Esports Tournaments

With more viewers that the Champions League Final, this years eSports tournaments are the unmissable events for any respectable gamer. CS:GO, Dota or League of Legends tournaments, here’s the cups and competitions you need to tune-up to in 2019.


NESO 2018 Chengdu

3rd – 6th January | Chengdu, China | Total prize Pool: ¥90,000 (≃ $13,208)

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Just like football has its Champions League, so do esports have their own grand events, viewed by hundreds of millions of players.  DOTA 2’s The International, League of Legends Worlds, IEM Katowice, Blizzcon, Call of Duty Championships and, a more recent addition – the Overwatch League Playoff – record billions of views and millions on players betting on their favourite teams.  

DOTA 2’s The International

When looking at the overall prize pool, the absolute juggernauth among esports tournaments worldwide  is Dota 2 The International. Even though the event is not amongst the most watched esports tournaments on a global level, the prize pool offered dwarfs that of any other tournament. Since 2014, The International constantly offers the largest prize pools in esports, with a new record being set in 2018: $25,532,177.  As a comparison, the second-biggest prize pool of 2018 was LoL 2018 World Championships’ prize of $2,250,000.

The International managed to dominate the prize pools tops thanks to a very unique fund model that involves the game’s community. Valve – who owns DOTA & Steam – contributes $1.6 Million, as it did every year since 2011, while the players  contribute by purchasing in-game items called “Battle Passes”. 25% of the all proceeds from the “Battle Pass” purchases go directly to The International Prize Pool. in 2017, the community contribution mounted up to $23 million.

League of Legends Worlds

RIOT’s League of Legends basically wrote the book on how a global esports tournament should be organised, an effort that was rewarded this year with a new world record for the maximum amount of online viewers in the history of esports: over 200 Million users watched the final between Fnatic and Invictus Gaming taking place in Seoul.

LOL Worlds series are organized in 12 different regions across the globe with five of the leagues being weighed more heavily than the rest. These are Korea’s LCK, China’s LPL, Europe’s EU LCS, North America’s NA LCS, and Taiwan/Hong Kong/Macau’s LMS. 

The “Worlds” Final is the climax of this tournament that brings together the top teams from each league in a battle for the Summoner’s Cup and the title of World Champion. The event is organised each year in a different region. The total prize pool for the 2018 LoL Worlds’ Tournament in Seoul was $2,250,000.

Intel Extreme Masters Tournaments

Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) are a series of esports tournament series of Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), League of Legends, and StarCraft® II, organized by Electronic Sports League. The series has multiple events around the world with the IEM Katowice, taking place in Poland, being its crown jewel.

The IEM Katowice is the largest tournament not belonging to a single publisher, its 2017 edition being watched online by over 46 million unique users, a 35% growth compared to the previous year. 

The event also attracts a lot of physical attendees, over 173,000 fans joining the event and surrounding festival over the course of two weekends. The IEM Katowice CS:GO 2018 tournament had an overall prize pool of $524,000.


Blizzcon is the annual, California-hosted, Blizzard-powered event that promotes its main franchises such as Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch.

Started as a convention for Blizzard fans, the event now hosts some major esports events such as the StarCraft II World Championship Series Global Finals and the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship Finals. Hearthstone and Overwatch tournaments, although present, have separate world championships.

In numbers, the 2018 Heroes of the Storm Global Championship Grand Finals had a total prize pool of $1 Million and reached a peak number of online viewers of 183,180. In terms of physical presence, Blizzcon 2017 had a record number of more than 35,000

Call of Duty World

The eSports industry is predominantly by PC players and MOBA titles such as LoL, DOTA 2 and recently, Heroes of the Storm.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for console players. Call of Duty is the eSport title of the moment, thanks to its growing popularity in the USA and its growing prize pool.

The Call of Duty World League Championship 2018 organized by Activision in Columbus, USA, offered a total prize pool of $1,500,000 and was watched online by over 324,434 users. The winning team of the last final, Evil Geniuses left home with $600,000.

Overwatch League

Overwatch League is the newest addition to the top of global scale eSports tournaments. The tournament is organized by Blizzard Entertainment, and run under the Major League Gaming organization. Thanks to this two powerhouses backing it – and the fact that they announced franchise fees of $20 million per team for the inaugural season. For those unfamiliar with the eSports franchise system, it’s a model that replicates the organizational system of traditional sports, take football for instance – with city-based teams and regular season play.

The Overwatch League, or OWL, is divided into two divisions – The Atlantic Division (East Coasts and Europe) and the Pacific Division (West Coast and Asia). The First Season’s Grand Final which took place in New York City on July 27 and 28, 2018, saw the London Spitfire team winning over the Philadelphia Fusion to become the first Overwatch League champions and leave home with $1,000,000.