Esports Leagues and Tournaments at Mr Green

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In spite of its humble beginnings, esports has grown into a successful industry expected to surpass the one billion dollar mark this year, according to Newzoo. It’s still only a drop in the gaming ocean, which is more than one hundred times larger, but nonetheless it’s growing at a rapid rate, attracting more and more sponsors and fans. Over 400 million esports enthusiasts from around the world are watching professional esports leagues and tournaments and many of them are active players in at least one esports title. As part of the fun, esports betting has become a common hobby among those who like to watch their favourite teams and players compete. And if you enjoy spicing up your esports tournament viewing experience, then read on, as we’ll provide you with a lot of useful information about some of the biggest esports leagues and tournaments from around the industry.

The Overwatch League

The Overwatch League (OWL) is the most important competition for Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch, which is one of the best multiplayer first-person shooters available today. Players in this game have to cooperate well and excel in a variety of ways in order to be successful, as Overwatch is very fast-paced for its genre, much like StarCraft 2 is for an RTS.

The standard format of an OWL match is 6 vs. 6 and the battle takes place over four maps with different formats and objectives. If the score is tied after those four maps are over, a fifth map will be played. The game revolves around heroes with unique abilities and is a mixture of the FPS and MOBA genres.

OWL History

The initial plans for OWL were presented by Blizzard a fairly long time ago, towards the end of 2012 and right after the boom of esports and esports betting. Thanks to the arrival of twitch.tv and a few other streaming platforms, the industry as a whole started to become more and more popular among casual gamers. So, naturally, a large gaming company like Blizzard wanted to get involved in the action, especially since they had been one of the original companies that contributed to the growth of esports, thanks to their StarCraft and StarCraft 2 titles. In many ways, Blizzard was one of the founding fathers of esports and it was time for them to claim what was rightfully theirs. However, SC 2 was slowly dying and so they needed something else to grab people’s attention.

Unlike most esports, Blizzard decided to use a model that’s closer to what’s been done in traditional sports in North America, giving investors the opportunity to acquire players and teams. Robert Kraft and Stan Kroenke, two owners of big NFL teams (New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams) liked this idea and approached Blizzard for talks. Others did a similar thing and in the end, we had the first OWL season, with 12 competitors and 3.6 million dollars on the line. Of course, the prize pool was a tiny fraction of the league’s revenues.

Overwatch got released more than three years ago, on May 25th, 2016, and became an instant success with tens of millions of players joining in. Fast forward to January 10th, 2018 and The Overwatch League began its Inaugural Season with 12 teams and great casters and analysts, some of whom had been “stolen” from other esports titles. Initially, industry experts feared that OWL would be dead on arrival, but it turned out very quickly that OWL was here to stay and the success of the league was even greater than it had been predicted.

As a result of OWL’s huge success, the second season began with 20 teams instead of 12 and a higher prize pool of five million dollars.

OWL Format

Regular season

The Overwatch League has a structure similar to that of most esports leagues and consists of two stages.

The teams come from six different countries: US, UK, China, Canada, South Korea and France. However, most of their players come from South Korea. Given the popularity of StarCraft in this country, it’s no wonder that Blizzard’s newest esports title has become such a massive success among Korea’s youth. So, naturally, that’s where the scouts are searching for new talent. In 2018, New York Excelsior and London Spitfire dominated The Overwatch League. However, other teams such as Vancouver Titans and San Francisco Shock have later managed to become even stronger, thanks to their highly talented players.

The Playoffs

Each team is scheduled to play a total of 28 matches. The goal of course is to make it to the Playoffs. Only eight out of the 20 teams will qualify for this stage. These teams will be the best Atlantic team and the best Pacific team followed the next four teams in line, regardless of division. The last two teams will be decided by asking the teams ranked 7th – 12th at the end of the regular season to play in a tournament of their own.

The format used for the Playoffs is double-elimination and the total prize pool of $3.5 million.

League of Legends Championship Series

League of Legends (LoL) is a MOBA game made by Riot Games. It was launched on October 27th, 2009, and has gained huge popularity since its release, having close to 100 million active players.

The format of a professional LoL match is 5 vs. 5 and matches are either Bo1, Bo3 or Bo5. Every player controls a champion, which is a unit with various abilities that can be selected from a pool of over one hundred such units. As a game progresses, these champions increase in power and battle each other with the goal of destroying the opponent’s Nexus, which is the most important structure on the map for each of the two teams.

LoL is updated every month or two, which changes the competitive meta and leads to the emergence of different strategies. This also has a significant impact on esports betting strategies related to the game.

League of Legends Championship Series History

The oldest esports leagues within the professional League of Legends scene are the EU LCS (which got renamed to LEC in 2019) and the NA LCS (which got renamed to LCS in 2019). Both of these are in their 7th year right now (2019) and began in 2013, without any real sponsorship deals. Since then, these leagues got franchised and this led to improved playing (or working) conditions for all of the teams and their players. League entrance now costs a lot of money.

The oldest esports leagues within the professional League of Legends scene are the EU LCS (which got renamed to LEC in 2019) and the NA LCS (which got renamed to LCS in 2019). Both of these are in their 7th year right now (2019) and began in 2013, without any real sponsorship deals. Since then, these leagues got franchised and this led to improved playing (or working) conditions for all of the teams and their players. League entrance now costs a lot of money.

2019 competitors in LCS (North America League of Legends Championship Series)

  • Team Liquid
  • Cloud9
  • Team SoloMid
  • FlyQuest
  • Golden Guardians
  • Echo Fox
  • Counter Logic Gaming
  • OpTic Gaming
  • Clutch Gaming
  • 100 Thieves

2019 competitors in LEC (League of Legends European Championship)

  • Fnatic
  • FC Schalke 04 Esports
  • Excel Esports
  • G2 Esports
  • Misfits Gaming
  • Origen
  • Rogue
  • SK Gaming
  • Splyce
  • Team Vitality

Competition Format

Both of these leagues consist of two splits (or season stages), which are called the Spring Split and the Summer Split. Each split consists of nine competitive weeks. During these weeks the teams play 18 matches (per team), which are usually Bo1. The top two teams advance to the Semifinals of the Playoffs. The following four teams advance to the Quarterfinals. 

Table: Previous winners of LEC

Spring 2013 Winners Fnatic
Summer 2013 Winners Fnatic
Spring 2014 Winners Fnatic
Summer 2014 Winners Alliance
Spring 2015 Winners Fnatic
Summer 2015 Winners Fnatic
Spring 2016 Winners G2 Esports
Summer 2016 Winners G2 Esports
Spring 2017 Winners G2 Esports
Summer 2017 Winners G2 Esports
Spring 2018 Winners Fnatic
Summer 2018 Winners Fnatic
Spring 2019 Winners G2 Esports

 

The Playoffs

As we’ve mentioned above, the best six teams advance to the Playoffs and have the chance to win the stage. The results of these Playoffs matter for the most important LoL tournaments of the year: the Mid-Season Invitational and the League of Legends World Championship. The top three teams on these events automatically qualify for Rift Rivals NA-EU, which is a tournament with the second highest prize pool in the LoL scene.

Table: Previous winners of LCS 

Spring 2013 Winners Team Solo Mid
Summer 2013 Winners Cloud9
Spring 2014 Winners Cloud9
Summer 2014 Winners Team SoloMid
Spring 2015 Winners Team SoloMid
Summer 2015 Winners Counter Logic Gaming
Spring 2016 Winners Counter Logic Gaming
Summer 2016 Winners Team SoloMid
Spring 2017 Winners Team SoloMid
Summer 2017 Winners Team SoloMid
Spring 2018 Winners Team Liquid
Summer 2018 Winners Team Liquid
Spring 2019 Winners Team Liquid

 

ESL Pro League – CS:GO at Its Best

CS:GO or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a multiplayer FPS game made by Valve Corporation, the same company that made Dota 2, Half-Life and other popular titles. The game was released in August 2012 and since then, it has become one of the most popular esports in the world, having some of the greatest esports leagues and providing spectacular esports betting opportunities.

Within CS:GO, ESL Pro League is one of the most important leagues. We’d put it somewhere around 5th or 6th in a top of the most important esports leagues and tournaments, simply because of its history and grandeur. This competition has had nine editions so far and it never lets people down. Most of the best teams in the world compete in it and the action is unmissable if you’re a CS:GO fan.

ESL Pro League is primarily an online competition held in four regions: Europe, America (North and South), Asia and Oceania. Each of these regions has either 16 or 8 participants and the very best teams qualify for the ESL Pro League Finals, which is a LAN event with a massive prize pool. The ninth edition for example will offer $750,000 in prizes.

History of ESL Pro League

After two failed attempts, Electronic Sports League (ESL) reached an agreement in 2015 with the E-Sports Entertainment Association League to organize a large scale event, later known as ESL Pro League. These two firms, based in Germany and the USA, promised to offer half a million dollars in prizes pool for the two editions of the opening season, which was a gigantic amount at that time.

One season after the other, the prizes kept increasing and this esports league has now reached a point where it is absolutely massive: four regions (48 teams in total) and $750,000 per edition. This is a massive amount for any esport and just consider the fact that ESL Pro League is only one of the many CS:GO events taking place each season.

Regular Season

The regular season of each ESL Pro League edition takes place online, in four different regions. The European region has 16 participants. The same is true for the American one. The Asian and Oceanian regions have only 8. Europe gets eight tickets for the Playoffs, the American region gets six, while the other two regions get only one.

The Playoffs

The Playoffs Stage of ESL Pro League consists of a LAN event attended by 16 teams. The competition usually takes place over a single week and and the competitive format is two groups of eight played in a GSL structure followed by Playoffs. The winner of each group advances to the Semifinals. The 2nd and 3rd best teams advance to the Quarterfinals.

Table: Previous winners of ESL Pro League

 

Season 1 Fnatic
Season 2 Fnatic
Season 3 Luminosity Gaming
Season 4 Cloud9
Season 5 G2 eSports
Season 6 SK Gaming
Season 7 Astralis
Season 8 Astralis

 

The International – Dota 2’s World Championship

On the list of epic esports leagues and tournaments, The International ranks high. Some would say that it’s the best tournament in all of esports, given the massive prize pool it has and the spectacle it provides. This tournament is practically the Dota 2 World Championship.

Dota 2 is a MOBA game developed by Valve Corporation. In many ways it’s very similar to League of Legends but has its own flavour and is considerably more complex, adding a number of elements and mechanics that increase the tension between the two teams, right from the start of the game. Like LoL, Dota 2 played in a 5 vs. 5 format and the goal is to destroy your opponent’s Ancient, or the equivalent of the King in a game like chess. Hence the name of its prequel, Defense of the Ancients (or DotA).

At the moment, over 10 million people from all around the world play the game and their continued support and enthusiasm for it provides Valve with the opportunity to organise each year one of the best tournaments in all of esports. And that’s partly because of their prize pool system. Months before The International begins, Valve offers players the chance to purchase what’s called The International Battle Pass. This provides them with a lot of features that enhance a player’s in-game experience without having anything to do with the pay-to-win model. And 25% of the money that goes into the Battle Pass is added to the prize pool of The International. In 2018, this prize pool reached 25 million dollars.

History of The International

The International is at its 9th edition this year and its popularity has grown tremendously over the years. From a 1.6 million prize pool in 2011 to the massive amounts we’re talking about today, the figures alone tell the story of this epic event.

Competition format

Starting with 2017-2018, Valve has introduced the Dota Pro Circuit in order to determine who the best teams are in a transparent way. Tournaments that are included in this circuit now give qualification points. So at the end of the regular season, when it’s finally time to decide who should be directly invited to TI and who should go through qualifiers, there’s an objective system in place to take care of that.

Initially, dozens of tournaments were part of the Dota Pro Circuit. However, after a first year filled to the brim with events, Valve decided to reduce the number down to just five Minors and five Majors. The Minors offer just 500 points and $300,000 in prizes while the Majors offer 15,000 points and one million dollars in prizes.

The Playoffs

The Playoffs within the Dota Pro Circuit is none other than The International. This event usually takes place in two stages: Group Stage and Playoffs. At the end of the Group Stage, eight teams advance to the Upper Bracket, another eight to the Lower Bracket, and two competitors are eliminated. The competition starts with 18 participants divided into two groups of nine. The Playoffs Stage is played in a GSL format.

Table: Previous winners of The International

 

2011 Natus Vincere
2012 Invictus Gaming
2013 Alliance
2014 Newbee
2015 Evil Geniuses
2016 Wings Gaming
2017 Team Liquid
2018 OG

League of Legends World Championship

The League of Legends World Championship (or Worlds) is the most important event in LoL and possibly the number one or two event on any list of top esports leagues and tournaments. Unlike other world championships, it takes place over a fairly long period of time. Instead of one or two weeks, it takes around seven weeks to complete. And the prize pool is substantial. In 2018, it reached almost 6.5 million dollars.

History of Worlds

The League of Legends World Championship began modestly, in 2011, with less than $100,000 in prizes, eight participants and three competitive days. Over the years, the competition grew relative to the game’s player base, which is now estimated at around 100 million. Subsequently, now there are 24 teams at Worlds every year and a lot more action to bet on.

Regular Season

The regular season consists of the regional championships that take place in splits each year. There are two of them per season in every region, including North America, Europe, South Korea, China and so on. Based on the results obtained in each region and those registered at other events such as the Mid-Season Invitational, 24 teams are invited to what you might call the Playoffs of the season, or the LoL Worlds.

The Playoffs

The Playoffs of the LoL season or the League of Legends World Championship consists of 24 teams and three stages. First, there’s the Play-In Stage. During this stage, 12 teams compete for only four tickets to the Main Event. These four teams join another twelve competitors and get divided into four groups of four. The best two teams from each group advance to the Playoffs of Worlds. This final stage takes place in a single-elimination bracket and consists of Quarterfinals, Semifinals and a Grand Final. Every match is Bo5.

Table: Previous winners of League of Legends World Championship

 

2011 Fnatic
2012 Taipei Assassins
2013 SK Telecom T1
2014 Samsung White
2015 SK Telecom T1
2016 SK Telecom T1
2017 Samsung Galaxy
2018 Invictus Gaming

CS:GO Major – The Unofficial CS:GO World Championship

CS:GO Majors are prime examples of highly important competitions on any list of top esports leagues and tournaments. These events offer one million dollars in prizes and take place over a period of three weeks. A total of 24 teams are involved in them, making such events absolutely epic from all standpoints. Each year, only two Majors take place. One at the start of the season, around February, and one towards the end, during the month of September.

History of CS:GO Majors

CS:GO Majors have a relatively short history, going back just three years. The first one was called MLG Major Championship: Columbus 2016. Its success, both commercially and otherwise, represented a stepping stone in the history of the game. Big companies immediately took notice and realised that with such a large audience at stake, they were going to have to get involved.

Competition Format

Regular Season

When it comes to Majors, the system is pretty unusual. Fourteen out of the 24 participants get directly invited based on their performance at the previous Major. The top eight teams also get a special status, just like in LoL’s Worlds, and only enter the competition starting with its second stage. The remaining 10 teams need to go through qualifiers.

The Playoffs

The Playoffs or what we might call the Major itself consists of three stages: The New Challengers Stage, The New Legends Stage and The New Champions Stage. The first two of these stages have 16 participants and are played in the Swiss System. Only eight of them survive and move on. In the end, the final stage has eight competitors and consists of four Quarterfinals, two Semifinals and one Grand Final. At this point, every match is Bo3.

Table: Previous winners of CS:GO Majors

 

MLG Major Championship: Columbus 2016 Luminosity Gaming
ESL One: Cologne 2016 SK Gaming
ELEAGUE Major: Atlanta 2017 Astralis
PGL Major Krakow 2017 Gambit Esports
ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018 Cloud9
FACEIT Major: London 2018  Astralis
Intel Extreme Masters XIII Katowice Major 2019 Astralis