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Esports Glossary of Terms

2 June 2017
game controller | esports terms glossary | Neon

Esports can seem complicated and confusing to newcomers. With so much many different terms, it’s easy for brands interested in tapping into the sector’s huge potential to feel alienated by it. With that in mind, Neon has explored the finer points of the industry to deliver this helpful glossary of esports terms that’ll help you tell your MMOs from your MMORPGs.


Role-Playing Game (RPG)

A game in which the player is given the role of a character (or handful of characters) and must interact with the world they’re in to complete tasks and adventures. Computer-based RPGs emerged from tabletop games such as Dungeons and Dragons, which first took off in the 1980s. Fallout, Mass Effect, and Witcher are popular examples of computer-based Role-Playing Games.

Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMO)

An evolution of the RPG where the environment is held online (rather than a disk or cartridge) and is constantly growing with updates from the developer. MMORPGs are one of a number of RPG subgenres, alongside Tactical Role Playing Games (TRPGs) and Sandbox Role Playing Games (SRPGs). Examples of MMORPGs include World of Warcraft, RuneScape and EverQuest.

Real-time Strategy (RTS)

A chess analogue that allows the user to control and build units (often soldiers and armies) to defend their base and defeat their opponent. The real-time element adds pressure to the scenario by limiting the amount of time players have to make decisions. Starcraft, Warhammer and Command and Conquer are popular Real-Time Strategy games.

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA)

Also known as Action Real-Time Strategy (ARTS), MOBAs are similar to Real-Time Strategy games but have established a firmer footprint in esports thanks to the huge popularity of key MOBA game League of Legends. Other significant MOBAs are Defence of the Ancients (Dota) and Smite.

First Person Shooters (FPS)

A combat genre that requires the player to use an array of weapons to defeat enemies. One of the most popular genres in esports, First Person Shooters place the camera at the eyeline of the characters in the game, meaning the gamer is seeing the action through their eyes (hence the first person element). Popular games include Halo, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Call of Duty and Overwatch.

Online Collectible Card Game (OCCG)

Like traditional, offline card games, Online Collectible Card Games are all about gathering playing cards that feature characters or items with certain qualities and powers. These cards are then played against those of other players in a competitive environment. Hearthstone, Magic Online and Hex are among the most popular Online Collectible Card Games.

Fighting Game

As the title suggests, Fighting Games pit players against each other in violent combat. Boxing and karate games can be classed as fighting games, but the term generally refers to titles that don’t focus on real-life sports. Popular games include Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Virtua Fighter and the classic Street Fighter.


Dota 2

Standing for Defence of the Ancients, Dota 2 is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game that’s developed and published by Valve Corporation. Released in 2013 as a sequel to the first Dota game, the title is an esports staple that commands over 10 million active monthly players.

League of Legends

Abbreviated to LoL, League of Legends is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) game that’s developed and published by Riot Games. Released in 2009, the title has become one of the biggest in esports and attracts over 100 million active players every month.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

The fourth entry in the Counter-Strike series, CS:GO is a First Person Shooter (FPS) that is developed by Hidden Path Entertainment and Valve Corporation, and published by Valve Corporation. Released in 2012, it’s sold 25 million copies for PC alone and is a staple of esports tournaments.


An online collectable card game (OCCG) that incorporates elements of Warcraft, Hearthstone is developed and published by Blizzard Entertainment. The company has reported that there are over 70 million Hearthstone players as of May 2017.


Praised for its diverse cast of characters, Overwatch is a First Person Shooter (FPS) that’s quickly grown a huge following since its release in 2016. In January 2017, developer/publisher Blizzard reported that the game is played by over 25 million players.

Starcraft II

A sequel to 1998’s StarCraft, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty is a Real Time Strategy (RTS) game with a military science fiction theme. Developed and published by Blizzard, the game is split into three sections: the core Wings of Liberty game, and two expansion packs: Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void.


A core MOBA game, Smite is one of the most lucrative titles for esports professionals, offering a $1 million prize pool at its annual Smite World Championship. Developed and published by Hi-Rez Studios, the game had a staggered released across various platforms between 2014 and 2016.

Heroes of the Storm

Bringing together characters from a number of Blizzard’s popular franchises (including World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and StarCraft), Heroes of the Storm is a MOBA game, though Blizzard itself defines the title as an online “hero brawler”. An update to the game, titled Heroes of the Storm 2.0, was released in April 2017.

Street Fighter V

The latest release in the iconic Street Fighter series, Street Fighter V is a side-scrolling fighting game that features most of the classic characters and locations fans are familiar with. Developed by Capcom and Dimps and published by Capcom, the game has sold 1.6 million since release in 2016.

Rocket League

One of the most unique esports games around, Rocket League can best be described as football with toy cars. Developed and published by Psyonix, the game is a sequel to its similar Supersonic Rocket-Powered Battle-Cars and has become a staple of the esports arena.

Industry Roles

Professional Player

A professional player is someone who plays games in organised tournaments for prizes and money, either by themselves or as part of a team. Though anyone who plays games competitively is technically an eSporter, only those who play in an organised tournament can be deemed a professional player.


Someone who may or may not be a professional player but broadcasts live streams of their gameplay on streaming sites like Twitch. Streamers can gain a large following, which makes them significant influencers and of great interest to brands.

Streaming Site

Similar to Facebook Live and Twitter’s Periscope, streaming sites for gamers are often dedicated purely to gaming and allow users to stream themselves playing games. Significant gaming streaming sites include Twitch (which is owned by Amazon), Hitbox and Steam Broadcasting.

Analysts and Coaches

People in these roles generally work together to help players improve performance. An analyst will gather and interpret performance data and the coach will work more directly with the player to enhance performance.


Team managers take on a range of varied roles and are responsible for ensuring the team’s logistics run smoothly. For example, a manager may organise entry into a tournament, arrange player contracts, and enhance a team’s brand.


Like commentators in traditional sports, Shoutcasters give viewers updates on what’s happening during a match. Shoutcasters come in two forms: play-by-play casters (who provide the running commentary) and colour casters (who, like pundits, provide insight and supplementary comments).

Game Developer

Game Developers are those responsible for conceiving, mapping out and finally building the game.

Game Publisher

Similar to marketers, Games Publishers are responsible for selling the game.

Gameplay Terminology


Some games require players to gain a certain level of points or have achieved a certain amount of goals to progress to the next stage. To do this, gamers churn away at a certain repetitive task, and that action is labelled ‘grinding’.

Triple-A (AAA)

Similar to a film blockbuster, a game is deemed a Triple A game if it has a high profile and significant financial backing. On the opposite end of the scale, independent games that have big ambitions are sometimes referred to as Triple-Is.


Clans are teams. If you group together with friends or people you’ve met through the game in a team you’ve set up a clan.

Player vs. Player (PvP)

A scenario where two gamers play against each other. Player vs. Environment (PvE) refers to when gamers play against opponents controlled by the computer. For example, when you play against your mates on FIFA, you’re playing PvP. When you’re on your own playing against the computer, you’re playing PvE.

Cooperative Gameplay (Co-op)

A style of play that allows gamers to play alongside each other and work together against another human, or computer, opponent. The functionality is used across a range of games and is not restricted to a small section of genres.


Gameplay in which the aim is to kill as many opponents as possible before a time or kill limit is reached. Also referred to as DM, Player v All, or Free-For-All (FFA).

Cross-Platform Play

Functionality that allows gamers who are playing on different platforms to play against each other. A player on an Xbox can play against another on a Playstation 4 with Cross-Platform Play.

Free to Play (F2P)

A game that’s largely open to gamers without the need for payment or subscription. Free-to-play games are rarely entirely free and will require payment after a certain portion of the game has been completed. A Pay to Play (P2P) game is one that requires payment (often a subscription) to play, while a Buy to Play (B2P) game is one that requires an initial purchase but no subscription.


Distinguished from Free to Play by the fact that a Freemium game can be played almost or entirely in full without any payment. However, extra content to enhance the experience can be purchased via microtransactions.

This is just a fraction of the wide range of esports terms the sector has to offer. As the sport evolves, the number of terms will grow too, so brands looking to get involved need to ensure they’re pouring the necessary resource into it to understand and adapt to these changes.

Looking to explore the esports sector? Download our esports audience segmentation guide or get in touch with us on [email protected] to find out how we can help you.

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