With the rise of organisations like
Major League Gamingand
World Cyber Games, and sites like
Twitch(where gamers can watch each other play live), the idea of making money by becoming a professional gamer is becoming increasingly feasible.
In fact, a number of gamers are already making six-figure incomes from their winnings alone – not counting lucrative salaries from joining teams, winning contests and gaining sponsorships.
Where does a gamer who’s intrigued by the idea of playing for real money start?
We’ve gone through the event lists of some of the largest gaming competitions in the world to find out. No matter what kind of game you’re into, there’s probably something you’ll find that’s to your liking. What’s more, many of the games are free-to-play.
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm - The big daddy of professional games, StarCraft is huge in professional gaming around the world (especially in South Korea). The best players have earned hundreds of thousands in winnings and upwards of $US1 million dollars when including salaries. Nearly every gaming league has events dedicated to StarCraft 2.
League of Legends - This free-to-play game is not only the most-played online game in the world, it's also created a huge e-sports scene. Competitions are run through its creator, Riot Games, as well as Major League Gaming and World Cyber Games, among others.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 - The current 'AAA' shooter of choice for professional gamers, Call of Duty is both easy to get into for beginners and extremely technical for elite players. The biggest tournaments are run by Major League Gaming.
Dota 2 - Another free-to-play game that plays very similarly to League of Legends. Created by the studio behind the famous Half-Life series, Dota 2 is known for an insane amount of depth and huge cash prizes.
World of Tanks - Another free-to-play title, World of Tanks made its professional debut at the 2012 World Cyber Games and has only become more popular since then.
Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne - Another strategy title from Blizzard, Warcraft 3 is still going strong after more than 10 years on the market. If you're still in love with the game, World Cyber Games still hosts professional competitions.
Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition - One of the best fighting games ever made, Street Fighter 4 is featured in tournaments hosted by EVO, Dreamhack, and World Cyber Games.
Quake Live - Based on Quake 3, one of the first shooters with a major competitive gaming scene, Quake Live is notable for letting you play for free right in the web browser. Tournaments are hosted by the developer, id Software, as well as Dreamhack and others.
FIFA 14 - If sports games are your thing, you're going to have to go with FIFA to play professionally. Fantastic gameplay combined with international appeal have made FIFA a regular title at the World Cyber Games since 2001.
Cross Fire - If you're looking for something a bit less mainstream, the World Cyber Games hosts tournaments for South Korea's free-to-play shooter Cross Fire. It's an interesting take on a genre traditionally dominated by Western studios.
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