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Esports jargon: Your guide to the terminology used in competitive gaming


Trying to get into esports but currently cheesing your way through the vocabulary barrier? We cover all the bases here.

The burgeoning field of esports has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. However, there's a lot to know and the new breed of hotshot commentators more or less assume you've been playing the game in question for 10 years. Here's a helpful guide to beating the most basic borax.


This stands for "area of effect". Most of the time, this refers to a magic spell or a special move that is less about hammering one specific target and more about punishing as many things as possible inside a circular spot (usually positioned right on the player character). It's wholesale destruction, basically.


No, this doesn't stand for bowel movement. You're not far off though. This stands for "bad manners" and is used to describe somebody being unsportsmanlike. It's important to note that what constitutes bad manners can vary wildly from game to game. But, generally speaking, trash-talking will earn you this.


This typically applies to games that come with classes. A build is a variant of a basic class – a specifically crafted, dedicated set-up designed to achieve one or more things. Usually, the output desired is shaped by factors like armour, perks and weaponry.


Sort of like a streamer, but in this case, the individual isn't actually a part of the action. It's a fancy word for a commentator. The person nattering in your ear, explaining the things you can more or less see for yourself.


Used to be synonymous with an old corn chip brand that disappeared in the face of Doritos' dominance – in a modern context, it means "crowd control". A player assigned to CC must basically do the Spartan thing in the movie 300 by positioning themselves between a lot of enemies and their goal.


If somebody said you cheesed something, they're implying you have borderline cheated your way to success. You should maybe think about punching them. No, not really. What is a cheesy tactic and what isn't can be hotly debated from game to game? One example: winning in Street Fighter by brute-force overwhelming a player who is blocking – total cheese victory.


A cooldown is the time you must wait to use a special move or ability once more. The visual representation of this is usually the slow filling up of an opaque icon until it finally lights up brighter than usual. Knowing how to manage the timing of cooldowns is imperative to success. For example, most Call of Duty games have life systems based on cooldowns.


DPS or "damage per second" is all about how much hurt you can inflict upon an unfortunate thing in a set amount of time. For example, Destiny and/or Diablo players will seek out weapons of a higher tier because their DPS output will allow them to shred through enemies faster.


DQ means disqualified. We're not sure what you did to deserve this, but you probably shouldn't do it again. Alternatively: cheat better next time. Put some effort into your deception.


The electronic equivalent of getting your Old MacDonald on, farming is all about the deliberate and focussed cultivation of a certain item or thing. For example, Destiny players out to upgrade their guns will have to scour the game overworld for a substance called spinmetal. Warning: farming is usually mind-numbingly boring.


This means being a jerk to your fellow players. This can be done via chat, or you could opt for the more personal and somewhat antiquated dispersal method that is vocalised verbal abuse. Choice inventive might include the targeting of the opposite party's mother. You might also advise them to engage in a one-person feat that's a high estimation of their bedroom athleticism.

Fog of War

Now here's a real-time strategy favourite. In games like Command & Conquer, the viewable overworld will expand and contract depending upon where the player has their units positioned. Basically, if you don't have soldiers in an area, then who's to say what's going on there? Thus the game covers it in a murky grey miasma of un-surety.


This could go one of two ways. The first is "first-person shooter", which is a very popular genre of gaming where you kill things from the point of view of the shooter. The second is "frames per second". This is a technical term that concerns the rate of consecutive images (frames) appearing on a TV or monitor. Basically, 60+fps is good and 30fps is acceptable. If you have less than 20fps, it's time to go buy a new PC.


Ganking is the unpleasant phenomenon that is "gang killing". No Marquis of Queensbury rules here, folks, just a whole bunch of people picking on one person. Generally speaking, this is frowned upon in PvP (player vs player) games like the Dark Souls series where the Tyler Durden rules of “two people to a fight and one fight at a time, guys” very much applies.


Once upon a time, in the golden age of online gaming when people weren't inherently evil, GG meant "good game". It was a quick way of delivering a complimentary head nod to your opponent. Nowadays, it's used almost exclusively as a sarcastic insult. Often with "EZ" (easy) tacked on the end to further rub it in.

Glass cannon

This is as dangerous as it sounds. Being a glass cannon means you have a character who has been geared to deliver massive amounts of damage at the expense of their own wellbeing.


Have you noticed that a lot of these terms are different ways to describe players being dicks to one another? Yeah, add griefing to that list. Rather than angry in-game chat or verbal abuse via microphone, griefing is the process of playing in such a way as to maximise annoyance for other people.


The act of luring a bunch of (usually not that bright) AI enemies along behind you, like the tail of a kite. This is a diversionary tactic employed to buy time, bait the AI into walking into a trap or as a simple means of crowd control.


This is the current community consensus on the best, most optimal way to play the game. This usually includes the best weapons, class builds and tactics to use. Note that the meta is usually thrown into upheaval whenever the developer tweaks something in a patch or hot fix.


When developers notice that a facet of their game is unbalanced, they'll nerf it. The pessimistic alternate view is that nerfing is sucking the joy out of an overpowered thing to make it as unremarkable as the other things in the game.


OP stands for "overpowered". It could refer to a weapon, a class or a strategy. Things that are OP generally won't stay that way for long, thanks to the modern magic that is patching and hotfixes. Back in the old days, you were just stuck with the unfairness.


Truly awful spelling of the word "wrecked". Typically deployed as "get rekt", this means you have been, or are about to be, defeated soundly – embarrassingly so. Bolster your self-esteem accordingly.


Random number generator gets shortened to RNG. It concerns the elements of the game that are purely up to chance. It's a roll of the developer's digital dice. This is most often applied to loot drops, and as time has gone on, people have become convinced that the patron saint of percentage chance is a deity known as "RNGesus". Praise be to him.


People who lose and don't take it with good grace are known as salty. You'll come across this a lot because the Internet is just about the biggest collection of bad sports going. There's more sodium chloride here than Lake Eyre.


This is a modern synonym for the phrase "try-hard". A server full of "sweaty kids" is an online experience comprised of people (of any age) who are miles better than you. The only way to salvage the tattered remnants of your ego is to suggest they had to practice night and day to achieve this skill level.


This is a gamer who uses the Internet to broadcast their gameplay to the world. For some reason, the world enjoys watching complete strangers play games for them while making chit-chat via a headset and webcam. Beats the hell out of doing IRL stuff, I guess.


Esports is a tough racket and the pressures to perform can be incredibly high at the elite level. This is why every once in a while you'll see an incredibly disgruntled competitor "throw" a match in pure frustration. I suppose the actual sports equivalent would be John McEnroe smashing his racquet. Here, keyboards and monitors break just as well.


An ultimate is the absolute most effective special ability a player character can pull off. These are usually quite showy affairs, too, and when they fail to connect, there's a lot of embarrassment to go around.


This is the process of thoroughly locking down an area in a map. Usually, a "lane" or major thoroughfare that funnels your enemy in a manner that's very disadvantageous to them. It can also involve another term called "camping", which is often used derogatorily.

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