Here at Daily Esports, we most certainly have our favorite scenes among the amazingly diverse arenas of esports gaming. 2018 was a stronger year than ever for competitive gaming and many of us were happy to be there for the ride. In honor of a great year of competition, triumph, tragedy, success, growth, and passion, we decided to get together as a team and share some of our favorite competitive games this year. These are the Daily Esports writers’ Competitive Games of the Year!
TJ Denzer – Overwatch
Overwatch isn’t my favorite game to play. I’m much more of a fighting game player and I had my share of competitive experience in BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle this year that I’m happy with and proud of, but when it came to a scene that just continued to impress me, it had to be Overwatch. Overwatch League has the level of production and organization I hope to see every great competitive game strive to achieve. It really does feel like a sport, complete with teams, seasons, roles, and fan involvement that makes me giddy in the same way when Opening Day in Major League Baseball or the first season game in the National Football League are upon us.
Blizzard Activision really pulled out all the stops to make a compelling first year of Overwatch League that everyone could get into. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but they have also shown commitment to smoothing out the rough edges and continuing to grow this thing into a wonderful and awesome thing. With a wealth of new teams revealed, new disciplinary systems on the way, and new season and playoff set-ups to look forward to, I really find myself looking forward to Overwatch League in a way I just don’t feel for any other competitive game right now. I know games like CSGO and League of Legends are still where the bigger money is, but if Overwatch League continues to grow and improve at the rate it’s going, I feel it will be a stellar event for years to come.
Are you as excited for it as I am? Then you should absolutely check out Michael Czar’s series of team breakdowns ahead of Overwatch League Year 2, most recently including the Chengdu Hunters and Vancouver Titans.
Lawrence Tyler Esguerra – League of Legends
Nowadays, League of Legends needs no introduction to esports fans. From its humble beginnings at the Elmia Convention Center in Sweden to selling out the Madison Square Garden, the LoL professional scene has truly grown to incredible heights. Every single year, League of Legends would bring about some amazing storylines and incredible matches for everyone to enjoy. However, 2018 would end up being one of the best years in the esport’s history.
Korea has dominated the competitive LoL scene for so long. In fact, Korea has been recognized as the best region in the world when it comes to League of Legends, and for good reason. A Korean team would end up winning the World Championship every year since 2013. This year would change up the script and flip the scene on its head.
It was the year of the underdog at Worlds. Tournament favorites, like China’s Royal Never Give Up and Korea’s KT Rolster would all be upset by European and Chinese teams. For the first time ever, Korea wouldn’t even make it past the quarterfinals. Cloud9 would make history as North America’s first team to reach the semifinals of Worlds. Fnatic would be the first Western team to reach the Finals since 2011. China’s Invictus Gaming would go on to win their first World Championship.
Viewership numbers were also sky high, with 99.6 million unique viewers and 44 million concurrent viewers at its peak during the Finals. The Finals were broadcast in nineteen languages across more than thirty platforms. 2018 was League of Legends’ best year to date and continues to set the bar for other esports to strive for.
Brad Ballanger – Hearthstone
Hearthstone reached a total of 100 million players this year, making the popularity of Blizzard’s digital card game is undeniable. With Fireside Gatherings happening in rapid succession across the globe and massive eSports tournaments abound, the game has reached an impressive level. This year’s HCT World Championship saw players competing for an impressive $1 million in tournament winnings.
2018 also saw a brilliant upset in Team China defeating the reigning Brazil Team in the Hearthstone Global Games at Blizzcon. Hearthstone also had its highly successful Summer and Fall Championships. Prize money has almost hit $3 million in total. 2019 looks to be an even more promising year for Hearthstone with new open cup tournaments returning to the circuit, and it keeps growing its already staggeringly high playerbase.
Michael Kloos – Rocket League
Considering it’s the only esport I fully follow, my choice would naturally have to go to Rocket League. But that doesn’t mean there’s little excitement for me throughout the year.
In June we saw the rise of the first dynasty with Dignitas winning their second consecutive RLCS world championship after already having won the finals the season before. Pierre “Turbopolsa” Silfver even won his third in a row. The grand final was the perfect example of Rocket League’s hype, with newcomer Justin “jstn” Morales scoring a zero-second goal for NRG to force overtime in the champion-deciding game seven. It was the defining moment of the esport and it’ll be hard, if not impossible, to ever top it. That final alone made it the best year of Rocket League to date, but in the following months we had even more amazing events such as ELEAGUE, Universal Open 2v2, RLCS S6, and one of my personal favorites, the Mannfield Night 5K 1v1 League.
We’ve had so many more events and so many different winners this year. The players are constantly bringing the game to levels us regular players never even thought possible. Mechanics are invented and plays that used to be considered unique are becoming part of a professional player’s basic skill-set. The professional Rocket League scene is as unpredictable as it could possibly be, which makes for insanely exciting events every single time.
Stewart “Avinan” Haas – Heroes of the Storm
This game has been a major part of my life since I began playing in Beta as a way to hang out with my friends online. In college, it was a way for my long-distance friends and I to keep in contact and nourish our friendships despite the distance. This year, however, it led me to begin my work with Daily Esports. I’ve made new friends, connections, and I’ve gained so much experience at this job all because of Heroes of the Storm. Now, I know things have been rough for the game recently with Blizzard deciding to unceremoniously kill the competitive scene right before Christmas.
I was devastated when I heard the news and saw all my favorite streamers moving to other games. But, for anyone else feeling down, look to HeroesLounge.gg. This organization raised over $10,000 dollars towards supporting a community-funded competitive HotS eSports scene for 2019. This is where I’ll be tuning in to see my favorite game played at the highest level and even cast by Khaldor himself. As much as I enjoyed Heroes of the Storm in 2018, I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store as the community comes together around this game.
Tarah Bleier – Fortnite
What can one say about what Fortnite has become? There is a lot! The game now boasts about 200 million registered accounts and has become a truly global phenomenon with amazing personalities to match, such as Ninja and DrLupo. The competitive scene of Fortnite really drew me in because of all its many unique and interesting seasons. They make a really decent effort to make each one unique, and of course adding in all the extra goodies you can purchase to make your experience that much more interesting.
While Fortnite has had its share of controversy this year such as apparently causing gaming addictions in young kids, breaking up marriages etc, it still has a lot going for it.
The competitive scene continues to grow and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. While graphically it may seem childish to some it’s a fun game to get into if you love Battle Royale gameplay. That’s why it’s my pick. Where so many games can often become much of the same thing, Fortnite keeps itself evolving and fresh to stay entertaining.
Kevin Carignan – Dragon Ball FighterZ
When the announcement for Dragon Ball FighterZ came in 2017 it seemed like a dream come true. One of the most popular and influential anime series of all time, Dragon Ball Z, was getting a fighting game made by the anime fighter gods at Arc System Works, the creators of Guilty Gear and Blazblue. I remember having to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. After years of sub par titles, Dragon Ball was finally getting a REAL fighting game. Every character trailer and announcement built the hype to an almost unseen level in the Fighting Game Community.
Then, when the game released in January of this year, it did the unthinkable. It lived up to the hype. The visuals? Gorgeous. The gameplay? Tight, fast, and fun. The competitive scene? Amazing. DBFZ brought players from all walks of the FGC together in a way no other game had before. Street Fighter, Tekken, Mortal Kombat, Marvel, Smash, all players came together for Dragon Ball. In less than a year it has been the first game to top Street Fighter for number of entrants at EVO, has produced a library of hype matches, and even brought in the most casual of players through the lense of Dragon Ball. Dragon Ball FighterZ brought life to the FGC in a way it hadn’t seen in years from both a casual and competitive standpoint, especially through the likes of the DBFZ World Tour. It continues to be one of the most fun games to play and to watch even as we roll into 2019. Also, Android 21 is best waifu – fight me.
Naim Rosinski – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
This year in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been extraordinary. The keyword for most of the year has been one European Danish team, Astralis. The Danish superpower has been deemed to be probably the most dominant any team has ever been in CS:GO. Astralis won ten out of twelve finals including the FACEIT Major in London. Compared to the likes of Get_Right and his NiP back in the day or coldzera and SK Gaming two years ago, Astralis just plays on a whole different level.
To add some spice, 2018 had some shocking and unexpected transfers. The transition from SK Gaming to MIBR with the transfer of Stewie2K and Tarik probably sits right up there among the most astonishing ones, as it ripped apart the last Major winners’ team, Cloud9. Virtus.pro’s Snax was also another surprise, as the Polish beast tried his wits in mousesports. And then we’ve had s1mple, arguably the fan favorite for the best player of 2018, fail to chase his dream of overcoming Astralis for a significant title and most likely Astralis’ device taking best player of 2018.
The mix-up doesn’t stop there as 2018 brought some new underdogs that would surprise time and time again. Definitely smooya along with BIG Clan and CompLexity spur to mind. Both teams shook things up in the FACEIT Major with CompLexity being the first team to book a spot at the play-offs with an incredible 3-0 score.
This was a fantastic year for CSGO with a lot of things going on every single month. One question remains going into 2019. How long will the sheer dominance of Astralis prevail?
Chris Hinton – Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 managed to recapture the thrill I experienced in the Call of Duty franchise a few years ago. Black Ops 4 is essentially Treyarch’s critique of the franchise to-date and is one where even the most basic players can tread happily. Removing the complex movements of recent iterations, adding the ability to gain full XP from kills (EKIA) that were the result of teamwork, and offering new addictive modes such as Heist that level the playing field are all just a few examples of Treyarch reaching out to the disenfranchised COD players who once enjoyed the series. You can read my full thoughts on the multiplayer as well for where it shines brightest.
Players, like myself, who dismissed Black Ops III, Advanced Warfare, and other recent entries have been pulled back into the fold of the COD community. The stellar Blackout mode only adds to the appeal of Black Ops 4. For this reason alone, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is my personal competitive gaming GOTY.
2018 was a cornucopia of good gaming and the competitive scene was unrelenting with amazing stories and matches. These were our favorite competitive games of the year. What were yours? And what are you looking forward to the most in 2019? Let us know! And may the best players in win in 2019!