Mobile esports in 2020 is on track to be bigger and better than ever before. Already across the world, millions use their smartphone and tablets to play titles like PUBG Mobile, Hearthstone, and Call of Duty. And while it isn’t nearly as popular in English speaking markets as it is in Asia, there is no doubt that it’s growing at a phenomenal rate, and why not?
As mobile devices get more powerful, the games not only look great but have many of the same functions and game modes as their big brothers on PC and console. And did we mention most of the mobile games are free? Sure you can sink some money into skins or loot crates, but no in-game purchases affect the competitive integrity of the games.
What’s more, mobile esports tournaments are huge. PUBG Mobile recently held the PUBG Mobile Club Open, a $475,000 tournament with its Grand Finals taking place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This tournament was a genuinely global affair – an Indonesian team won it and the top 10 included teams from Argentina, Russia, India, Thailand, and the United States.
So if you want to get involved, here are the biggest and best mobile esports of 2020!
All the games below are available on iOS and Android.
The undisputed king of mobile esports is still PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile. The mobile version of this game is arguably even better than it’s PC counterpart.
It looks and plays amazingly, with constant updates featuring new maps, guns, and mobile-specific game modes like sniper training and deathmatch. There are also plenty of skins and outfits to unlock either by straight-up buying them or to be unlocked through the season battle passes.
The integrated clan system makes it easy to find, chat, and build a squad of like-minded players and the inbuilt tournament system keeps you connected to the esports ecosystem. The PUBG Mobile Open Finals had 529 million viewers – 57 million if you subtract the Chinese audience – an 18 fold increase from the year before. With $1.5B in revenue and even bigger plans for next year, PUBG Mobile esports is going to be around for a while yet.
There is also the exclusive PUBG Mobile game mode called EvoGround. Born out of the zombies game mode, EvoGround provides a very different PUBG experience than the one you’ll find on other platforms. You’ll have to survive against a horde of zombies desperate to get to you and your teammates. Scavenge for weapons during the day, and find shelter at night because once the darkness descends the zombies have only one thing on their mind: you.
Blizzard’s Hearthstone may not have the same numbers of players it had in its heyday, but when it comes to tabletop card games it takes some beating. The mobile version is a carbon copy of its PC counterpart. You can log into your Hearthstone account on mobile and all your decks will still be right there, meaning you can progress, play, and compete no matter where you are.
The slower-paced nature of the game lends itself to mobile and Blizzard have done a great job taking all the world-class assets from the PC version, like the sound effects and voice-overs for characters, and bringing them to mobile.
The esport scene is still strong. It made the headlines recently when female gamer Xiaomeng “VKLiooon” Li won the Hearthstone Global Games at Blizzcon 2019, taking home $200,000 and becoming a role model for millions of women around the world who dream of a career in esports.
Call of Duty Mobile
Call of Duty has only been out since October, but with 148 million downloads already this game has already amassed a huge following.
Another mobile game from Tencent, the developers behind PUBG Mobile, among many others. The game aims to recreate the experience of Call of Duty at its peak – 5v5 CQB with great gunplay and well-designed maps.
And to give Tencent their credit they’ve largely done that. If you are a fan of Call of Duty you’ll feel instantly at home playing the mobile version. You can run, slide, gun down enemies, build up killstreaks, and launch drone strikes with all the frenetic energy you would expect from any game in this series.
Classic game modes such as Team Deathmatch, Search and Destroy, and Zombies are all here plus a few extras like Battle Royale. Clan support and a ranked mode allow you to grind on your own or with a squad and as you gain credits and XP that you can trade this in for new perks, operators, guns, and attachments. And if you don’t have time you can fast-track the process by buying COD points.
It is, of course, a first-person shooter and controls work similar to PUGB. Two virtual sticks will get you moving with buttons to shoot, crouch, sprint etc. dotted around the screen. If you are coming from PC or consoles you may find things a little unwieldy, but you will be surprised how quickly you begin gunning down enemies with just a screen for a controller.
On the esport side of things, there isn’t too much – yet. However, this isn’t Tencent’s first rodeo, they have shown with PUBG Mobile they have the ambition and capabilities to nurture and grow a competitive scene. And rumour has that with the success of Call of Duty: Mobile in the US and Europe – and these regions being the traditional home of the franchise – Tencent’s efforts will be focused there.
The first official tournament is set for late December: The COD Mobile Creator Challenge, run by World Showdown of Esports (WSOE) will take place in Las Vegas and feature a $30,000 prize pool.
Expect even from COD: Mobile esports in 2020.
Supercell’s stable of games – Clash of Clans, Boom Beach, and the latest Brawl Stars – have long been a favourite of many mobile gamers. But it is Clash Royale that seems to have the longevity and support needed for an esport.
Its popularity comes down to its simplicity and the melding together of three of the biggest genres in the world, combining elements from collectible card games (CCGs), tower defence, and multiplayer online battle arenas (MOBAs).
The game sees you collecting and upgrading cards and battling players either in 1v1 or 2v2. It’s simple on the surface but has layers of strategy that will have you coming back time and time again.
It also has a well-supported esport scene with the annual Clash Royale League. The most recent one just wrapped up in which Team Liquid won, taking home the lion share of a $150,000 prize pool.
Competing at the highest level is open to everyone, win 20 games in the CRL Challenge and you could earn a spot on a pro team for the showpiece LAN event.
The Best Mobile Esports 2020 – League of Legends: Wild Rift (Coming soon)
When it comes to full-fledged MOBAs on mobile there are a multitude to pick from. Tencent’s Arena of Valor, Mobile: Legends Bang Bang, Vainglory and Paladins Strike. However, none of these (despite suspicious similarities and a number of legal disputes) are from Riot Game, current MOBA king, and the developers of League of Legends.
But that’s all about to change with the release of League: Wild Rift, a brand new MOBA spun off from the League of Legends franchise. The development of this title has a rather bizarre history. Tencent originally reached out to Riot to develop a mobile MOBA based off League of Legends, Riot said it wasn’t possible. Tencent made one anyway and released it internationally as Arena of Valor. Mobile: Legends Bang Bang was next into the market – and this drew the ire of Riot Games and legal proceedings began.
But all that doesn’t really matter now. What is important is that Riot was wrong about the ability to create a MOBA on mobile. These copycat titles proved that mobiles could provide a great MOBA experience and hundreds of millions of gamers were hungry for such a game.
The only thing is the game isn’t out yet. It’s slated for release in late 2020 and will likely be one of the best mobile esports in 2020 – you can rest assured it will be massive.
And as an esport? Well, it’s safe to say Riot Games know a thing or two about that.
Want to get your hands on League of Legends: Wild Rift as soon as possible? You can apply for early access right here.