The Esports Game Of The Year is one of the most prestigious and hard-fought awards that we offer. Without games to play, there would be no esports industry, and more importantly, without games that are fun to watch and have high skill ceilings, there would be no one who wants to watch competitive gaming. Building such a game takes years, thousands of hours of work by massive teams and millions of dollars, and then you have to beat out multiple other titles to take home the award.
Now, we don’t want to call it a curse, but there is a strange trend when it comes to the winners of the Esports Game Of The Year award. No game has ever won it three times, but three games have won it twice back to back. CS:GO was the first back in 2016 and 2017, then League of Legends did the same in 2019 and 2020 before it was Valorant’s turn to win in 2021 and 2022. All three games are finalists for the award again this year, but Valorant is the only one that can win it three times in a row and given the dominance it has had over the past two years you would not want to bet against it this year.
Since its win in 2022 Valorant has gone from strength to strength, more content has been added to the game with more agents and maps keeping things fresh, the franchised VCT leagues have kicked off which has created a more stable pro scene, and the top level events have been great for the most part, taking the game on a truly global roadshow.
After winning the award last year, Leo Faria, Global Head of Valorant Esports, said that 2023 would be “a really special year, it’s almost like our sport is going out of beta.” With the introduction of the VCT leagues and the more stable competitive scene, his words have certainly rang true, and now the competitive Valorant scene looks like it has been set up to continue for years to come.
But there is some stiff competition when it comes to the Esports Game of the Year award, with one top contender coming from the same company as Valorant. League of Legends has been one of the biggest esports in the world for more than a decade and provides some of the best entertainment in the scene, as evidenced by it winning the award twice.
Every year LoL is going to be a top contender, but the last 12 months have had a few more issues at the top level of esports than normal. The North American LCS competition has seen two iconic teams in CLG and TSM leave the league and there have been multiple reports of some major changes coming soon. However, it still seems like one of the top contenders to dethrone Valorant this year, and it’s something the dev teams have always been aware of.
“With League [of Legends] being the beast that it is, it’s really tough sometimes to innovate against it and do something different,” said Whalen Rozelle, COO of Esports at Riot Games, when collecting the Esports Game of the Year award for Valorant in 2021. “Kudos to the entire [Valorant] team, being willing to take risks and potentially do stuff out of our comfort zone at Riot and sort of innovate against ourselves.”
Outside of Riot Games, CS:GO will be looking to secure the perfect send-off by winning the award for a third time at its last possible opportunity. CS:GO will be replaced by Counter-Strike 2, perhaps as soon as next week, meaning if it doesn’t win this year it will never become a three-time winner. The CS:GO year has been strong, but the announcement of CS2 has somewhat taken the focus away from pro play in recent weeks.
Then there is a whole host of games looking to win the award for the first time. From stalwarts that have been nominated almost every year such as Dota 2 and Rocket League, through mobile titles such as PUBG Mobile and Mobile Legends Bang Bang, which will both be looking to take home this and the Esports Mobile Game of the Year award. The behemoth that is Fortnite also makes the list of finalists as does Call of Duty Modern Warfare II, the one from last year not the one from 2009 (although if anyone wants to run a tournament for the 2009 version we are so in!)
As far as strength of field goes this is one of the most competitive years we have ever seen for the Esports Game of the Year award. Every finalist has a great chance to win, especially with the power of community voting which can really impact which game walks away with the trophy on November 30th.
If you want to be there when the winner is announced, make sure to get your tickets for the Esports Awards right now.