Ten Potential Esports Games in 2018

By Corey Dieteman

May 24, 2018


2018 Esports

We are nearly halfway through 2018, but it is never too late to keep an eye out for potential esports games. There is a game that is released every year that seems to take over the esports community. Which esports games in 2018 will take over? Here is a list of ten games that have been or will be released in 2018 that I think will gain attention in esports.


Artifact is a digital collectible card game developed and published by Valve Corporation. It is set to be released in Late 2018 on Microsoft Windows, macOS, and Linux.

The concept of the game is based on Dota 2, a multiplayer online battle arena game that was made by Valve. The objective of Artifact is to build a deck of cards, obtained from buying card packs or by trade to defeat an opponent in a one-versus-one situation. The cards are grouped into four different color themes, red, green, blue and black. The colors each have their own unique effects on the board.

The game differs from other college card games by having three playing boards, or known as lanes, and guarded by a tower at the end. The person who destroys two out of the three towers is declared the winner.

Valve has already expressed interest in making Artifact an esports game. They will be hosting a tournament in early 2019 with a $1 million prize. Valve hopes to build off its success from previous games like Dota 2 and Counter Strike: Global Offensive.

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle is a 2D fighting game that is developed and published by Arc System Works. It is set to be released on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Windows in 2018. The game will feature characters from BlazBlue, Persona 4 Arena, Under Night In-Birth and RWBY.

The game style will remind players of Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite and Tekken Tag Tournament 2. Cross Tag Battle features two-versus-two battles with tag-ins. The game will consist of 40 total characters with 20 at release and 20 characters available as DLC.

This game should have a decent size following in esports as it was initially announced at the Evo 2017 championships. There hasn’t been a new highly-competitive fighting game in a few years, and this title might fill the void.

Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII

Call of Duty is one of the biggest first-person shooter franchises in the world and a staple in esports. Call of Duty is set to release its 15th main installment and fifth entry in the Black Ops story arc with Black Ops 4. The game is developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. It is scheduled to be released worldwide on October 12, 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Microsoft Windows.

The official trailer for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 was released on May 17, 2018. In the reveal it showed multiplayer, zombies and the new game mode blackout. Blackout will be Call of Duty’s version of the popular battle royale game genre.

The battle royale game mode in Call of Duty could be a great addition to their esports league. It’ll add a whole different level of teamwork into the game. I look forward to the future of the “blackout” game mode.

Darwin Project

Darwin Project is a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game developed and published by Scavengers Studio. It was released under Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview on March 9, 2018. The full release is targeted to be released on PC in the summer of 2018.

The game is designed to be like the Hunger Games films. There are ten players that are sent into an arena in the Northern Canadian Rockies before an impending Ice Age occurs. Players must gather resources to survive, and players are only equipped with an axe and a bow at the beginning of the round. The last person remaining is the winner.

But there is a catch. There is an 11th player, considered the show director. You must try to be on their good side, as they can close off zones, drop bombs, heal people and start gravity storms.

There are two options in my opinion that can help this game be successful in esports. The first option is to have a mode without the show director and build it like other battle royale modes. The second option is to make the audience the show director. I’m not sure on the possibility of having that, but including the audience into the action will help the game grow.


H1Z1 is a free-to-play battle royale game that was developed and published by Daybreak Game Company. The game spent three years in early access on Microsoft Windows before being officially released in February 2018. It is scheduled to be released on PlayStation 4 in May 2018 and a later date for Xbox One.

The objective of the game is to be the last man standing or last team standing. In H1Z1, the battle arena will consist of 150 players, and you can choose to play solo, in a duo, or in a five-man group. Players will parachute at a random spot above the map. Once they reach the ground, they must search for items to defend themselves. A toxic gas will begin compressing the map to make it smaller and helps move the game along.

H1Z1 announced in October 2017 the H1Z1 ProLeague would begin in 2018. The game has run invitational tournaments at 2017 TwitchCon and a televised tournament on The CW in April 2017.

Icons: Combat Arena

Icons: Combat Arena is a free-to-play multiplayer platform fighter game developed and published by Wavedash Games. The game is currently in a Closed Beta status and is scheduled to be released on Steam for Microsoft Windows in 2018.

The game will remind you of Super Smash Bros. when you see gameplay of it, but Wavedash Games has made some changes to the platform fighter base mechanics. By eliminating some of the obscure mechanics in previous platform fighter games, they hope to add more diversity to their competitive stage and character lists.

Shield Gusting is a unique mechanic in Icons. Performing a Shield Gust will cause players to spend a large portion of their shield to reflect incoming projectiles and push enemies away. It was added with the hope it would combat some of the systemic balance issues in platform fighters prior released.

The most significant positive for this game is that is free to play. It seems to be a trend in popular esports games that it is free to play but might have some microtransactions along the way. If Icons: Combat Arena can build a following, this game can find quick success in the platform fighting esport genre.

Magic: The Gathering Arena

Magic: The Gathering Arena is a free-to-play digital collectible card game. It is being developed by Magic Digital Studio and published by Wizards of the Coast. There has yet to be an official release date, but the game is currently in closed beta. It will be available on Microsoft Windows.

The game is mostly a digital adaption of the popular Magic: The Gathering card game. The video game allows players to gain cards through booster packs, awarded in-game through achievements or purchased by microtransactions.

It will follow the same rules as the physical card game. Players will battle each other with selected decks, trying to damage each other. The first person to damage their opponent’s avatar to zero is the winner.

The game is set to have two different game modes. The constructed deck play and draft play. Constructed deck play is creating a deck from the cards in your library and battling opponents. The draft play is you’ll receive several booster packs, and you’ll need to build a deck out of those cards. Players will not be able to keep the cards in draft play but will gain rewards.

Magic: The Gathering is already a highly-competitive popular card game, and it has only made sense to bring it to the digital market.

Quake Champions

Quake Champions is a first-person shooter game that is developed by id Software and published by Bethesda Softworks. The game is set to be officially released on Microsoft Windows in 2018 and is currently available on Steam as an early access game.

The concept of the game is derived from the mythos of the first Quake and combined with the multiplayer of Quake III Arena with a twist. The champions are warriors with unique attributes and abilities, allowing players to compete in their own style. The game modes included will be Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, One-versus-One Duel, and a new mode called Sacrifice.

The game is free-to-play but limits the champion characters you can use. The player will have the option to purchase newer champions.

Quake Champions has already released a 2018 esports schedule, where they will host four LAN tournaments and two online events. The most significant prize will be $200,000 at the Quakecon Open in August and Quake Invitational at Dreamhack in December.

Soulcalibur VI

Soulcalibur VI is the sixth installment of the Soulcalibur series and is a weapon-based fighting game developed by Project Soul and published by Bandai Namco Entertainment. It is scheduled to be released in 2018 on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The gameplay involves two weapon-wielding combatants battling against each other in an arena. Soulcalibur VI will introduce a new gaming mechanic called Reversal Edge, which lets players defend against an oncoming attack and quickly strike back. It will be the first time in the franchise history that the character models, visual effects, and stages have been rendered in Unreal Engine.

Soulcalibur VI could revitalize the esports fighting game genre. There hasn’t been a highly-competitive fighting game since Street Fighter V in 2016 and Tekken 7 in 2015.

Super Smash Bros. for Switch

Super Smash Bros. for Switch was announced in March by Nintendo at the Nintendo Direct, an online presentation of their upcoming games. The opening scene of the reveal trailer featured inklings from Splatoon running around and then they show the Super Smash Bros. logo on fire behind them.

Although the trailer doesn’t go into anymore detail, it does show that at least Mario and Link from Zelda will be in the game. Everyone else pictured was a blurry silhouette. The assumption though with the game is that they will be bringing in the inklings from Splatoon into the new game.

The game doesn’t have an official release date yet but the trailer did say that it will be released in 2018. Super Smash Bros. already has a huge following in esports with Melee and for the Wii U. It would only make sense for its success in esports to continue with Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo Switch.

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