Mobile esports is nothing short of a phenomenon and has quickly become one of the largest platforms on which competitive gaming is performed.
While unknown to many in the PC world, mobile esports games now not only appear in, but regularly top, lists of the most viewed esports tournaments.
Some mobile esports titles have risen to prominence on their own, such as Garena: Free Fire and Clash Royale. However, in an attempt to tap into the lucrative (and growing) mobile market, some developers have released mobile versions of popular PC esports titles.
We’ve listed all the major games that have mobile esports versions with their own independent esports ecosystems.
Call of Duty: Mobile
Call of Duty (COD) is one of the most popular video game series in the world. Its success has translated into the establishment of its own franchised esports league, the Call of Duty League (CDL), run by developer Activision Blizzard.
Call of Duty: Mobile, a mobile port of the game, is also a big esport title in the mobile scene. The Call of Duty Mobile World Championship 2021, also run by Activision Blizzard, had a $2m (~£1.73m) prize pool.
Alongside the high-prize pool World Championship, a few other smaller tournaments flesh out the scene. COD Mobile esports has proved most popular in countries and regions known for having large mobile esports scenes, including India, Brazil and Southeast Asia (SEA) more broadly. The Philippines Championship 2021 tournament alone garnered over 87,000 peak viewers, according to Esports Charts.
The COD Mobile scene has also attracted a number of major esports organisations, including Natus Vincere, Team Vitality, FunPlus Phoenix, Wolves Esports, Tribe Gaming and Blacklist International (competing under the name Blacklist Ultimate).
PUBG Mobile is perhaps the most popular mobile variant in esports today. Born from its eponymous PC counterpart, PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds), the title brings the PC games’ Battle Royale mechanics to phones. It has proved an incredibly popular esport in its own right, and the mobile version often outperforms its parent game in viewership.
The PUBG Mobile Pro League (PMPL) is the main competition in the PUBG Mobile competitive scene. It boasted a massive $6m (~£5.3m) overall prize pool in the 2021 season, down to $4m (~£3.6m) in 2022. The global league is split into five regions — SEA, South Asia, Middle East & Africa, Americas and Europe — with each having its own PMPL Championship.
The game is extremely popular in SEA and South Asia, particularly India, China and Malaysia. China’s Nova Esports won the 2021 Championship to bring home $1.53m (~£1.36m), though NAVI’s Russian squad did come second. However, PUBG Mobile was banned in India in 2020, leading to the release of the India-specific Battlegrounds Mobile India (BGMI) — which was also subsequently banned in the country.
PUBG Mobile recorded an all-time peak viewership of 3.8m — the third most-viewed esports tournament on record — at the PUBG Mobile Global Championship 2020, according to Esports Charts data.
League of Legends: Wild Rift
Wild Rift is Riot Games’ attempt to port League of Legends to mobile, bringing one of the world’s most popular competitive games to mobile phones and tablets.
Riot Games invested lots of money in building out a competitive scene for Wild Rift, both in traditional mobile strongholds in the East, as well as in Western countries — where mobile esports is much less popular. However, in November 2022, Riot Games announced it would halt Wild Rift esports operations in all regions apart from Asia, significantly scaling back the game’s esports presence in the West.
The Wild Rift Icons Global Championship is the culminating event of the Wild Rift season, and welcomes 24 teams from 8 regions. The 2022 Championship had a prize pool of $2m (~£1.8m). In fact, a total of $5.2m (~£4.6m) was distributed in Wild Rift tournament prize money last year alone, according to Esports Charts.
However, League of Legends: Wild Rift viewership has lagged behind its main competitors in the mobile MOBA market. The esports’ all-time highest viewership was during a Twitch Rivals event, garnering 130,000 viewers, per Esports Charts. The Icons Global Championship 2022 itself received only 54,000 peak viewers.
Rocket League Sideswipe
Unlike many of its counterparts, Rocket League Sideswipe takes a slightly different approach to its parent title. Rocket League’s mobile version reimagines the soccer game’s premise in a 2D environment.
Rocket League Sideswipe only came out in November 2021, so the game is still very young — and arguably not nearly as complex as its PC counterpart.
Nonetheless, there is a small esports scene emerging around the game, largely thanks to developer support. Rocket League creator Psyonix has sponsored esports events with tens of thousands of dollars on the line.
Those events are available in Europe via Rocket Baguette, in Oceania with the RLO Swipe Series, through Rival Esports in North America, South America via Rocket Street as well as Asia and the Middle East thanks to Grand Clash.
Fortnite, an immensely popular battle royale game on PC, does technically have a mobile version, which has hosted one esports tournament in the past. However, both the IOS App Store and Google Play store removed Fortnite from their mobile app stores following developer Epic Games’ decision to use its own payment system that circumvented Apple and Google’s 30% app store transaction fee.
Fortnite therefore in theory could house an esports ecosystem, but this is unlikely until Fortnite becomes available again on major mobile storefronts. Litigation is currently ongoing between Epic Games and Apple.
Additionally, Apex Legends, a popular battle royale game with a small esport scene, officially released a mobile variant in May 2021. However, there’s been little in the way of an esports scene for Apex Legends Mobile. The same is true for FIFA, which has its own mobile version in FIFA Mobile, though the title seems to have little to no esports presence nor ecosystem.
Meanwhile, mobile versions are being created for even more esports titles. Rainbow Six Mobile is currently in closed beta, and it’s been confirmed by Riot Games that VALORANT Mobile is in development.