Love online games? Check out this article to know what are the most popular esports in Korea!
There’s no denying that the esports industry has taken the whole world by storm already.
In the past few years, South Korea has also seen a decent rise in the number of successful gamers.
Moreover, many modern cities like Seoul have gaming parlors where you can enjoy different esports games.
Related: Korean Internet Cafes Or PC Bangs
But, which game rules the heart of South Korean gamers explicitly? DOTA 2 is perhaps the most prominent esports game globally, but that’s not the case here.
Games like League of Legends and FIFA have always remained fan favorites in South Korea.
However, other games like Overwatch and Arena of Valor aren’t far away from topping the charts.
|Most Popular Esports in Korea||Genre||Top Korean Gamers|
|League of Legends||Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, Action RPG||Faker (Lee, Sang Hyeok)|
Duke (Lee, Ho Seong)
Wolf (Lee, Jae Wan)
|PUBG||First Person Shooter||Loki (Park, Jung-young)|
Esth3r (Go, Jeong-wan)
Taemin (Lee, Tae-min)
|FIFA||Football Simulator||tosnide (Lee, Sang Tae)|
Ding (Jeong, Jae Young)
SHINSTEALER (Shin, Bo Seok)
|Overwatch||First Person Shooter||Gesture (Hong, Jae-hee)|
Profit (Park, Joon-yeong)
birdring (Kim, Ji-hyeok)
|Arena of Valor||Multiplayer Online Battle Arena||JJak (Shin, Chang Hoon)|
Sun (Kim, Sun Woo)
Rush (Lee, Ho Yeon)
|Dota 2||First Person Shooter||March (Park, Tae Won)|
DuBu (Kim, Du Young)
MP (Pyo, Noah)
|WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos||RPG, Real-Time Strategy||Moon (Jang, Jae Ho)|
Lyn (Park, Joon)
ReMinD (Kim, Sung Sik)
|StarCraft II||Real-Time Strategy||Dark (Park, Ryeongwoo)|
Trap (Cho, Sung Ho)
Classic (Kim, Dowoo)
Through this article, I will cover a few of these esports games that have been gaining decent popularity recently.
Now, without wasting any further time, let’s get started:
Popular Esports In Korea 2021
League of Legends
League of Legends or LoL is a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game that has dominated Korea’s gaming industry since 2009.
While the gameplay is pretty similar to DOTA 2, LoL is quite ahead in popularity due to its early release in the country.
The ultimate aim of the League of Legends game is to form two teams of five players each and destroy each other’s Nexus.
All gaming characters have their own unique skills and strength to defeat the opponent in battle.
Surprisingly, LoL has a play rate of more than 50% in South Korea only.
Hence, if you ever decide to visit Korea’s PC Bangs (gaming parlors), you’ll see more than half of the users will be playing LoL.
As of now, SK Telecom T1 is Korea’s most successful team in this game, with more than $5 million as cash prizes in esports tournaments.
PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds)
Developed by PUBG Corporation, this online multiplayer battle royale game is another fan-favorite among Korean gamers.
As the game itself is a Korean product, there’s no surprise that PUBG is pretty successful in the Korean market.
The concept of this game includes 100 players jumping from their parachutes onto an island and surviving as long as possible.
The original concept behind this game was inspired by the Japanese movie “Battle Royale” and Korean Fortnite.
Due to the recent success, the developers have added a new map set initially in Korea (Taego).
Moreover, regular championships and leagues like PUBG Korea League are continuously held in the country.
Apart from PC, gamers can enjoy this game on their mobile phones as PUBG Mobile is one the most popular alternatives.
Currently, Loki (Park, Jung-young) and Taemin (Lee, Tae-min) are Korea’s most successful pro-PUBG players.
When it comes to esports games, EA’s FIFA is perhaps the biggest and most popular name in the community.
Unsurprisingly, Korea loves football, and Korean gamers have consistently shown positive affection towards EA’s FIFA series.
In 2017, EA also announced their collaboration with Nexon to deliver FIFA Online 4. Later in 2018, the game was released by EA & Nexon and became a huge success pretty quickly.
The game offers a pretty realistic experience of playing real-life football matches on your television/monitor screens.
Moreover, it can bring all passionate football fans one step closer to their respective footballers in real-life.
Before FIFA Online 4, its predecessor, FIFA Online 3, was also a hit and became Korea’s number one esports game in revenue and traffic.
With more than $1 million in winnings, Kang Sung Hoon and Lee Sang Tae are some of Korea’s most successful FIFA players
FIrst-person shooter games are pretty popular in South Korea, and hence games like PUBG and Overwatch are a huge deal.
Despite PUBG’s impressive reputation, Overwatch has made a name for itself among Korean gamers.
Developed back in 2016 by Blizzard, Overwatch is often described as a “hero shooter game.”
In terms of gameplay, two teams of six players each can participate, and the player can choose their favorite character from 30 different choices.
During its release in 2016, Overwatch managed to generate a revenue of more than $1 billion. Despite such global success, Overwatch is still a breeding ground for Korean gamers.
But, it doesn’t mean that Korean gamers haven’t realized Overwatch’s full potential.
Instead, pro gamers like Gesture (Jae-Hee Hong Tank) and Profit (Park Joon-Yeong) have collectively won more than $2 million through tournaments like Overwatch League and London Spitfire.
Arena of Valor
China’s top esports game, Arena of Valor, is definitely catching the eye of many Korean gamers as well.
Developed by Garena, this 3D MOBA-style game offers exciting 5v5 battles and tests gamers’ skills or strengths.
Gamers can enjoy this esports game in multiple modes, but Grand Battle, Valley Skirmish, and Abyssal Clash are perhaps the most preferred ones.
Generally, a match in Arena of Valor can last upto 15 to 20 minutes.
The overall gameplay of Arena of Valor is pretty similar to League of Legends and Dota 2.
Tencent has organized regular tournaments in the past few years and brought the inaugural Arena of Valor World Cup in South Korea.
While it’s true that the game is a much bigger success in China, Korean gamers aren’t that far behind either.
Currently, JJak (Shin, Chang Hoon) is known as the best Arena of Valor player in South Korea, with a total earning of more than $120,000 from esports tournaments.
On the other hand, other players like Sun (Kim, Sun Woo) and Rush (Lee, Ho Yeon) also offer healthy competition.
One of the most popular esports games, Dota 2, is yet to reach the top among South Korean gamers.
However, Nexon’s recent investments in getting more gamers involved in Dota 2 have worked quite rightly.
Developed by Valve Corporation, Dota 2 is a MOBA-style game and offers a pretty similar experience to League of Legends.
Valve released the game into the South Korean market in 2013, and since then, the game has seen some decent progress.
However, as League of Legends was released early in 2009, Dota 2 has always remained in LoL’s shadow.
But, Nexon’s efforts and upcoming Dota 3 can change the picture soon for the Dota franchise.
However, becoming a solid rival to League of Legends, especially in South Korea, wouldn’t be easy.
As of now, Yong Min Kim (Febby) and Du Young Kim (ID DuBu) are the country’s finest Dota 2 players with collective earnings of more than $1 million.
Moreover, the famous League of Legends Team, SK Telecom T1, announced their participation in upcoming Dota 2 tournaments.
WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos
Another popular esports game from Blizzard is Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos.
A real-time strategy game, WarCraft III is one of the most successful esports games in the Fantasy genre.
Generally, the game revolves around four classes or races: Humans, Orcs, Elves, and Undead.
All players have to collect different resources as per their needs, train their troops and defeat the opponents.
However, recently, the Warcraft III world has seen a low amount of gamers in South Korea.
While the game is still dominating the Chinese gaming market, it’s currently struggling in Korea with almost no major upcoming tournaments.
Hence, the game hasn’t seen any improvement in 2021 either, and its future in the Korean gaming community isn’t clear either.
But as of 2020, many pro-gamers like Jang Jae Ho and Park Joon have managed to earn more than $500,000 individually.
As popular as its predecessor, Starcraft: Broad War, Starcraft II is another Blizzard product widely known among Korean gamers.
During the early 90s, Starcraft: Broad War dominated the Korean gaming market and became one of the best games.
As a result, the expectations from Starcraft II were already high, and luckily the developers didn’t disappoint their audience.
A Sci-Fi/Real-Time strategy-based game, Starcraft II includes three races known as Terrans, Zerg, and Protoss.
The ultimate purpose of this game is similar to WarCraft III, as players have to collect resources and train their troops for online battles.
In 2017, Blizzard decided to make StarCraft II a free-to-play game to gain more audience.
But sadly, the game couldn’t reach the levels of League of Legends or other competitive games.
However, the game still has a loyal fanbase, and leagues like Korean Global Starcraft II League are organized regularly.
Currently, Sung Choo Cho is South Korea’s best player in Starcraft II, with more than $900,000 in earnings.
Summarizing esports games in Korea
Despite the sheer dominance of European and American countries, South Korea has slowly built a reputation in the esports world.
Unlike many other countries, the environment and social behavior are pretty friendly towards pro-gamers.
Game titles like League of Legends and Overwatch are known for dominating the local gaming market in Korea.
However, games like Starcraft II and Dota 2 are still performing well in this country.
Gamers like ‘Faker’ and ‘Bang’ have continuously dominated the world championships while earning more than $1 million, respectively.
Lastly, the credit goes to the South Korean government as they’ve always supported their pro-gamers through academies.
It comes as no surprise that many esports tournaments are directly telecasted on TV channels in South Korea.