We’re not going to talk about the Champions League today. Nope, the Super
Bowl is not our topic, either. NBA? Scratch that! Today… Today we are going to
talk about another type of tournament – a type of tournament that has been
slowly (but surely) making its way onto the mainstream scene.
As the title suggests, we will be focusing on esports tournaments here. You
must’ve heard about esports unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past
decade or so. There’s no other way you could’ve missed esports’ rapid growth and
the global presence it enjoys today. With it, several other supporting
industries have developed, one of which shines with the brightest light – esports betting.
Esports and esports betting are complementary industries. They are both
pushing each other further and further, creating the optimal environment in
which both can thrive for years to come. And that’s exactly what’s been
happening in front of our very eyes for roughly the last decade or so.
With such rapid growth and great help from online bookies who’ve adopted
esports into their betting markets, esports tournaments flourished, too. They’ve
developed into massive, sophisticated, and glamorous events held in venues
scattered around the entire globe. With many new esports titles trying to come
up to the top, those which are already there are cementing their position as the
industry standard. The likes of Dota 2 Internationals and LoL Worlds already
have a legendary status with millions of dollars on the table… and millions of
live viewers as well!
That’s why we will be discussing not just the importance of top-tier esports
tournaments but their background, too. We will go through the most popular
esports titles, ensuring the coverage of virtually any tournament you might want
to watch or bet on. Obviously, there are plenty of things to cover, so for your
convenience, here’s an anchor box with links that will guide you to your desired
section. Hope you enjoy your stay!
We’re starting off with the game that brought the entire esports industry to
the heights it’s at today. League of Legends has already cemented its spot at
the top of the industry, and it’s showing off its status at every step of the
road. With highly competitive leagues spread across the world and with the
League of Legends World Championship as the icing on the cake, the LoL event
calendar couldn’t be stronger.
Most Popular LoL Tournaments
League of Legends World Championship (LoL Worlds) is the world’s biggest LoL
tournament. It has been delivering great atmosphere, astonishing matches, and
sick prize pools for almost a decade already. Many argue that the first three
seasons were the bee’s knees, but the numbers aren’t having any of that. With
each passing year, LoL Worlds keeps breaking their own records. LoL Worlds 2018
did it again, racking up more than 200 million viewers during the finals.
The prize pool increases with each passing year, too. 2018 LoL Worlds had the
initial prize pool set at $2,225,000, but the final number was significantly
higher due to sales percentages from Championship Kha’Zix and Ward skins. All in
all, LoL Worlds is the most prestigious LoL tournament, and it manages to
captivate hundreds of millions of fans from all around the globe.
Over 200 million concurrent viewers during the LoL Worlds 2018 Finals
In order to qualify for LoL Worlds, most teams will be hoping to do
themselves justice in their regional Championship Series league. The most
dominant ones on this side of the planet are definitely the North America League
of Legends Championship Series (NA LCS) and European League of Legends
Championship Series (EU LCS). Additionally, there are several other iterations
for the eastern world – League of Legends Pro League (LPL), League of Legends
Champions Korea (LCK), and League of Legends Master Series (LMS), to name a few.
Instead of big tournaments portrayed as huge esports events, LCS takes things
a lot slower. These are basically the equivalent of regular seasons of sports
such as football and basketball. However, this does not diminish their
importance in the grand scheme of things. LCS series are important to all
participating teams, not just as a means of qualification for the Worlds but as
genuinely prestigious events to win.
The most dominant Championship Series are based in NA and EU
They are called EU LCS and NA LCS respectively
They consist of two parts – Summer and Spring LCS Split
Other regions have series similar to the EU and NA CS
Mid-Season Invitational (MSI) represents the massive tournament held in
between the two LCS splits. Many will argue that it’s the most important LoL
tournament right after the Worlds. However, we don’t share the same opinion
since we value all-year-long regional leagues more than a tournament that lasts
for roughly two weeks. Still, let’s not take away from the charm of MSI.
For instance, MSI 2018 featured one of the best Grand Finals matches and was
thoroughly enjoyed by millions all around the globe. Of course, we are referring
to the Grand Finals match between Royal Never Give Up and Kingzone DragonX.
Statistics later showed that a total of 60 million fans watched the Grand
Finals, which was a record-breaking number at that time.
League of Legends FAQ
Which of these LoL tournaments is the biggest one?
Undoubtedly, League of Legends World Championship is, by far, the biggest and most prestigious tournament in the competitive LoL calendar. But regional Championship Series and MSI have a certain charm.
Why are all LoL tournaments organized by Riot Games?
Riot Games, developers and publishers of LoL, play the key role in its esports presence. They are always working closely with sponsors and teams, ensuring all of their events go according to high standards. By making themselves the base of League of Legends esports, Riot Games left no room for the huge third-party tournaments that are popular with other esports titles.
Now we are going to take a closer look at some of the most lucrative esports
events out there. It’s true -Dota 2 is the highest-paying esports title at the
moment, and we doubt that’s going to change anytime soon. Or ever, for that
matter. With that said, it’s no wonder the 50 highest-earning professional
esports athletes are all Dota 2 players.
It’s all about the money here, and that brings us to the focal point of this
section – the most popular Dota 2 tournaments. The crown jewel of them all is
definitely The International. So, without further ado, let’s check it out and
see what’s so special about it!
Most Popular Dota 2 Tournaments
With each passing year, the total prize pools of The International Dota 2
tournaments keep on rising. To put things into better perspective, The
International 2018, TI8 in short, had just above $25,000,000 in total prize pool
money. But only a fraction of that money was financed directly from the
organizers’ pockets ($1,600,000). Everything else was funded through 25% of all
Battle Pass sales, which amounted to almost $24,000,000.
With all that being said, it doesn’t take a genius to understand just how
huge The International tournaments really are. Their popularity is unearthly,
racking up close to 70 million total views on Twitch. Total time watched is even
crazier, amounting close to 500,000,000 hours of content. Taking all that into
consideration, it becomes pretty clear that The International Dota 2 tournaments
are the creme de la creme of what the esports competitive scene has to offer at
The most lucrative event in the history of esports
The International series bears the highest prize pools in esports
Considered as the pinnacle of the competitive esports calendar
TI8 featured roughly $25,000,000 in total prize pool money
Back in July 2017, Valve announced it would change the concept of their Dota
2 Pro Circuit system. They also announced they would be sponsoring Dota 2 Majors
with $500,000 as well as Dota 2 Minors with $150,000. However, Dota 2 Majors had
additional prerequisites in terms of qualifiers from each of the six main
regions. Furthermore, the Majors’ organizers also had to splash out an
additional $500,000 for the total prize pool.
Dota 2 Circuit Points play a key role in qualifying for The International,
too, and that’s what Majors are all about. Most recently, we’ve witnessed
several outstanding Dota 2 esports festivals, such as the Kuala Lumpur Major,
the Kiev Major, the Bucharest Major, and so on. Each of these tournaments
featured $1,000,000 in total prize pool money with plenty of Dota 2 Pro Circuit
Points on the line. With that being said, their importance cannot be taken for
granted, as they are a very viable method of qualifying for The International.
Minimum $1,000,000 in prize pool, half of that sponsored by Valve
Only a handful of Majors per competitive season
Spectacular esports events with massive live crowds watching the action
There is just one more somewhat noteworthy Dota 2 tournament to talk about.
DreamLeague is the name, and it is usually among the first Minors of each Dota 2
competitive season. There have already been ten DreamLeague Dota 2 tournaments,
with each new installment breaking the records of the previous one. They are
held in Stockholm and are a part of the Dota 2 Pro Circuit with prize pools
increasing steadily over the last couple of years.
Dota 2 FAQ
Are The International tournaments the biggest esports events?
Yes, they most certainly are. Perhaps they are not the most viewed ones, but they are definitely the biggest in terms of presentation, organization, prize pool, and esports presence.
What’s the biggest prize pool coming from an esports tournament?
This title also goes to The International tournaments. More precisely, to TI8, whose prize pool amounted to over $25,000,000.
Where can I bet on Dota 2 matches?
If you’re interested in betting on Dota 2, please check our dedicated Dota 2 betting article.
Finally, we’ve reached the most popular first-person shooter (FPS) esports
title. There’s no question about it – many esports fans believe Counter-Strike:
Global Offensive is the only true esports title and look down on multiplayer
online battle arena (MOBA) titles such as LoL and Dota 2. While we can’t go into
personal preferences, we can say with accuracy that CS:GO is a story of its own
in the always-changing world of esports.
The most notable aspect of CS:GO is its esports presence. With hundreds of
noteworthy online tournaments and leagues, CS:GO is definitely the esports title
with the biggest exposure. And it’s no surprise considering it has around half a
million active players on a day-to-day basis. Talk about consistency! In
addition to all that, CS:GO has a massive top-tier tournament pool, too. It’s
bigger than any other esports title out there as far as tournament count goes.
With that in mind, let’s check out the most notable names to better understand
the puzzle that is CS:GO!
Most Popular CS:GO Tournaments
ESL Pro League
The ESL Pro League is probably the most notable CS:GO tournament at the
moment. It already has eight successful seasons behind it and is nicely poised
with fantastic viewership numbers and thrilling contests. However, some people
still don’t like it because it’s not your typical huge one-week tournament.
Instead, ESL Pro League is, as its name suggests, a league! But it’s not a
big one. ESL Pro League Season 8, for example, lasted for roughly six weeks in
the two biggest regions (EU and NA). In the other three (South America, Asia,
and Oceania), it was slightly shorter due to a lower number of competing teams.
But after the end of the regional leagues, it is time for the true spectacle!
Meet the ESL Pro League Finals – mesmerizing festivals of esports that put
together a gaming show which you’ll never forget. Some of the most memorable
matches and scenes tied to CS:GO’s history can be traced back to these
tournaments. With rich prize pools reaching $750,000, plenty of big-time
sponsors, and millions of devoted fans from all over the place, it’s safe to say
ESL Pro League has what it takes to be crowned as the most popular CS:GO
tournament at the moment!
Five Regional Qualifiers
The Finals are a true festival of all things esports
The CS:GO Majors is a group of the biggest tournaments on the CS:GO
competitive calendar which are all sponsored by Valve. Not only do they feature
the best teams on the planet, but they also bear in-game items and features.
We’re talking stickers, pick’em challenges, souvenir cases, and all that good
Furthermore, they also possess a unique tournament and team ranking system.
It consists of three stages – Challengers Stage, Legends Stage, and Champions
Stage, with a total of 24 teams competing in Majors. The qualification system is
based on teams’ previous performances at Majors. For new teams (labeled as The
New Challengers), regional Minors bring eight additional entries to the
tournament. However, new teams will find it tricky to reach the final stages
since they have to start off from the first one – Challengers Stage.
It’s the pinnacle of DreamHack CS:GO tournaments – DreamHack Masters. You can
think of Masters as DH’s flagship tournaments since they also host the
lesser-known DreamHack Open events. As far as Masters are concerned, we are
talking about massive gaming manifestations with prize pools reaching the
$250,000 mark. With a live audience cheering for the players and highly talented
commentators and hosts, DreamHack Masters CS:GO series are definitely worth
mentioning here… and so is ECS!
Last but not least, we have the CS:GO Esports Championship Series (ECS). This
tournament has a special charm to it. That’s something that cannot be said for
any other CS:GO tournament out there. What are we talking about here? Well, ECS
is the tournament that brings the greatest talents from EU and NA
regions to battle it out against each other for that gorgeous fiery trophy.
Other than the trophy, they’ll also be in it for the pride. We should not
forget about the worldwide recognition, either. A whole ton of it, considering
the fierce rivalry between these two regions. In fact, the total prize pool
money (which amounts to an astonishing $660,000) serves as the secondary
motivator here. All eight of these teams are in it for the pride. Well, the
pride and history books, that is!
Like we already explained above, CS:GO has a ton of top-tier tournaments.
There are so many that it would be crazy to list them all and explain them. But
in case you want more names, here are a few for your convenience – WESG series,
StarSeries & i-League, EPICENTER, Intel Extreme Masters, and ESL One, just to
name a few.
Why do CS:GO tournaments have such small prize pools?
As far as CS:GO tournaments are concerned, they value quantity over quality. With that said, you might be surprised to see prize pools with several millions of dollars for Dota 2 and LoL tournaments yet only $250-$500k for CS:GO. However, you need to note that CS:GO has such a huge number of tournaments throughout the year that the individual prize pools are smaller, but they do add up, putting CS:GO near the top of the lists of the highest-paying esports.
Why doesn’t CS:GO feature a uniform top-level competition?
Well, we’re afraid we have no concrete answer to this one. Valve’s affection for third-party event organizers (in terms of CS:GO) has already established a well-respected competitive calendar. While ESL Pro League sort of acts like a proper uniform-league format, it is not regarded as one by the fans or the esports community. As a matter of fact, we believe it’s better for CS:GO to keep this tournament schedule instead of forcing a uniform league somewhere, mostly because the players’ calendars are already overbooked.
How come bookies offer a lot of CS:GO tournaments?
The answer to this one is actually quite simple – there are just so many CS:GO tournaments that it’s hard for bookies not to include them. And we are not even joking here!
Rainbow Six Siege was released back at the end of 2015. However, its esports
presence didn’t come to notable heights until just recently. There are several
reasons behind this, the biggest ones being in-game balancing issues and faulty
Luckily for Rainbow Six, these issues were dealt with quickly, and its
esports career started to unfold. Even though it experienced a slow (read: bad) start, these days, Rainbow Six is growing in popularity. So, with all
that being laid on the table, let’s check out the biggest and most popular R6
tournaments to better understand this rapidly growing FPS title!
Most Popular Rainbow Six Tournaments
Six Invitational has cemented itself as the biggest and most notable
tournament on the Rainbow Six esports calendar. It brings forth the best teams
from all around the world and puts them against each other for a total of
$500,000 in prize pool money.
Teams have several methods of qualifying for the Six Invitational. They can
be directly invited, earn the right to compete via community vote, enter the
competition as Pro League Champions, or win their way through their regional
The Six Invitational Finals event lasts for several days. In 2018, it was
held in Montreal, Canada, at the gorgeous Ubisoft Montreal studio. It turned out
to be quite a spectacle.
In all honesty, R6 Pro League and Six Invitational can go head to head as far
as their importance is concerned. However, because they are two massively
different tournaments, Six Invitational is getting a lot more attention than R6
Pro League. How come? Well, R6 Pro League, as its name suggests, is a league
that goes on for several months and has several regional iterations. The finals
bring rich prize pools and plenty of exposure, but that’s still not enough to
combat Six Invitational, which lasts just a couple of days and features half a
million dollars in prize pool money.
Rainbow Six FAQ
How come Rainbow Six isn’t as popular as other top esports?
A part of that goes back to a rather flimsy game release. There were lots of problems with balancing out the gameplay. Furthermore, the servers weren’t that great, either. All of this resulted in a slight delay for its competitive scene. Even though it managed to recover later on, R6 could’ve been a lot bigger than it is if it wasn’t for those early flops.
What’s the biggest R6 tournament at the moment?
At the moment, the biggest Rainbow Six tournaments are R6 Pro League and Six Invitational. Even though the latter is more popular, the former lasts longer and is basically a fully-fledged league instead of a classic tournament.
Where can I bet on Rainbow Six matches?
If you’re interested in betting on R6, please check our dedicated R6 betting article.
Next up, we have Overwatch, a relatively new esports title that was released
back in May 2016. Since then, this astonishing mixture of MOBA and FPS genres
(the two most popular esports genres, mind you) made its way toward the very top
of the esports industry. While it’s still not exactly head to head with the
likes of Dota 2 and CS:GO, Overwatch is definitely heading in the right
And it’s all thanks to Blizzard, their developers and publishers, and their
biggest competitive event – Overwatch League. So, with all that in mind, let’s
check out the OWL and see how it was capable of pushing a brand new esports
title to the top of the food chain in as little as one competitive season.
Most Popular Overwatch Tournaments
We are sure many of you are well aware of the fact that Overwatch League is
the game’s strongest (by far) level of competitive play. Only the pinnacle of Overwatch talent can participate in Blizzard’s own series of events.
The stakes are high, the fans are thirsty for their teams’ success, and Blizzard
is doing quite well as far as organizing the event goes.
Blizzard has opted to make their Overwatch League work in a franchising
system with teams, format, and schedule resembling conventional sports such as
the NBA and NFL. And it seems as though they’ve done the right thing since the
Overwatch League Inaugural Season accumulated roughly 35,000,000 total views on
Twitch.tv. It’s a pretty big number for a relatively new esports title, don’t
12 franchises (teams) in the inaugural season but more to come
The highest level of Overwatch competitive play at the moment
Total prize pool money for the Inaugural Season amounted to $3,500,000
League format similar to that of NBA with preseason, regular season, postseason, and all-star events
Held at Blizzcon, the Overwatch World Cup is arguably the second-biggest
esports event of Overwatch competitive season. But mind you, we are talking
about a completely different kind of tournament here. The Overwatch World Cup is
not even remotely similar to Overwatch League… except for perhaps the fact that
they’re both based on the same game. OWC is a small tournament with not that
lucrative of a prize pool. However, there’s more to it than money since this is
a nation-based event. The best players from all around the globe put on their
country’s jerseys and battle it out for the trophy…this time not just for the
money but for their country! There’s a lot of pride at stake, which is exactly
what fuels the Overwatch World Cup!
Many would argue that APEX is basically a South Korean version of the
Overwatch League. However, that is far from the truth, and here’s why. APEX is a
series of top-shot tournaments in South Korea organized by OGN. In the past,
they even featured four western teams in so-called super weeks. However, this is
no longer the case, as APEX became a South Korean-only Overwatch league. While
South Korea is the most dominant country in Overwatch, their biggest talents
can’t be kept in their own APEX league. Instead, they are picked off by scouts
and lured off to the USA where they’ll end up competing against the finest
talent this game has to offer.
Why is Overwatch League listed as the only big OW tournament?
It’s because Overwatch League is the only big Overwatch
tournament out there. It is all thanks to Blizzard, which is holding
onto the esports aspect of their highest-earning competitive game with
an iron fist.
Are there other leagues similar to Overwatch League?
We have a very short answer for this one – nope! Overwatch
League is special in many ways (one of which is further explained right
down below), and there aren’t any other leagues that can be put in the
same basket with it. Blizzard is making sure that all esports aspects of
Overwatch are under their command, so we can’t see this changing anytime
What is franchising?
Similar to the NFL and NBA, Overwatch League teams are
franchised into the highest level of the competition. The inaugural
Overwatch League season had 12 teams – six in the Atlantic Division and
six in the Pacific Division. Season 2, on the other hand, will get
several additional franchises, which will up the number of competing
teams even further.
Where can I bet on Overwatch matches?
If you’re interested in betting on Overwatch, please check our dedicated Overwatch betting article.
Rocket League Tournaments
This is it, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen – we have come to the last
esports title in our esports tournaments hub. As the title suggests, the last
section is dedicated to Rocket League, a spectacular mixture of soccer and
racing that has captivated a pretty big audience by today’s standards. However,
RL is not as lucrative or popular as other esports titles out there. Still, it
is doing itself justice with the available funds, managing to bring slightly
higher numbers with each passing year.
Most Popular Rocket League Tournaments
Rocket League Championship Series
Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) is the biggest and most lucrative
event in the Rocket League competitive season. Just like most other big esports
events, RLCS is held twice per year – once in the summer and once in the winter
– to set the tone for all their regional qualifiers, which feature teams from
the NA and EU regions.
The main event organizer is Psyonix, Rocket League’s developer, which took
the organizational role from Twitch back in Season 5. And they are doing quite a
good job of organizing events for their own game. They have accumulated a highly
knowledgeable staff consisting of multiple commentators, analysts, reporters,
and hosts, all for their RLCS regional and finals events. Overall, the state of
the Rocket League competitive scene is looking healthy, although a nice influx
of money would bring a proper kick to its popularity.
Psyonix is the main event organizer
A whopping $925,000 growth in prize pool money since the inaugural season
In 2017, ELEAGUE (CS:GO tournament organizer) hosted their first ever Rocket
League event. With $150,000 in prize pool money and the finals held in the
gorgeous ELEAGUE Arena in Atlanta, Georgia, success was inevitable. G2 Esports
went on to win the trophy and secure a hefty $70,000 grand prize.
In 2018, ELEAGUE hosted their second Rocket League event, which featured the
same prize pool as the 2017 installment – $150,000. In addition to the
tournament itself, the TBS channel announced they will do a series of short
documentaries portraying Rocket League as well as its most accomplished players
and their respective teams.
Rocket League FAQ
What kind of future does Rocket League have in the esports industry?
From all we’ve seen so far, the popularity of Rocket League is
slowly increasing. However, that’s a trend that spreads across the
entire industry, so at least at this point in time, we can’t say for
sure what the future of Rocket League esports will look like.
Will there be more Rocket League tournaments in the near future?
As far as big tournaments go, Rocket League probably won’t see
that much action. RLCS and ELEAGUE Cup are just enough to satisfy both
the teams and their devoted fans. That’s why we don’t think there will
be any new Rocket League tournaments such as those two.
Where can I bet on Rocket League matches?
If you’re interested in betting on Rocket League, please check our dedicated Rocket League betting article.
That’s our list of the most important esports tournaments at the moment. As
time goes on, we are sure some of these games will fall out of favor. Their
tournaments’ viewership will fall down, their esports presence will diminish,
and they will no longer be viable for bookies to feature on their betting markets.
But one thing is for sure – the big trio (LoL, Dota, and CS:GO) is here
to stay for good. All three of these esports titles are already too popular and
well-established to become irrelevant anytime soon. So, if you’re a devoted fan
of any of those three games, there’s no need to worry about not having anything
good to watch or bet on. You’ll find plenty of coverage of these esports
tournaments and more at the best esports betting sites around.
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