Top Esports Tournaments Around the World
The discussion about whether professional gaming should be considered a sport is open.
Still, most professionals agree that gaming is on the right path to becoming an official sport.
The hype around esports is enormous, and esports tournaments’ popularity is on the rise. This emerging industry is expanding faster every year, and it’s captivating tens of thousands of spectators across the globe.
With that in mind, what are some of the biggest esports tournaments?
This article will focus on some of the most-viewed esports tournaments around the world and their growing popularity.
World’s Top esports tournaments to keep an eye on
Take a look at our guide to some of the world’s top esports tournaments.
League of Legends World Championship
The LoL Championship or simply Worlds is an annual professional championship organized by Riot Games. Unofficially, this championship represents the culmination of the season in professional gaming. The World Championship was founded in 2011, and it takes place in different locations around the world. The first location for the final event was in Sweden, while the 2020 final took place in China.
The teams compete for the 70-pound trophy called the Summoner’s Cup and a multi-million dollar prize pool. The tournament has a round-robin format and single eliminations, while the number of participating teams differ. For example, in 2011, eight teams participated, while in 2020, the competition included 22 teams.
The League of Legends tournament is one of the most prestigious gaming tournaments globally, with a record-breaking 99.6 million viewership in 2017. Due to its growing popularity, this championship could potentially be the first esport to become an Olympic event. It has already been included as a medal event in the 2022 Asian Games.
The most successful team in the tournament’s history is T1 from South Korea, with three championships.
CS:GO Major Championships
The Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament is commonly known as the Majors. The game has been developed by Valve, which is also the tournament’s primary sponsor. The Majors were founded in 2013, initially hosted by DreamHack in Sweden, with a prize pool of $250,000. However, the global interest in the tournament led to an expansion, making the Majors one of the top esports tournaments in the world.
Its current prize pool is around a million dollars, and the number of competing teams has increased since the competition started. From 2013 to 2017, 16 teams participated in the Majors each year. That number increased to 24 in 2018, and it has not changed since then.
Before the 2019 Majors, the tournament organizer announced that the top 14 teams from the 2018 Majors would directly qualify for the next tournament while the two teams without any wins would not receive an invitation.
Instead, the two positions would be filled through the playoff stage at the Minors event. Unlike other tournaments, the CS:GO championships are interconnected, meaning performances in one tournament impact your ranking at another.
The team with the most wins is Astralis, from Denmark, with four titles.
The International Dota 2 Championships
Another championship produced and hosted by Valve is the International — an esports championship tournament for Dota 2 held annually for teams all over the world. The tournament debuted at Gamescom in 2011 as a promotional game for the event. Since then, the Championship has been annually held with an exception in 2020. The first Championship was held in Germany, while the most recent tournament took place in China.
Eighteen teams have the right to participate in the Championship, with 12 receiving direct invites based on their performances in the Dota Pro Circuit — a Dota 2 tournament series. The other six teams are placed from winning qualifying playoff sections in their respective regions (Europe, China, North America, South America, Southeast Asia, and CIS regions).
Unlike other tournaments of this caliber, the Internationals’ prize pool has been crowdfunded since 2013 via a battle pass system. 25% of all revenue is directly added to the prize pool. Interestingly, the Internationals have the largest prize pool among esports competitions — $34 million.
The Aegis of Champions trophy is awarded to the winners. The OG team, from various European countries, is the only team with two Championship titles and the latest winner.
Fortnite World Cup
One of the youngest esport tournaments in the world, the Fortnite World CupUS Open, the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York, in July of every year.
For the 2019 competition, the Cup had online events over ten weeks for the players to place for the main competition. Both solo players and duo teams participated, so the top scorers from each competing region proceeded to the World Cup.
Around 20 players/teams competed in the finals, each of them playing a total of six matches. The player or the duo with the highest score after six matches won the grand prize. The top prize was around $3 million, while the total prize pool was about $30 million.
The 2019 event had other competitions — the Creative Cup and Pro-Am, for teams only. The 2020 event has been canceled, and so has the 2021 Cup, but online events will be held and announced accordingly.
Intel Extreme Masters
One of the longest-standing esports tournaments in the industry, IEM was founded in 2007, and as of 2020, it hosts events in Starcraft II and Counter-Strike. In the past, IEM hosted other games, such as Warcraft III, World of Warcraft, DotA, and LoL, among others. Turtle Entertainment owns the league.
The finals are held in Katowice, Poland, while the mid-season events are held worldwide, in places like Sydney, Chicago, and Shanghai. The tournament utilizes many offline qualifiers, and the member of each group that placed first goes directly to the semifinals, while the second and third place members go into the quarterfinals. The qualifiers are held for players from Europe, North America, and Southeast Asia.
The total prize pool increased from a mere $160,000 in 2007 to around $1 million in 2019. The winners differ depending on the games played. For example, the most recent CS:GO winners, as of December 2020, is the team Astralis from Denmark.
Evolution Championship Series
This championship series, commonly known as Evo, has been present since 1996, and it focuses exclusively on fighting games. Players from around the world are invited to join the Championship as the tournaments are entirely open to everyone.
Evo is held in various locations worldwide, with the most recent one being at the Mandalay Bay resort in Las Vegas. The 2019 series featured nine games, including Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Mortal Kombat 11, Samurai Shodown, and Soulcalibur VI.
The player with the most championships is Justin Wong from the United States, with nine titles, the last one being in 2014. The most recent winner is Seon-woo Lee from South Korea. He is also the most recent champion from 2019 for Samurai Shodown and the player with the second-highest number of wins thus far — six. The 2020 Evo was canceled.