There are a lot of real-time strategy games out there, however, one of the most popular and impressive to watch performed is StarCraft II. While this title can be easy to pick up and play, there’s an exceptional amount of depth to the three different alien races. Pros not only know how to get the most out of their respective units but showcase a true understanding for the various builds and combinations players can create. This culminates in impressive battles that feel more like an elegant dance rather than two players smashing their armies together.
Yet, the real skill comes when players can perform an extensive list of commands and placements within seconds. A professional StarCraft II player’s understanding of the game is a master class in speed, precision, and memory for each keystroke and shortcut available. It’s almost dizzying to watch how fast the top level players can go when they’re in an intense match up.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
While everyone has their preference for which title in this fighting series they like to view, we’re going with what many consider to be the best. Super Smash Bros. Melee was a title that was originally designed as a party game but was eventually co-opted by higher level players that wanted to push the game to the next level. This was done by exploiting techniques within the game such as Wavedashing, that gave users the ability to artificially speed the pace up of combat dramatically.
The biggest factor, however, was that Melee had no set combos that players needed to memorize like in Mortal Kombat. This gave an immense amount of freedom to users and allowed them to effectively create their own chaotic combinations for fighting. By doing this, the professional players turned melee from a simple fighting game into a master class of skill and speed that was rarely ever challenged within the genre. With such a diverse cast of characters, it was always intriguing to see who played what hero and how their style differentiated from others. Plus, watching Mario get beat up by Link or Kirby is always entertaining.
Call of Duty
Call of Duty and esports is a rather potent duo regardless of how you feel about this divisive FPS series. This twitch shooter rewards quick reflexes, map knowledge, and perfect aim which can make for some intense standoffs. Battles are exceptionally fast, with users performing impressive kills and maneuvers to get the slightest edge on their opponents in gun fights. However, once the more futuristic gear and movement abilities got added in, Call of Duty became even more of a spectacle to witness at the highest levels of play. Giving users the ability to double jump and wall run has added new dimensions to combat that were previously not seen.
Couple this with the objective focused game modes and viewers may be surprised at the sheer level of teamwork needed to achieve victory. Matches always look chaotic, yet theirs a grander design at play with teams masterfully making use of positioning and chokepoints to hold capture points or secure flags. This results in an interesting blend of high-octane gunfights and objective based gameplay that very few titles can match.
Speaking of objective based shooters, Overwatch may be the newest kid on the block but it’s sure making its mark quickly. This class/hero based FPS focuses around two teams of six attempting to complete a variety of different objectives across a plethora of maps. There are currently 23 heroes available for players to pick from, each one offering their own pros and cons that can be utilized to great effectiveness. Every character offers an “easy to play, hard to master” mentality that is showcased wonderfully by professional players, as they offer audiences a chance to see the characters’ abilities pushed to their limits.
Yet, it’s the wonderful combinations each team comes up with that makes Overwatch such a unique shooter to witness. Characters working perfectly in sync with each other as their abilities create fantastic chaos on the battlefield. Well designed visuals and character models makes it easy to follow all of the action without getting lost. Besides, what other video game offers a rocket powered knight, robotic monk, and grenade launching lunatic for your viewing pleasure?
While there are tournaments focused around the variety of rhythm-based games such as Dance Dance Revolution there’s something captivating about watching someone absolutely dominate the game. However, the best aspect of watching someone play these games is that viewers will sometimes inadvertently stumble across a highly skilled player at an arcade. Given these machines often require users to be in perfect sync with the machine and have lighting fast reflexes it can create quite a spectacle. This gets even crazier when players decide to use both players gamepads and take on songs that were normally designed for two users. It’s beyond impressive and showcases insane dedication and talent for those who have mastered these titles.
League of Legends/DOTA 2
We’re cheating a bit here and combining both of these legendary MOBAs simply because it comes more down to personal taste for viewing. Both of these games have a high skill cap for those looking to call themselves professional, which can makes viewing these games such a fascinating spectacle. Not only does each game boast a staggering number of champions to pick from but players are allowed to ban choices before each match. This turns both of these titles into elaborate games of chess, toying with the oppositions mind before the map is even loaded up.
However, once the match is underway users are in for a treat as the pinpoint precision and tactics these teams come up with keeps the viewing experience exciting. Battles are fast and furious with the smallest changes making the biggest difference in team fights. Even though there’s a lot going on during fights, getting a chance to witness the sheer level of skill on display never gets old for these MOBAs.
Rocket League took the world by storm when it released back in 2015, so it should come as no surprise this momentum based sports game gathered a huge competitive following. While the game itself is simplistic on paper, it’s when players begin to master the variety of boosts and jumps offered via their rocket powered vehicles. There’s a unique complexity to this game that elevates beyond just another fun party game to play with friends. Given this title is mostly about mastering its physics, watching people play who have a deep understanding of the mechanics is always a treat. Matches are rarely ever one sided and there are plenty of cheer-worthy moments that high-level players offer.
On the opposite end of the spectrum for fighting games is the classic Street Fighter series that still to this day is a joy to watch at a professional level. Even though it has a more traditional design, the impressive use of combos and characters that players can display makes for an entertaining viewing experience.
Each character offers their own suite of abilities and techniques, making each match up feel different and unique. However, it’s the highly polished design and mechanics that allows Street Fighter players to deliver amazing comebacks or devastating victories. This is only made more impressive by how professional players are able to chain together multiple, elaborate combos that require both fast reflexes and acute knowledge of that fighters particular move set.
Yes, Mirror’s Edge doesn’t exactly have an esports scene however that doesn’t make high-level playing of this free-running action game any less impressive. If you’ve every watched into a speed run of this game then you are quite aware of how insane some of the moves players can pull off are.
Given this entire title is based around going as fast as possible while using the environment to your advantage, this can produce some seriously impressive moments. There’s a lot of freedom for how users can approach objectives, which helps cultivate some movement based combos that players may have never thought of. While any game is impressive to watch during a speed run, Mirror’s Edge stands out as one of the most awe-inspiring thanks to the sheer technical prowess.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
There are imitators and then there are originators and CS:GO is by far one of the most popular and important competitive titles ever released. This is thanks to the solid gameplay and refined shooting mechanics that rewards players that can balance both skill and strategy. It’s this mentality that helps raise CS:GO’s gameplay beyond simply trying to plant a bomb and makes it a massive chess game among the players who are trying to slowly gain as much of an advantage as possible. Matches can range from fast and bloody to slow and deliberate, making every round a unique experience unto its own.
Combine this with the fact that each user only has one life and CS:GO can create some wonderfully tense situations that will keep fans on the edge of their seat. Yet, this title adds even more depth via its weapon purchasing system that forces players to think about what weapons or armor they will need now. This helps make some interesting moments where players will sometimes make unexpected picks or come back from several losses after regaining a strong in-game economy. These are one of, if not the premiere esport to watch professionals play and CS:GO will continue to live on as the highly entertaining experience it is.
Yet, it’s important to acknowledge just how amazing it can be when you witness your favorite game pushed to its absolute limits. This not only inspires players with the notion that this can be achieved themselves but offers an entertaining experience for fans of their game of choice. Now if you excuse us we need to continue trying to perfect our Dance, Dance, Revolution skills.