Tournaments and eSports leagues have been held for a number of years. But those that are held nowadays are a world away from the early days. Interest in eSports has gained momentum recently and bigger and bigger audiences are being attracted. Contests used to be held in small venues but now are held in major sporting venues such as Wembley Arena in London, the Staples Centre in Los Angeles and even Madison Square Gardens. And it's not just live audiences that have been increasing. Many more are watching online and there are even dedicated TV channels. Bigger audiences of course means bigger prize pools. It's now very common for competitions to be worth millions.
Keeping track of all that's going on is not easy. The eSports scene changes on a regular basis. We're providing on this page, details of some of the biggest leagues and tournaments you can expect to enjoy currently. We'll keep the list updated as and when we hear of something new.
This is the biggest of them all and is based on DOTA 2. It was first held in 2011 and annually ever since. The first tournament served to introduce the game to the general public and was streamed live to an online audience. This tournament is hosted and organised by the DOTA 2 developers, Valve Corporation. For the first tournament 16 teams were invited and they put up a $1.6 million prize pool. The largest in eSports history at the time. A number of changes have taken place over the years, including qualification, prize pools and location of the event. It is also now broadcast on mainstream TV as well as over the internet. Thanks to a partnership with ESPN.
This tournament series has been taking place since 2015 and was started by Valve Corporation. The International, together with a few other individual tournaments are incorporated together to make the series. Each of the individual tournaments are hosted by third party organisers and held in various countries around the world. There have been 5 DOTA Majors so far, with the last being held in the National Palace of Arts, Kiev in the Ukraine.
First held in 2011 at the DreamHack Digital Festival it is now one of the most eagerly awaited eSports events of the year. The 'Summoner's Cup' is presented to the winning team along with a very generous prize. Most recently, the winning team walked away with more than $2 million. Over the years the format has changed and currently there are 16 teams who qualify for the tournament based on regional league performances. There are 5 leagues, all of which have either two or three automatic qualifiers. The remaining sports are determined via a playoff system. Matches are played in a best of one format and the top two teams progressing to the knockout stages. All matches in the knockout stages as well as the final are played in a best of five format.
ESL stands for Electronic Sports League and is one of the biggest competition organisers in eSports today. ESLPlay, a platform provided by ESL, offers ranking tournaments for players. Providing them with a way to work their way up through the ranks to Major level. Reaching this level means they are eligible to play in professional competitions. The main ones organised by ESL are game specific 'Pro Leagues' and the ESL One series of tournaments. Several of the most popular games have had their own Pro League. For example, Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Rocket League and Halo 5.
Also organised by ESL, this is another series of tournaments that takes place around the world. Introduced in 2007 to help eSports gain exposure they have followed much the same format from the beginning. A number of small qualifying events are held every year resulting in a Grand Final.
This is a premier eSports league for the game Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Launched in 2016, it features the best teams from around the world. Every year there are two seasons, each of which lasts several weeks.
Season 1 – Runs from May to July, with 24 teams taking part, separated into six groups of four. Teams in the groups play each other and get seeded for the group semifinals. The team with the most points plays the team with the least points, and the 2nd and 3rd teams play each other. The winners then play to determine the group winner. Group winners qualify automatically for the playoffs and each runner up makes it into a last chance qualifier. This leaves a total of eight teams who play a single elimination bracket until there are only two teams left.
Season 2 – the format was changed for season 2, maybe because it was a little too complicated. 120 teams take part overall, with 16 teams in the main league. The top 8 teams from season 1 qualified automatically and other teams earned a place through a series of open and closed qualifiers.
The events we've already mentioned are the biggest eSports competitions on the basis of audience numbers and/or prize money. There are plenty more tournaments and leagues that take place. Almost one for every day of the year. There are a number that are especially notable, for various reasons. So here's a short list.
Apex – Super Smash Bros tournament with side events for Pokemon, fighting games, etc.
Capcom Pro Tour/Capcom Cup – Street Fighter tournament sponsored by Capcom
Call of Duty Championship/World League – A Call of Duty eSports league that was started in 2016. Played on Call of Duty: Black Ops III for PlayStation 4 and acts as a qualifying for the annual Call of Duty Championship.
Evolution Championship Series – The largest fighting games competition in the US.
Major League Gaming – One of the largest competitions in the US/ Competitions are held across the country and feature a number of different games.
FIFA Interactive World Cup – An annual gaming competition organised by FIFA and EA Sports
Smite World Championship – The flagship tournament for SMITE, a third-person MOBA developed by Hi-Rez Studios. It currently involves 14 teams from 6 regions and has $1 million in prize money.
World Cyber Arena – The successor to the World Cyber Games that started in October 2014 in Yinchuan, China.
Halo World Championships – An industry led eSports league for the Halo series with a prize pool in 2016 of $2 million.