No longer is eSports the niche collection of hardcore gamers it once was. Now, it fills stadiums, and gaming is a viable, rewarding, and grueling competitive sport. 2016 had its fair share of thrills and spills, plus a few new titles joining the fray (looking at you, Overwatch), but who came out ahead? Here are our top eSports players of the year.
Best Female eSports Player 2016
Top eSports players like Sarah Lou, Kasumi Chan, and Mystik are blazing a trail for professional female gamers with a variety of combos, multi-kills, and advanced tactical maneuvers, which are every bit as good as their male opponents. It's tough to pick our best, but it has to be Scarlett. You might think we chose her because she had the highest earnings out of any female eSports player this year. It's actually because she did so using the Zerg. All hail the Zerg.
Highest Earning eSports Player 2016
If anyone ever tells you that you'll never earn money playing games, simply point them in the direction of UNiVeRsE, aka Saahil Arora, who has earned a 'paltry' $2.7 million over the course of his gaming career so far. This year, though, the title of highest earner goes to the Chinese number one iceice, aka Li Pen, who was just shy of $2 million from 16 tournaments. His Dota 2 team, Wings Gaming, aren't far behind him either.
Most Impressive eSports Victory
Again, it's tough deciding on just one, as there are so many awesome moments to choose from. It could easily be when Wings Gaming's Faith_Bian singlehandedly took down three MVP Phoenix players in Dota 2, or NuckleDu's herculean 32-match victory streak in the Capcom Cup. For us, though, it has to be the laser precision of S1mple's no-scoped double kill streak in CS: GO, one of which was in mid-air. The jury's still out on whether he's transcended human reaction speeds. The map now has a graffiti tag in memory of the move.
Best eSports Team in 2016
As the stress of having to make these choices reaches critical mass, we move on to our final pick. Perhaps the obvious choice would be Wings Gaming. They've absolutely dominated the Dota 2 competitions, and are the highest earning team of the year as well. That said, it's hard to ignore the sudden success of teams like Digital Chaos. The Evil Geniuses are still a force to be reckoned with, too. Then there's the best female gaming team in the world, Bad Monkey Gaming. In order to stop impending, severe internal head trauma befalling this writer, we're going to go with the stats, which means it's Wings Gaming this year.
If you're considering trying eSports for yourself, keep in mind that both the ROG Strix GL702 and ROG PG248Q were the official laptop and monitor for The International in 2016, making them a great place to start hardware-wise.
At CES 2017, the latest ROG Strix GL702 and 502 were on display!
By Simon Marshall