esports broadcast is to commentate on the game as it plays out. There are two types, colour and play-by-play.
Colour commentator: A colour commentator discusses strategy and tactics within the game as it plays out.
Play-by-play commentator: A play-by-play commentator provides a running commentary of a game.
Shoutcaster / caster: Typically used interchangeably with commentator.
Analyst: Analysts provide pre-match and post-match discussions about the game. A number of analysts are former professional players.
Observer: Part of the production team, an observer controls the camera within the esports title.
Pro: An abbreviation of professional, the term is used to refer to professional players.
GG: Is the acronym for ‘good game’, it is typically used as a term of respect at the end of a game by players. It is a term that is synonymous with esports.
Esports player associations & governing bodies
CSPPA: The abbreviation for the Counter-Strike Players’ Association. Based in Denmark, the association represents professional CS:GO players from around the world and aims to safeguard, protect and promote professional Counter-Strike players’ interests both during and after their active career.
WESA: The abbreviation for the World Esports Association. Currently an inactive organisation, their mission was to become the global benchmark for industry-wide standards within esports.
KESPA: The abbreviation for the Korean Esports Association. Perhaps the most important esports association in South Korea, it is a member of the Korean Olympic Committee and International e-Sports Federation. It is the managing body for 25 esports titles in South Korea which includes League of Legends, DOTA 2 and CS:GO. It hosts an annual tournament known as the KeSPA Cup.
NALCSPA: The abbreviation for the North American League of Legend Championship series Players’ Association. The association specifically covers players in the LoL North American LCS. It is run by a leadership team consisting of former and active professional players.
ESIC: The abbreviation for theEsport Integrity Commission. Established in 2016, they are a not-for-profit association that works with esports stakeholders to protect the integrity of esports competition.
MOBA: An acronym for Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, it refers to games that involve two teams battling each other on a battlefield that features three lanes with the primary objective of destroying the opponent’s base. Examples of MOBAs include League of Legends and DOTA 2.
MMO: An acronym for Massively Multiplayer Online game, it refers to games that a large number of people playing simultaneously. Examples of MMOs are World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XV.
RPG: An acronym for Role-Playing Game, it refers to a player taking on the role of a character within a fictional universe.
FPS: An acronym for First-Person Shooter, it refers to games that involve players controlling a character with a ranged weapon like a gun from the first-person perspective. Examples of FPS games include Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Call of Duty.
RTS: An acronym for Real Time Strategy, it refers to games that involve players collecting resources, building their base and controlling multiple units to eliminate an opponent. An example of an RTS is Starcraft.
FGC: An acronym for Fighting Game Community, it refers to games that involve two players using a controller to fight each other. Examples of FGCs include Street Fighter, Tekken and Super Smash Bros.
BR: An acronym for Battle Royale, it refers to games that involve a large number of players battling on an Island in a free-for-all format where the last remaining player is crowned the winner. Examples of BRs include Player Unknown’s Battle Grounds, Fortnite and Apex Legends.
CCG: An abbreviation for Collectible card game, it refers to games that involve two players collecting and drafting a deck of cards to battle against each other. Examples of CCGs include Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering.
Auto-battler: Two opposing players draft a line-up of AI controlled characters on a chess-inspired board that battle each other. Examples of auto-battlers are TeamFight Tactics and Underlords.
Key esports stakeholders
Tencent: One of the most valuable companies in the world, the China-based company is involved in many industries which includes video games. Tencent has stakes in multiple notable video game entities which includes full ownership of Riot Games (League of Legends) and 40% ownership of Epic Games (Fortnite).
Riot Games: Developer and publisher of popular MOBA League of Legends, the company was founded in September 2006 by Brandon Beck and Marc Merrill.
Valve: Founded in 1996 by Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington, the company is a video game developer, publisher and digital distribution company. Its debut video game title Half-Life would inspire Counter-Strike with the company eventually releasing DOTA 2.
Epic Games: Founded by Tom Sweeney in 1991 and originally known as Potomac Computer Systems. The company would change its name to Epic Games in 1999 alongside relocating its headquarters to Cary, North Carolina. Alongside ownership of the video game engine ‘Unreal Engine’, the company would release the massively popular Battle Royale Fortnite in 2018.
Activision Blizzard: Founded in 2008 with the merger of Activision and Vivendi Games. The company has ownership of game titles such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, Starcraft and World of Warcraft.
EA: An abbreviation for Electronic Arts, the company was founded in 1982 and has ownership of FIFA, Battlefield and Apex Legends among other titles. Notable subsidiaries include BioWare (Anthem & Mass Effect), DICE (Battlefield & Mirrors Edge) and Respawn Entertainment (Apex Legends and Titan Fall).
Ubisoft: Founded by the Guillemot family in 1986, the name was selected to represent ‘ubiquitous software’. The company has a number of notable video game titles in its library of published games which includes Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege, Watch Dogs and the Assassin’s Creed series.
Twitch: Initially known as Justin.tv, Twitch was founded by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear in 2007 as a video live streaming service. The company would officially be rebranded to Twitch.tv in 2014 and within the same year be acquired by Amazon for $970 million. Twitch is considered the leading video game livestreaming website.
MTG: An abbreviation for Modern Times Group it is a digital entertainment company based in Stockholm, Sweden. It owns a number of brands which includes ESL, DreamHack and InnoGames among others.
ESL: An abbreviation for Electronic Sports League, ESL is the largest esports company and operator in the world. Tournaments like the Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One and ESL Pro League attract some of the highest online viewership in the esports space.
DreamHack: A subsidiary under MTG, DreamHack is a Swedish production company specialising in esports tournaments and gaming conventions. It is widely known for hosting some of the largest LAN parties in the world.
RFRSH: Founded in 2016, it is a Danish esports media production company that formerly represented the CS:GO team Astralis before solely representing BLAST Premier.
StarLadder: Founded in 2007, the company is an esports media production company that hosts tournaments in DOTA 2, CS:GO and Hearthstone. It is the largest esports operator in the CIS.
WePlay!: Founded in 2012, it is a Ukraine-based esports media production company that primarily hosts events for DOTA 2 and CS:GO. In January 2020, it hosted its first Valve-sponsored event in the DOTA 2 Bukovel Minor.
PGL: Founded in 2002, it is a Romania-based esports media production company with an extensive history of hosting events in DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Notable events hosted include the Valve-sponsored DOTA 2 Boston Major and CS:GO PGL Krakow Major.
Beyond The Summit: Also known as BTS, the company was founded in 2012 as a DOTA 2 casting project before gaining grassroots traction that saw the company begin to host events for multiple esports titles. Notable events include the DOTA Summit, CS_Summit and Smash Summit.
FACEIT: Founded in 2011 by Niccolo Maisto, Michele Attisani and Allesandro Avallone. It is an esports production company and online matchmaking platform. It hosts events such as the Esports Championship Series and FlashPoint.