Esports and competitive gaming in general can be hard to get into due to the very specific abbreviations, terminology and jargon that naturally come with the hobby. Deciphering and separating the hundreds of varying sub-terms used across different video games and fan communities, both online and offline, can prove to be a surprisingly difficult task. This page is dedicated to keeping all of our readers, whether you’re a casual or hardcore esports fan, up-to-date and informed of the latest terms, and you can find our separate guides for game-specific terminology provided at the bottom of this page.
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Aimbot – Cheatware and/or hacking software that aims for the player. An unfortunate reality that still sometimes sneaks its way into many competitive esports matches to this day which is met with swift disqualification.
AoE – Area of Effect, a type of attack or spell in a game that damages or effects opposing players in its range.
Auto Attack – A type of offensive moveset that allows the player to automatically attack their opponent endlessly without manual input, usually at the cost of damage or effectiveness.
Aggro – An aggressive style of play, usually adopted to bait or pressure the opponent.
Build – The areas of play a character or hero focuses in, and how they can be improved by the player during successful ongoing competitive play.
Buff – A boost in power or effectiveness of a character or hero, usually in combat or survivability, sometimes temporarily granted in-play. It can also mean when a game developer updates their title and modifies a character’s damage output or abilities that positively affects future competitive play.
Carry – A key player or players(s) protected by the team to deal the damage or complete the objective needed to win the match.
Casting – Within the esports game itself, used to describe when a player is using an ability, attack or moveset that requires a certain amount of time to execute. Within the esports industry, it is an alternative term for the commentators of the esport match in question.
Comp – Competitive.
Cooldown – The amount of time it takes for an ability, attack, spell, etc to be usable once more.
DPS – Damage Per Second, a type of class in a game used to describe characters that can deal large amounts of damage very fast and effectively.
DQ – Disqualified.
Farm/Farming – The act of neutralising easy-to-kill A.I. enemies to earn virtual currency in the fastest possible manner to spend in-game for better abilities, items and powers. Also sometimes called grinding.
FPS – First-person shooter, a genre of video games that is very prominent in esports. Examples include Call of Duty, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Halo and Overwatch.
Frag – A successful kill of an enemy in the game.
Fog of War – A game mechanic used to limit the range of vision a player and their team have of the opposition’s side of the map, until they are in the vicinity or the vision is unobstructed by environmental objects.
GG – Good Game, a friendly term used to show sportsmanship, but also unfortunately often used as an insult.
Ganking – When a player takes advantages of an unprepared or unaware opponent, typically from behind.
Glass Cannon – A type of character or hero who is extremely effective but is also fragile.
Griefing – The act of purposely annoying or insulting players, universally frowned upon in esports.
KDA – Kills, Deaths and Assists, a term usually used to describe a player’s overall score in shooter-based esports
K/D – Kill/death ratio.
Lag – When a game’s Internet or network connection is bad to the point where the frame-rate drops or the action on each player’s screen is not properly synced, thus ruining fair competitive play.
Laning – A term specific to MOBA esports, used to describe when players farm or push a specific ‘lane’ on the map which consists of a narrow space that results in standoffs.
Meta – The metagame, the community-driven and recommended ‘optimal’ way to play the game, the ideal team composition, or order of play.
MOBA – Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, a genre of video games that is very prominent in esports. Examples include Dota 2, League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm and Smite.
Nerf – A reduction in the power or effectiveness of a character or hero in combat or survivability. Usually used when a game developer updates their title and modifies a character’s damage output or abilities that negatively affects future competitive play.
NPC – Non Playable Character, controlled by the artificial intelligence of the game.
OP – Overpowered. Usually used to describe a character or ability considered unbalanced and potentially requiring a nerf.
Push – When a player or team make a bee-line for a specific area on the map or attempt a specific tactic together to win the match.
QQ – An insult which means ‘go quit’, used in many esports due to the perceived appearance of a pair of crying eyes.
RTS – Real-time strategy, a genre of video games that is very prominent in esports. Examples include StarCraft II and Warcraft.
Salt – A derogatory term usually used to insult fellow fans, players or teams who express their dislike of the outcome of a particular esports match or event.
Shutout – When a player or team definitively prevents the opposition from scoring or winning the game.
Squishy – A character or hero in an esports game known for low health, usually offset with advantages in other important areas such as health or special abilities.
Tank – A class of character or hero in an esports game known for a large amount of health and/or their survivability.
Throw – When a player or team purposely give up the round or match despite ongoing play. Usually associated with bad sportsmanship.
Ultimate – A special ability of a character or hero, usually their most powerful or effective play.
Zoning – The act of aggressively forcing the opposition out of a certain part of the map to gain a tactical advantage.
What about game-specific terminology?
If we included all the jargon and slang which has organically arisen from the most popular competitive esports scenes, this page would be too long to comprehend. Check out the game-specific terms of each of our favourite supports on the main hub pages, as listed below.