This is your chance to see beyond what happens on the screen in front of you.
A lot of us only get to see one side of esports, mostly through tournament broadcasts or VODs. In the industry’s early days, rarely did we ever get a glimpse of what happens on the other side of the monitor; where esports athletes go through rigorous training and face grueling competition in pursuit of glory. But as the esports industry continued to grow however over the past few years, we have been given more opportunities to get a closer look into the world of competitive gaming.
So, we gathered some of the best esports documentaries here to help you better understand esports inside and out. Take a look:
1 – Free to Play (Dota 2)
Dota 2 kickstarted the trend of esports tournaments giving away millions of dollars in prize money when the game premiered with a million-dollar tournament, The International, back in 2011. But before that, many aspiring esports athletes struggled to make a living out of competitive gaming. Produced by Dota 2 developer Valve Corporation, Free to Play documents the challenges and sacrifices required of three players competing in The International — and the tournament that became the tipping point for esports.
You can watch the film here.
2 – True Sight: The International 2018 Grand Finals (Dota 2)
Following the success of Free to Play, Valve produced a series of documentaries about various Dota 2 competitions called ‘True Sight.’ The latest entry in the series followed what happened behind the scenes during the Grand Finals of The International 2018, which saw a titanic clash between European underdogs OG and Chinese juggernauts PSG.LGD in one of the most electrifying matches in all of esports.
You can watch the full documentary here.
3 – Live/Play Miniseries (LoL)
Esports and competitive gaming is not all about the pros or the million-dollar tournaments they compete in. This League of Legends miniseries follows players from all walks of life and how one game has changed so much for them.
You can watch the miniseries here.
4 – Team Liquid – Breaking Point (LoL)
This infamous documentary follows Team Liquid’s 2016 League of Legends team through the ups and downs of competitive gaming. Raw, unscripted, and uncensored, this film sheds light on how the stress from conflicts and competition affects an esports team. There’s no happy ending in this one, but you just can’t help but watch everything fall apart.
You can watch the full documentary here.
5 – The Foreigner (SC2)
South Koreans have always been the kings of StarCraft, all the way back from StarCraft: Brood War in the early 2000’s up to now with StarCraft II. That was the case for a StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty tournament in Columbus, Ohio back in 2011. Four South Korean stars —SlayersMMA, Moon, Losira, and OGS MC — were all favored to win the tournament over all others.
But one American player, IDRA, launched a one-man assault to stop the South Koreans juggernauts from taking the title on North American soil. There has never been a national rivalry like it in StarCraft since.
6 – FGC: Rise of the Fighting Game Community (FGC)
The Fighting Game Community (FGC) is an often overlooked section of esports, even if it has been around far longer than anyone else. This documentary is by far the cleanest, most well-produced one on it (of which there are few) yet.
For those looking to get into fighting games, this film is a must-watch, as only a few can tell of the rich history of the FGC as good as this did.
7 – The Smash Brothers (Smash Bros.)
Depending on who you ask, Smash Bros. can either be the most nonsensical, or the most precise and technically-intensive, fighting game series of all time. This film will make you lean more towards the latter.
This nine-episode series explores the competitive Smash Bros. community inside and out. Moreover, it shows just why they are one of the most dedicated and passionate communities in all of esports.
8 – The King of Chinatown (Street Fighter)
If you were to ask me to give you one reason why esports is at the same level as traditional sports, then one of my answers will be this: esports has as much celebrity power and drama as any traditional sport, and then some.
This film was one of the first documentaries to cover that side of esports. It followed Street Fighter legend Justin Wong as he rode the highs and lows, as well as navigated all the drama, of esports’ multi-billion dollar industry.
The King of Chinatown is available to watch for free on Hulu and Amazon Prime Instant.
9 – The Supergamers (Dota 2)
While the previous documentaries on this list are catered towards people who are already into esports and gaming, these last two will be for those looking for an outside perspective.
This documentary by the BBC followed three aspiring British esports athletes in different stages of their careers. Not only did it focus on the players during competitions, but also while they were training and trying to live an ordinary life.
10 – The Celebrity Millionaires of Competitive Gaming (LoL)
This documentary by Vice sheds some light on the seedy underbelly of esports, especially in South Korea.
The nature of the million-dollar industry in the country has encouraged excess and an unhealthy desire to become the best and the most famous in its players. It’s a riveting glimpse into a high-stakes, whirlwind of a lifestyle that no one could have expected from people just trying to make a living off of playing computer games.