The competitive online gaming space has been going from strength to strength in recent years – a fact which surprises no one, as new consoles continue to enjoy record sales figures and platforms like Twitch continue to revolutionize the way we enjoy video games. A recent poll of eSports executives also revealed confidence in eSports growth, as a combined result of investment and engagement from larger companies and the expansion of streaming platforms. With competitive online gaming going absolutely nowhere, 2022 is the next-best opportunity for you to join in on the fun – but which games will be popular in 2022?
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is set to celebrate its 10th birthday in 2022, and yet, despite its age relative to other titles, remains one of the most popular current eSports titles for competitive play. The game’s concept couldn’t be simpler: a first-person shooter with a range of casual or ranked online multiplayer game modes, and a heavy emphasis on teamwork, tactical precision and control over the game’s various weapons. The simplicity is part of its appeal, stripping away any elements of luck and giving players complete control over their own performance.
With regard to ranked play, the CS:GO rank distribution in 2022 will receive some flak just as it did in other years, owing to discrepancies in leveling which could make the difficulty curve steep for new players. However, the game itself is proof positive that competitive deathmatches are not only alive and well, but thriving in 2022.
Valorant is a relatively new entry into the online gaming space, but presents a powerful case for gamers not content with the strait-laced gameplay and aesthetic of CS:GO. The title from Riot Games marries the taut team-based gameplay of Counter-Strike with a hero-based system incorporating unique abilities, and does it through the lens of an endlessly stylish aesthetic. The barrier to entry is low for Valorant, so it has already cemented itself as a hugely popular title – but 2022 will only see its profile rise, as well as the level of competition on the platform.
League of Legends
If first-person shooters aren’t quite your thing, then 2022 is the year you dip your toes into the MOBA genre. League of Legends is a quintessential eSports game, arguably responsible for the explosion of interest in video game tournaments and professional play globally. With the recent release of a Netflix series set in the LoL universe, it is seeing a renaissance in interest and a boost to its consistently-high player base. The battle arenas of LoL combine area control, character management and tactical skill in a unique game style that is sure to have you hooked all year.
Of course, these are just three titles, representing the pinnacle of their genres, with stable and growing playerbases and a guaranteed fun time whatever your skill level – but if they don’t appeal to you, here are some honorable mentions. Apex: Legends has become a firm favorite battle royale, eschewing the gimmicks of Fortnite to deliver a nuanced, complex and engaging experience based on situational awareness and hero abilities combined. For a more immersive role-playing experience that retains a competitive element, Final Fantasy XIV offers the perfect opportunity to build a character through PvE in order to compete PvP. Whichever way you play, 2022 promises to be a deeply exciting year for online play.