“Fnatic was able to neutralize EG’s carry in their team fight, but at the cost of a buyback and loss of middle lane control.”
If that didn’t make one lick of sense to you, don’t worry. Though the most popular games are relatively young, they’ve already developed their own deep library of esports terminology and gamer lingo that’s needed to communicate important concepts. But unraveling that terminology is far from impossible.
In fact, we make it easy to do with our detailed esports glossary – we’ve sorted through the top esports, defined the common gaming terms, and laid them out nicely here for your benefit.
So why learn all of this? Well, if you’re planning on betting on esports, you’re going to want to be able to read match recaps and analysis at the very least. The following list covers the most commonly used words and phrases that are unique to esports.
While this is a great way to get you started, it’s also a good idea to actually play the games you’re interested in so that you can connect these abstract descriptions to actual in-game actions.
Common Esports Terms
Ace – In a team 5v5 FPS (first-person shooter) game, an “ace” is when one player kills all of the opposing players at least once in a round.
ADR – Short for “average damage per round.” ADR is a metric used to judge individual esports performance and is often seen as more useful than kill/death ratios.
Aggro – In games with computer-controlled NPCs (non-player characters), aggro refers to their level of aggressiveness in attacking player characters. A player who says “I have aggro” usually means that one of these NPCs is focusing attacks on them.
Anchor – An “anchor” can either be a tank defensive player who has a primary role of protecting a certain space, or it can refer to a bad player that is bringing down a team. The use is highly context-sensitive.
AoE – Short for “Area of Effect.” The physical range across which an attack or spell has an effect.
Ban – In some games that allow teams to select hero characters, there is a “pick and ban” phase before each match in which each team gets to ban a limited number of heroes from play.
Base – In most MOBAs (multiplayer online battle arenas), the base is the starting point for each team. Destroying it or taking it over is the ultimate objective for the other team.
Beta – A game or update that is in “beta” is still being play-tested and tweaked before final release. This might be an “open” beta in which anyone can participate or a “closed” beta which is tested by a select number of invited players.
BNB – Short for “bread and butter,” this term is most commonly used in fighting games to refer to a very basic but effective combo that many players use.
Bots – AI-controlled opponents. These differ from creeps (see the definition below) and regular enemies in that they are meant to approximate the role of a human player.
BR – Another term that is context-sensitive, BR can be an abbreviation for either the “battle royale” genre or for Brazil. If it’s the former, the genre is roughly based on the film/novel of the same name and sees a lot of players competing to be the last standing in an ever-shrinking map. Fortnite is the most popular example of a battle royale game.
Buyback – A gameplay element found in some MOBAs, buyback means that dead players can speed up their respawn by paying a significant amount of gold.
Camping – The practice of sitting on an advantageous spot and milking it, usually for items or kills. For example, a “spawn camper” is someone who hovers around a fixed respawn point and tries to quickly kill players as they get back into the game.
Carry – “Carry” is a term usually applied to the team member in a 5v5 MOBA that has the lead role in attacking and killing the enemy team (thus “carrying” their own team to victory). This is often the team’s most skilled player, as the team will funnel a disproportionate amount of resources to them.
Caster/Casting – A caster can be a hero character that focuses primarily on magic spells in a MOBA, but it is also a more general term used for the commentators on match broadcasts.
CCG – Short for “collectible card game.” Games in which players battle with decks of cards that they have purchased or earned over time through gameplay. Some prominent examples are Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering.
Circle – In a battle royale game, the circle is the currently active area of play. The areas outside of it are usually covered in a force field that does gradual and inescapable damage to anyone in it.
Combo – Any attack sequence in which one attack leads into another with no chance for the foe to escape, block, or counter it. The term is most frequently used in fighting games but is seen in other places on occasion.
Creep – In MOBA games, creeps are the computer-controlled monster characters that are primarily killed for their experience points and gold.
Denying – In some MOBAs, this is the strategic practice of keeping members of the other team from getting to needed resources by various means.
Diving – In MOBAs, a dive is an early attack on enemy territory, usually to take out a tower. The diver expects to take a large amount of damage in the process, usually doing it at a point where such a forward assault is not yet seen as prudent.
DLC – Short for “downloadable content.” DLC is usually a paid add-on to a game, such as a new hero character or map. In high-level competitions, all of the optional DLC for a game is usually available to the competitors.
Dogs – A kill streak of 10+, mostly used in Call of Duty.
DPS – Short for “damage per second.” Usually used as a metric to evaluate hero characters in games that have them. Heroes that can deal higher DPS are more ideal for direct fighting.
Draft – In team games with selectable hero characters, the “draft phase” precedes the match. In this phase, teams take turns picking characters for themselves and banning characters from play.
EXP/XP – Short for “experience points.” Primarily used in MOBA games, these are collected by killing things and gradually make a hero character stronger by raising their statistics.
EZ – Short for “easy,” with the implication really being “too easy.” Used by bad winners to disrespect their opponent.
Farm – “Farming” is the process of gathering resources, most commonly done in MOBA and RTS (real-time strategy) games.
Fighter – Shorthand for the fighting game genre. Major representatives include Street Fighter and Smash Bros.
Forcebuy – A round in which a team cannot afford to buy all of the equipment they need going in. Most commonly used in CS:GO.
FPS – Short for “first-person shooter.” Main esports representatives of this game genre include CS:GO, Quake, and Call of Duty.
Fraggers – A player role in some FPS games that usually involves aggressively attacking the enemy and racking up kills (aka frags).
Gank – A “gank” is a PvP kill of an enemy hero, but usually with the connotation of ambushing and/or outnumbering them.
GG – Short for “good game,” players customarily conclude a match with this as a sign of good sportsmanship. In some games, it can also formally indicate that one side is giving up.
Griefer – Fundamentally the same as a troll, but specific to online games. Griefers play a game just to harass other players and try to ruin everyone’s good time.
Grind – Basically interchangeable with “farming,” this indicates the process of gathering resources like gold and experience points.
Group Stage – Usually the penultimate or ultimate round of major esports tournaments, often conducted in a single-elimination bracket format (after a preceding round robin stage).
Headshot – In an FPS game, shots to the head usually do massive damage and often have the capability of killing a fully healthy foe in one shot.
Heroes – Selectable player-characters in certain games.
HUD – Short for “heads up display.” The elements of the gameplay screen that usually sit around the main playfield and convey vital information like current player health and resource levels.
Jungle – In MOBAs, the “jungle” is the area between the three lanes. One player (the “jungler”) is often assigned as the specialist in roaming this area, gathering resources in it, and ambushing opposing players in the lanes from it.
K/D or KDR – Short for “kill-death ratio.” A metric used for expressing the individual level of play of a team member in a number of different types of esports.
Lag – Lag is a de-syncing of a player’s local action from the network they are connected to, usually due to internet traffic or a hardware issue. The player inputs are not transmitted to the game server fast enough, potentially leading to deaths that are seen as cheap or unfair.
Lane – In MOBAs, the lanes are the paths that run between the bases of the two teams. League of Legends set the template of having three lanes (top, mid, and bottom), which was carried on in Dota 2.
Last Hit – In most MOBA games, experience and gold earned from killing a creep or opposing team member are given entirely to the person who strikes the fatal blow (regardless of who dealt the most damage). This plays into overall team strategy of focusing resources on growing particular characters.
Mats – Short for “materials.” These are the items that players need to collect to build structures.
Meta – A reference to the “metagame” of an esport; the simplest way to explain this is the current strategies and techniques that are most effective at the highest levels of play.
MOBA – Short for “multiplayer online battle arena.” This genre developed from the RTS genre (particularly Warcraft 3) and fused in elements of the “tower defense” genre to create something new. League of Legends and Dota 2 are the pioneering popular titles in the MOBA genre.
Nerfing – A term used to refer to the weakening of a particular character, faction, weapon, or item in a game patch or update.
NPC – Short for “non-player character.” This is a broad term used to encompass all of the characters in a game that are controlled by the computer.
Pentakill – A “pentakill” is the MOBA equivalent of an ace – it’s when one player kills each of the opposing players at least once in a match.
Perfect – Mostly used in fighting games, refers to a round won without taking any damage.
Ping – “Ping” is a communication tool used on networks to quantify how much lag a player is currently experiencing.
Priority – When two opposing moves are made at the same time, “priority” is an invisible ranking factor in the game that determines which one will be successful.
Racer – Shorthand for the “racing game” genre. Vehicle racing games that are seen as esports include sim races conducted by iRacing and Project CARS.
Rax – Shorthand for the barracks commonly found in RTS and MOBA games.
REKT – An abbreviation of “wrecked” used in the wake of a devastating play.
RNG – Short for “random number generator.” The unseen programming code in games that generates random numbers for all sorts of variables – for example, the chance to land a critical hit.
RTS – Short for “real-time strategy,” this is the game genre that StarCraft and Warcraft belong to. Players make strategic resource management and attack/defense decisions in the heat of the action, rather than having chess-like turns to ponder their moves. The MOBA genre is an evolution of RTS.
RWS – Short for “round win share.” Like ADS and DKR, this is a metric used to value individual player performance in a team match in certain games. For example, in CS:GO, RWS is only granted to the winning team and is based on the individual player damage share of the team’s total damage.
Safe Move – Mostly used in fighting games, this refers to any move that does not leave the player vulnerable if the opponent blocks it.
Scrub – A bad player.
Shot-Calling – In a team-based game, the “shot-caller” is usually the team leader who issues instructions to the rest of the team over their headsets.
Skins – Digital appearance items (such as outfits and hats) that can be used to customize a player-character’s appearance. The prize pools for major tournaments are very often at least partially funded by special skin sales. Skins are also used as a circuitous means of real money wagering on esports.
Spawn – The spontaneous manifestation of a player, weapon, or item on the playfield of a game.
Split – A seasonal competition in a number of esports.
Strat – A commonly-used abbreviation for “strategy” in many esports.
Support – A type of role in team esports (particularly MOBAs), the support player focuses on things like healing and buffs. They often ride along with the carry to help them build their power and then bring the fight to the opposing team.
Tank – A player who focuses on absorbing punishment as a defensive strategy to draw attacks away from more vulnerable players.
Team Fight – The phases in a MOBA in which the two teams are engaged in multi-participant battles with each other. Usually occurs toward the later end of the match.
Tilt – A term borrowed from poker, a player “on tilt” is emotional and not playing to the best of their ability.
Towers – A defensive structure commonly found in MOBA games. Will automatically fire on enemies when they are in range.
Vanilla – The most basic version of a game, before any upgrades or DLC have been applied to it.
WP – Short for “well played.” Sometimes used as a compliment mid-match.
Zoning – When a player attempts to either stay in a particular area or to force an opponent into an area that is advantageous to them.