The Game Awards 2022: Breaking down the esports categories

by Brian Bencomo

The Esports Awards aren’t the only ones honoring the best in esports this year. The Game Awards, which will take place on Dec. 8 in Los Angeles, also will recognize the best in esports for 2022. The Game Awards will name winners in five categories: Best Esports Game, Best Esports Athlete, Best Esports Team, Best Esports Coach and Best Esports Event. Disclosure: Nerd Street was among the media outlets that were asked to submit nominees and select winners, with Oct. 25 being the cutoff date for nominees. If you’re curious about who the nominees are and the qualifications for each of the nominees in these categories, here’s a breakdown.

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Best Esports Game

  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
  • Dota 2
  • League of Legends
  • Rocket League
  • VALORANT

It’s hard to pick one game that provided the best overall esports experience this year as all of these games provided great moments and competitive experiences for their players. CS:GO and League of Legends are two of the most popular esports, have all been around for over a decade and seem to top themselves each year with better and better events -- 2022 was no different.

Rocket League and VALORANT are newer games that stood out this year for world-class events and new tournament circuits. Both games also are noteworthy for using a double elimination format in their bigger tournaments. VALORANT has provided perhaps the best environment in any esport for women and marginalized genders to compete via VCT Game Changers.

Read more: G2’s Juliano, Petra, mimi add to storied careers with Game Changers Championship

Dota 2 usually stands out for its large prize pot at its season-ending event, The International. For the first time in its history, this year’s $18.9 million prize pool did not top the amount from the previous year ($40 million in 2021). It was still -- by far -- the biggest prize pot in esports this year.

Photo credit: Riot Games

Best Esports Athlete

  • Jeong "Chovy" Ji-hoon (Gen.G, LoL)
  • Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok (T1, LoL)
  • Finn "karrigan" Andersen (FaZe Clan, CS:GO)
  • Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev (Natus Vincere, CS:GO)
  • Jacob “Yay” Whiteaker (Cloud9, Valorant)

The players in this category are a mixture of some of the most iconic names in their respective games and some emerging players. Faker is the GOAT in League of Legends, and karrigan and s1mple are legends in CS:GO. Chovy and yay are both emerging stars who have established themselves as some of the most mechanically gifted players in their respective games.

Read more: Legends never die: Reflecting on Faker’s second Worlds final loss

In terms of what they’ve done this year, Chovy had the better year on an individual statistical level, but Faker reached two international finals as the leader of a young roster. S1mple and karrigan both won international events, but karrigan got the bigger prize in winning the Antwerp Major. Yay also was an international champion in VALORANT as the winner of Masters: Reykjavík. It’s possible the LoL and CS:GO players split votes among themselves and yay emerges as the victor here.

Photo credit: 100 Thieves

Best Esports Team

  • DarkZero Esports (Apex Legends)
  • FaZe Clan (CS:GO)
  • Gen.G (League of Legends)
  • LA Thieves (Call of Duty)
  • LOUD (Valorant)

World championships are the ultimate accomplishment for a team regardless of esport. In this case, Gen.G were not world champions this year, just regional champs, so the other four teams on this list are probably more deserving. In CS:GO there is no world championship, but Majors are the game’s equivalent of a world championship and FaZe won the Antwerp Major. FaZe also won IEM Katowice and IEM Cologne, which are two of the most prestigious annual non-Major events on the CS:GO calendar. LOUD won VALORANT’s championship and also were second at another international tournament, Masters: Reykajvík. The LA Thieves won a COD Major in addition to COD Champs. DarkZero won the ALGS Championship and the same roster (playing as Reignite) also won the only other Apex global LAN, the ALGS Split 2 Playoffs.

Photo credit: Riot Games

Best Esports Coach

  • Andrii "B1ad3" Horodenskyi (Natus Vincere, CS:GO)
  • Matheus 'bzkA' Tarasconi (LOUD, VALORANT)
  • Erik “d00mbr0s” Sandgren (FPX, VALORANT)
  • Robert "RobbaN" Dahlström (FaZe Clan, CS:GO)
  • Go "Score" Dong-bin (Gen.G, LoL)

These coaches all deserve recognition for different reasons. B1ad3 and d00mbr0s each led their teams to international titles despite the multitude of issues that the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused for their mixed Ukrainian/Russian rosters. BzkA is the only world champion on this list as he was the coach of VALORANT world championship team LOUD. RobbaN coached FaZe through their win at the Antwerp Major, the closest CS:GO equivalent to a world championship. Score is the coach of Gen.G, who were champions this summer in Korea’s LCK.

Photo credit: Alexander Dumon / ESPAT

Best Esports Event

  • Evo 2022
  • 2022 League of Legends World Championship
  • PGL Major Antwerp 2022
  • 2022 Mid-Season Invitational
  • VALORANT Champions 2022

The League of Legends World Championship is always one of the best and biggest events in all of esports. This year was no different, with the first full-scale in-person world championship since the start of the pandemic, and it reached a new peak viewership of over 5 million viewers, according to Esports Charts. League of Legends Worlds took place in Mexico City, New York, Atlanta and San Francisco and went off without a hitch with very high production quality. Disclosure: this was the only one of these five events I attended this year. I was in New York for the group stage and San Francisco for the final, so I’m biased in saying this was the best event, in particular the final. I was blown away by the atmosphere at the Chase Center from the pregame show to the thrilling five-game series.

Read more: DRX complete Cinderella run, beat T1 in Worlds 2022 final

The Mid-Season Invitational was great, but doesn’t compare in terms of the scale to Worlds. The Antwerp Major and Champions also deserve consideration. Antwerp was one of the most watched CS:GO Majors with over 2 million peak viewers and Champions was the most watched VALORANT tournament with a peak of 1.5 million -- plus it was the first Champions tournament with fans in the stands.

Evo, in particular, deserves a shoutout as the biggest annual fighting game community tournament. Like Worlds 2022, Evo 2022 was the first full-scale Evo since before the pandemic started, and it was an amazing event with some great storylines. The event featured thousands of participants across nine different games, several side tournaments and a showcase for the recently released MultiVersus. There was some discontent though with the fact Smash was not part of the games lineup.

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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