The most unusual esports games

Esports was first introduced to the world by Atari in 1980 when they hosted the Space Invaders Championship. As video games have grown in popularity over the years, so have competitive gameplay tournaments. More people than ever are attending competitions and accepting events in the sports world, even going so far as to arrange betting odds for players.

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The most common games played competitively include League of Legends and Call of Duty, but as with all sports, there are real niche games with intense competition. Some make sense depending on the game type, while others are as random as they are fun to watch.


10/10 Catherine (2011)

Catherine is a game developed by the folks who brought us Persona, and it’s had a wide range of reception since its release in 2011. The story centers around a guy trying to strike up a relationship with one of two women . You solve block puzzles to progress through the game, and in multiplayer mode you race against your opponent to get to the top of the puzzle first.

He first appeared in competition at the NorCal Install Tournament, but has since been hosted at EVO.

9/10 GeoGuessr (2013)

Potentially one of the least likely games to come to mind when discussing esports, GeoGuessr is all about looking at the street level view of a map. The closer you get to correctly guessing where you were dropped on the map, the more points you earn. It’s a casual game that lets you explore the world through gameplay, with single and multiplayer modes.

The multiplayer mode has made it the competitive game its fans love. GeoGuessr and Reddit often host events, and he has a large following on Twitch.

8/10 Age Of Empires (1997 – Present)

Age of Empires was first released in 1997, with several iterations of the title having since been developed. A real-time strategy game that puts you in the Stone Age and lets you build your own civilization from the ground up, the game itself doesn’t seem like a highly competitive concept. However, each game in the series has inspired tournaments to see who can build the strongest empire.

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Age of Empires has seen competitive matches at Red Bull Wololo, among other events, and is streaming on Twitch and YouTube for fans to view.

7/10 Farming Simulator (2008 – present)

The first Farming Simulator was released in 2008 and continues to run, with new games being added to the series roughly every few years. The gameplay is literally what the title suggests: high yielding simulated farming. Even as a casual game, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s far from most people’s top priority when listing esports.

Leagues are formed and tournaments are held in 15-minute matches, resulting in intense players that can be a lot of fun to watch. Hosted by Farming Simulator League, the tournament payout can be huge – over $9,000.

6/10 Zwift (2014)

Zwift is an online cycling and racing game that lets people train and race virtually. Logically, cycling and running are physical sports, so switching to esports is reasonable. Still, mass following is unlikely, given the game’s niche.

The UCI Cycling Esports World Championships are the primary host for these events, with each race mapped to a different city; 2022 took place in New York with two 50 kilometer races.

5/10 OSU! (2007)

Many music and rhythm games are played competitively, but osu! has a unique and passionate fan base that attends tournaments. The game is free to play and has over 19 million active players.

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The osu! The World Cup is held every year, with mini-tournaments held throughout the year for beginners and experts. The community is as supportive as it is competitive, with players from around the world participating in every event.

4/10 Shaq Fu (1994)

Shaq Fu is a game as unlikely in its design as it is in its inclusion in modern esports. Starring basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, Shaq Fu is a fighting game from EA in the mid-90s. it has found a renaissance in competitive gameplay.

One of the most notable hosts of Shaq Fu tournaments is the CEO of Daytona, who runs Shaq Fu as a side tournament that can be entered for free. Support for these tournaments has been so strong that in 2018 and onwards, Shaq Fu: A Legend Reborn was released.

3/10 Dead by Daylight (2016)

Dead By Daylight is a 4v1 multiplayer where players are assigned a role in a horror story – either as a killer or as one of the potential victims trying to escape death. Due to the nature of the game, it lends itself well to competitive play that is fun to watch or participate in.

Tournaments are held on community forums like Discord and can be viewed on Twitch. Although it doesn’t have a large number of events, Dead By Daylight does offer professional and amateur leagues and tournaments with cash prizes, some of which are purely for charity.

2/10 Shrek Super Slam (2005)

Although none of the Shrek games can claim to have been hugely successful when released, Shrek SuperSlam had strong popularity in the mid-2000s. A fighting game featuring characters from the Shrek movies, up to four people can play at the same time.

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Tournaments for Shrek SuperSlam are hosted online – one of the biggest being ShrekFest – and have cash prizes, although they tend to be small amounts. The main rewards are the bragging rights and the strong community that players have built.

1/10 Turbo Racing League (2013)

Turbo Racing League is a free mobile game based on the 2013 DreamWorks Turbo movie about a snail obsessed with becoming a professional racer. The game gained most of its popularity through DreamWorks’ collaboration with Verizon to create a series of tournaments as a promotion for the film.

Over two months and nine tournaments, DreamWorks paid out $1 million to winners, cementing its place in esports history.

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