eSports Glossary

eSports Academy Course 103

Like any sport, competitive gaming has its own share of terms and phrases. You can find an introduction to eSports here, which I recommend reading first if you’re not familiar with it. I recommend reading that first because it’s a great foundation for learning the ins and outs of esports, but it isn’t necessary in order to understand this article.

In any case, we’ll cover the broader terms first and then go into the specific words you’d want to know for some of the bigger games.

Fundamental Terms and Definitions

“KDA” also written “K/D/A” = an acronym that represents the performance of a player by the number of kills scored, deaths taken, and assists given; it’s often displayed as a ratio and this ratio is calculated by dividing the number of kills by the number of deaths. So, if I have scored 20 kills and died 10 times, my KDA is 2.0.

“Assist” = although there are certain aspects of particular games that can be counted as assists, it is universally used to describe a player dealing damage to an enemy that a teammate then kills; this can be over a duration of time, too, depending on the game. For instance, if I land some hits on an opponent and then move away for a while, I will score an assist when my teammate kills them. Restoring full health in most games negates the assist because the damage dealt is reversed.

“Bait” = feigning weakness or vulnerability to lure in or instill false-confidence in an opponent.

“Carry” = when a player’s great performance balances out the bad performance of his or her team; when the rest of the team doesn’t pull their weight, a player with outstanding performance may carry the team to victory.

“Push” or sometimes “Rush” = advancement in play, typically where multiple teammates work together to conquer the same area and drive back the opponents; a blitz.

“Camp” = when a player digs in and remains in the same spot, usually in a corner or some spot with a minimal number of approach routes, and doesn’t leave for a significant amount of time.

“Gank” = more than just ‘double-teaming,’ this is when multiple players attack a single opponent who is often alone. This is an important term to remember because those that survive a gank all on their own, without retreating or being helped by a teammate, or better yet, repel/kill the attackers are showing a lot of skill.

“Killstreak” = successive kills without dying, in many games these are rewarded with commendations (in-game medals) and abilities.

“Perks” = perks are certain characteristics of a player’s character. For example, the Ghost perk in the Call of Duty franchise masks the player from detection.

“AoE” = an acronym for Area of Effect; this is used to describe the radius of a specific attack or move—if Move Z has a radius of 2.5 meters, then everything within 2.5 meters in all directions will be affected by it.

“Buff” = an increase in a value that can be obtained in-game or put in place through patches from the developer; for example, a damage buff is an increase in the power of attacks.

“Cooldown” = this is the period between the activation of an ability and the following time it can be activated; the video game equivalent of the refractory period.

“Deny” = when an opponent makes an attempt to accomplish something and the player counter-acts, canceling the action. If my opponent sees a powerup that they want and I get to it before them, I’ve denied them.

“Farm” = the repetitive action of collecting a resource, this can be collecting experience points (XP or Exp), kills, a currency, and so forth.

“Nerf” = this is the opposite of a Buff; when the developers weaken the effect of an item, ability, or character.

“NPC” = an acronym representing all Non-Playable Characters.

“Spam” = repeatedly using a move/ability in quick succession with no deviation; for example, a player that only uses Move Q would be referred to as a ‘Q-spammer.’

Player-Specific Phrases

“AFK” = an acronym representing the absence of the player—Away From Keyboard.

“GG” = ‘good game,’ used to show sportsmanship.

“GG no re” = the same as GG except the player asserts that they don’t want to play against that opponent again—typically, it reflects that the victor isn’t confident they could win again.

“Flame” = harassment between players through a chat, it’s sister-term is “Roast.”

“Grief” = to play with the intention to annoy and anger opponents.

“Salty” = used to describe a bitter or angry player, specifically a sore loser.

“Cheese” = a playstyle of deliberately using ‘cheap’ or tricky moves to gain an edge over the opponent.

Unique Game Jargon

League of Legends

“Auto Attack” = a simple move that can be performed by a champion repeatedly without new orders (input commands).

“Tank” = A champion that is designed to take and receive high amounts of damage, he is usually the one to lead the attacks.

“Carry” = Champions who are very dependent on items and farming. They can become very powerful and can win the game for the team.

“ADC” = Attack Damage Carry; an ADC is a champion that deals high damage throughout the match under the protection of teammates.

“Babysit” = when a player frequently assists a teammate in order to help them get more powerful.

“Jungling” = To just stay in the jungle in order to gain experience and gold instead of the lane killing neutrals.

“Backdoor” = when a player attacks the enemy’s nexus (home base) while most of them, if not all of them, are occupied somewhere else.

“Minions” = Creeps and monsters, when killed, you gain experience and gold.

“Ghost” = to gain information from the opponent’s perspective in order to get an advantage.

“Kite” = when a player attacks while they retreat, scoring damage on a pursuing opponent who can’t attack.

“AP/Ability Power” = A type of champion that boosts the power of most abilities.

“AD/Attack Damage” = A type of champion that increases your auto attacks and some abilities.

“Pentakill” = this is a feat of high skill: a player single-handedly kills all five of the opponents, thus the enemy nexus is free game.

“Smurf” = the secondary account of a player that is of lower level or rank; it’s a double-edged sword because tilted players can earn some wins, but the more they play on their smurf, the lower their skill becomes.

“Summoner” = Term given to the players as they choose and summon a champion to the field and control them.

“Champ/Champion” = The character that the summoner calls on and controls.

“Tower/Turret” = A structure building that serves as defense of the lanes and the base.

“Support” = Champions whose main role is to heal their allies, protect them, increase their damage, or sabotage the enemy.

“Jungling” = To just stay in the jungle in order to gain experience and gold instead of the lane killing neutrals.

“1×1” = One on one custom game.

“3’s” = A match of teams with 3 champions each.

“5’s” = A match teams with 5 champions each.

“Ace” = When all champions on a team are dead at the same time.

“Assasin” = A type of player with a forte of rapidly ambushing and slaying enemy champions. They have abilities that may include stealthing themselves or having a strong dash skill.

“Aura bot” = A champion who is equipped with multiple aura-producing items to assist teammates.

“B” = Return to base.

“Blind pick” = A type of match where all participants select their champion simultaneously. Both teams are unaware who.

“Bot” = An AI-controlled champion.

“Bot Game” = A match where almost all the players are bots.

“Bounty” = The prize a target is worth when slain.

“Broken” = When something in the game is not working fine, a player, an item, a spell, etc.

“Bruiser” = A champion who has high health and can give higher damage per second to an opponent.

“Bug” = A non-intentional defect in the game.

“Cap” = A limit which something cannot pass.

“CD/Cooldown” = Waiting for an ability’s cooldown to be through before you can use it again.

“Channeling” = The time required to perform certain spells.

“Caster” = A player whose source of damage, either magic or physical damage is their abilities.


“Anti-Eco” = when a team/player is aware that the opponents are doing an ‘eco round’ and buys weapons specialized for making money.

“Ace” = To single-handedly kill the whole opposing team during a single round of a match.

“Boost” = jumping on a teammate’s back in order to access places that a single person cannot.

“Burst” = A firing mode in which the player shoots 3 bullets at a time.

“Eco round” = this is where players buy only pistols, grenades, or nothing in order to save.

“Clutch” = Winning in a situation in which the player is the last man standing or as the underdog in a situation when winning seemed impossible.

“Nade stack” = the act of a series of grenades in a particular direction; single-man artillery.

“De_” = The map prefix for the type of game where you need to defuse the bomb. (de_dust)

“Totem” = similar to Boosting, this is when one player stands on a teammate and both of them defend an area.

“Es_” = The map prefix for the escape type of game.

“Wall bang” = a kill scored by a player shooting through a surface that bullets can penetrate.

“European Buy” = When half of the team buys a rifle, and the other half saves.

“Gg_” = The map prefix for the former Gun Game game-type in Counter-Strike games.

“GH” = Good Half.

“Kit” = The defusal kit or the rescue kit that is used to defuse the bomb.

“Pistol Round” = Initial part of the round when players have default money to buy only pistols.

“Quick switch” = rapidly switching between your weapons. From pistol to rifle to grenade, etc.

“Pop Flash” = Timing a flash to explode right in front of an opponent or coordinating with a teammate to have the perfect timing.

“Save” = When out of time, opt to retreat or hide to save the current weapons and the equipment to be used in the next round.

“Worldspawn” = To die from falling.

Dota 2

“Aggro” = an abbreviation for aggression; this is the hostile attention of an AI controlled unit, such as towers. For instance, if my teammate needs to get past a tower, I can enter its range and take its aggressive focus so my teammate can pass unharmed.

“Base” = A heavily guarded and defended area at each team’s corner of the map, with three entrances, one from each lane.

“Burst Damage” = a high amount of damage dealt over a short period of time, often simply referred to as ‘Burst’ for the sake of quick communication.

“Roshan” or “Rosh” = A hard-to-kill neutral creep that drops the Aegis of the Immortal when killed. Respawns after it is killed.

“Caster” = a type of hero whose primary function is to cast spells, a mage; this can also refer to a live person commentating on an ongoing game—from ‘broadcaster.’

“Creeps” = The little non-player characters. You gain experience when you’re in the area where they are killed, and earn gold when you give the killing blow.

“Dive” = this is a risky play where a player approaches a hero that is within the range of their tower in an attempt to kill them. When these are performed solo, they are almost always suicide missions. So, it’s common for multiple players to ‘tower dive’ where one takes the aggro of the tower while the other moves in for the kill.

“Woods” = Areas found in between lanes where neutral creeps are found.

“MIA” = see AFK.

“Farming” = When you steadily earn gold and experience just by killing lane creeps and/or neutral creeps.

“Nuke” = a spell designed to blast a ton of damage in a short amount of time.

“Support” = A hero whose main role is to heal, buff and detect his allies as well as sabotage the opponents through disables, slows or debuffs.

“Roamer” = this is used to describe a player who moves between lanes to gank enemy heroes and/or defend allies (this is typically done more in the earlier stages of a match).

“Initiators” = Heroes who are usually strong and leadoff most team fights.

“Skillshot” = an ability that requires precise aim and timing in order to hit an enemy. The number of skillshots successfully landed is a good indicator of a player potentially worth betting on.

“Ganking” = When a team decides to gang upon a solo hero who has wandered away from his teammates.

“Squishy” = used to describe a hero with significantly decreased health and defense, a hero that can only take a relatively small amount of damage before dying.

“Team Wipe” = refers to the event of an entire team dying at once.

Call of Duty

“Collateral” = refers to the event (whether by chance or skill) of killing more than one enemy with a single bullet. This does not apply for explosives or any other AoE weapons.

“X-Ray Sight” = A slang for the Millimeter Scanner, giving you the ability to see players through objects.

“Clutch” = the act of winning the match against the odds, often used as “[player] came in clutch.”

“KillCam” = shows a player’s death from the perspective of the killer. Shows a replay of how a player got killed.

“Dropshot” = immediately dropping to prone position when encountering an enemy, an evasive maneuver performed almost exclusively in close quarters combat situations.

“Team Deathmatch” or “TDM” = A popular game mode where the aim is to kill everyone on the opposing team, and the winning team is the team that reaches a point limit, or if time runs out, has the most points.

“Hardscope” = aiming while being scoped in, which is in derogatory contrast to quickscoping and trickshotting.

“S&D/SnD” or “Search & Destroy” = an elimination-based game mode with the goal of attacking side to either eliminate the defending team or detonate either one of two bomb sites.

“Head Glitch” = when a player uses shoulder-height cover so they have a full view but are completely protected except for their head. This is often foiled by bullet penetration, however.

“HBS” or “Heartbeat Sensor” = It allows the user to track multiple targets. It displays the positions of people who are quite close to and in front of the player.

“Jumpshot” = as opposed to Dropshot, this refers to evading by moving up, by jumping. Often this can be a panic response to a surprise because it allows for mobility.

“HQ” or “Headquarters” = One of the most popular game mode where teams capture a point in the map to gain points.

“No-Scope” = killing an opponent with a sniper rifle by hip-firing, no aiming whatsoever. These are probably the most impressive and satisfying kills to watch.

“Flash” = Using the flashbang grenade to blind the enemies.

“Quickscope” = the act of aiming down sights and firing just as the weapon scope appears, then instantly returning to hip-fire.

“FFA” or “Free-for-All” = A game which puts every player against each other.

“Reload Cancel” = this is when a player interrupts the reloading animation by momentarily sprinting, switching weapons, or meleeing before it is completed. The gun is loaded yet the ‘unnecessary’ animation time is trimmed.

“Demo” = Term for Demolition type of game. Can also refer to a Demo version of a game, used by beginners to learn faster.

“Trickshot” = performing different actions (weapon switching, rapid spinning, jumping off of a high place, etc.) before attempting to kill an enemy, normally done with a sniper rifle quickscope or no-scope.

“LMG” or “Light Machine Gun” = A group of high capacity weapons. They have the same power as to a Heavy Machine Gun, but have more damage and similar capacity to a Submachine Gun.

“SMG” = A group of high mobility, high fire rate weapons.

Fighting Games

“Anti-Air” = a move with high priority used to counter an opponent’s jumping attack.

“Air-to-Air” = similar to the anti-air except that the player, too, performs a jumping attack.

“Chip Damage” = this refers to the damage dealt to an opponent who’s blocking; some fighting games employ this mechanic so that even if you successfully block your opponent’s attack, a very small amount of damage will still be taken.

“Cross-up” or sometimes “Crossup” = an attack from the air that makes the opponent guess which direction they must block.

“Footsies” = when the two opponents both stand outside of combo range and use quick jabs considered to be “safe” offensive moves. Generally, this is a very entertaining style of play.

“Frame Data” = this refers to the number of frames that each move uses. Each animation has a certain amount of frames. Knowledge of frame data and move priority is integral to high-level fighting game strategies.

“Link” = a two-move feat that relies heavily on timing, this is a move that hits before the opponent can recover from the previous hit.

“Mix Up” = attacking various guards (high, low, overhead, and throw are the standard) so as to penetrate defense or prevent a counter-attack. Think of it as the eSports equivalent of breaking someone’s ankles in basketball.

“Poke” = similar to Footsies, this is a move intended to be used at the maximum distance possible. The tactics vary, yet the general uses of poking are: to counter offense, deal consistent damage with minimal risk, and create distance.

“Zone” more often “Zoning” = a highly-technical playstyle; this involves keeping the opponent at bay with mid- and long-range attacks. This is the primary function of projectiles.


“ArP” or “Armor Penetration” = The more ArP you have, the more damage you do.

“AS” or “Attack Speed” = How many times you can autoattack per second.

“Assassin” = Main role is to sneak past the tanks and go straight to the enemies.

“Bait” = When someone lures the enemy god while others plan an attack.

“BD” or “Backdoor” = When you attack a tower without any minions.

“CD” or “Cooldown” = The time you have to wait before you can use an ability again.

“Debuff” = When you make a god weaker or slower.

“Farm” = When you kill minions in order to earn gold.

“Gank” = To sneak up on someone with an intention to kill him. A surprise attack.

“Harass” = To give significant damage to an enemy frequently.

“Jungler” = Someone who stays in the jungle aiming to earn gold just by killing the monsters there.

“Nerf” = To weaken something or someone in order to balance the game.

“Overextending” = It is when a god is too far from the enemy territory making him exposed to ganks.

“Ragequitter” = Someone who just leaves the game because of anger or frustration.

“Noob” = Before, the term was to refer to someone who just started learning the game. Now it is referred to someone who is a bad player.


“AoE” or “Area of Effect” = A term used for spell damage cards that can strike more than one target when used.

“Board Control” = Your ideal state of play when you have one or more minions and your enemy has none.

“Combo” = When you play two cards hand in hand which can either create a new effect or enhance the effect of the other.

“Deck” = A collection of 30 cards you assembled to play in a game.

“Hand” = Comprised of available cards you have on your current turn.

“Mill” = It’s when you force your opponent to draw cards until they have too much and are now forced to throw away the new cards they draw.

“Removal” = The process of eliminating an enemy minion from the board.

“Rush” = When a play focuses on decreasing and reducing the opponent’s health to zero as fast as possible.

“Spell” = A card that doesn’t summon or equip a weapon but has an effect on the battlefield.

“Summon” = When a minion is put into play by the player or by another minion.

“Synergy” = Cards that become more powerful when played together in the same deck.

“Topdeck” = The next card you get from your deck.

I'm a Creative Writing-Psychology double major at Butler University, Class of 2021. My closest friends are the leaders of Butler's eSports Team, so I've become very interested in the subject and I'm excited to get involved in it myself. A lover of video games and writing, working with Lineups is the perfect opportunity for me to coalesce these two passions of mine and gain experience writing professionally.

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