The world of eSports is constantly changing. New games are being released. Game companies are expanding their reach, and developers are always looking for new ways to engage their players and involve them in competitive and rewarding gaming, particularly through eSports leagues.
Yet not every video game has the capacity for a full-fledged competitive eSports league. However, some games are designed and receive updates conducive to organized leagues that can have large prize pools thus inciting higher-level play and more attention from the gaming community.
Thanks to these improvements, competing for millions of dollars at your favorite video game is a reality. Let’s take a look at the world’s largest eSports leagues and how they operate.
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League of Legends: LCS (League of Legends Championship Series) & World Championship
The League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) is the highest level of professional play in the League of Legends eSports scene. The LCS is set up similar to a sports league where 10 franchise teams compete against each other. The top eight teams then proceed to a double-elimination phase of the tournament. The first three teams qualify for the World Championship.
So what makes League of Legends different from other games? Well, this isn’t a single-player game like Call of Duty or Halo. It’s a competitive multiplayer game where players compete against each other in teams or solo matches.
Another critical aspect of League of Legends is its free-to-play model — there are no paid subscriptions or downloadable content packs that you need to buy before starting. All you need is an internet connection and some time to practice!
What’s in store for the league’s future?
The League of Legends Championship Series and World Championship are still the dominant forces in eSports. However, Riot Games’ John Needham predicts a future where LCS teams compete in a global league with other companies’ teams. He believes outside companies will buy up LCS teams and build their leagues.
“It’s not just Riot that’s doing this,” said Needham, who oversees Riot Games’ competitive gaming efforts. “There are other companies coming in.” He also believes that these new leagues may be based around different games or genres than what we see today.
Counterstrike: Global Offensive ESL Pro League & Valve Majors
CS: GO is considered one of the most popular eSports games today. This is because the game has a large community of players who play the game regularly, with more than 30 million active players across various platforms every month.
The popularity of this game can be attributed to its gameplay mechanics and graphics, which appeal to players who enjoy first-person shooter (FPS) games. The game is played on a map in which two teams compete against each other by eliminating enemies and completing objectives while trying to outsmart each other with tactics and strategies.
The ESL Pro League is set up in a league style where teams compete for seeding in a final tournament with a prize pool of $835,000.
Valve-sponsored Majors are the highest level of organized Counterstrike and can be sponsored by many organizations, including ESL. Prize pools for these tournaments are greater than $1 million, with two tournaments per year.
What’s next for Counterstrike?
From 2021 to 2022, CS: GO will continue to be one of the most popular eSports games in the world. It’s an eSport with a long history and a large audience that has continued to grow in popularity as more people watch it on Twitch and YouTube.
Dota 2: The International
Dota 2 has a loyal fanbase because it’s exciting and easy to learn but challenging to master; you can start playing immediately and learn as you go along. The game is also full of opportunities for social interaction: millions of players are willing to teach newbies how to play and give them tips on how to improve their skills.
The Dota eSports competition is organized by Valve and features prizes worth over $40 million. Besides the pool of prizes, the popularity of Dota 2 can be attributed to its unique gameplay, which requires teamwork and strategic thinking from players instead of relying on individual skills alone. In addition, Dota 2 is free to play, which means anyone can play it without worrying about registration fees.
Apex Legends Competitive Gaming: ALGS
The Apex Legends tournament format is simple: It’s a battle royale where teams compete against each other until one player is left standing, making it a highly extensive qualification process. The ALGS has become so popular because it allows teams worldwide to participate in an event with a big prize of $500,000 at stake for first place.
The ALGS is one of the most popular eSports events because it’s not just about winning but about teamwork and strategy. You can’t just toss yourself into fights; you’ve got to think strategically and use your team’s strengths effectively if you want to win.
In a recent interview with Polygon, Respawn Entertainment’s Vince Zampella said that the studio has plans to support Apex Legends competitive gaming in the future and will work with Electronic Sports League (ESL) to make that happen. The announcement came during the game’s third-anniversary celebration, which kicked off on February 4, 2022.
Rainbow Six Siege: Six Invitational
The Six Invitational is a premier Rainbow Six Siege event that occurs annually. The first invitational took place in Paris and has been held there ever since. The event consists of several tournaments hosted by Ubisoft and its partners. All tournaments are open to the public (with minor restrictions) and can be watched on Twitch or YouTube.
The league consists of 20 teams, and is a best of three, single-elimination tournament for the first-place prize of $3 million.
What does the future look like?
Ubisoft has been teasing a sequel to Rainbow Six Siege for some time now, with the publisher first announcing that it had plans to make the second game in the series. However, it looks like those plans have been scrapped, and Ubisoft has now confirmed that there are no plans for Siege 2.
At the E3 2019 event, Ubisoft’s CEO, Yves Guillemot, told GamesIndustry, “we’re not working on Rainbow Six two at all.”
“We’re focusing on Siege and continuing to support it,” he added. “It’s still growing, so we think we have more opportunity there.”
The Overwatch League is a 20-team global league that features regular-season play, leading to seeding for the tournament finale. The competition features four midseason and postseason tournaments with prize pools of at least $1 million. The league is divided into four divisions: Pacific, Atlantic, North American, and European.
What makes the Overwatch League so popular?
The first reason is Overwatch’s growth over time. Between 2017 and 2018, the league’s viewership grew by over 50%. This means more people than ever are tuning in to watch this fantastic game and its talented players compete against each other.
But what makes the league even more appealing are the following factors:
- It’s easy to follow: Unlike many other eSports competitions, where there are often multiple games, each with its own rules and regulations, everything about the Overwatch League feels streamlined and straightforward.
- It’s a great way to get people into eSports: The Overwatch League is a great way to attract people who aren’t familiar with eSports. It’s an accessible introduction to the world of competitive gaming.
- It’s fun! Okay, maybe we’re biased—but we think the games are fun! And we hope you do, too!
According to the Sports Business Journal, the future of the Overwatch League is more than just jerseys and merch. While these things are great, they don’t generate that much revenue. The heart of the Overwatch League will be how it can leverage its brand power to make money from other sectors, like video games and gaming accessories.
As one example, Spector says that he expects to see eSports teams signing sponsorship deals with gaming hardware companies like Razer or Logitech. He also expects them to sign deals with game publishers like Blizzard and Electronic Arts for exclusive content rights.
Today, more than ever, gamers have access to global eSports leagues with sizeable prize pools. It’s evident the trend is poised to continue, and as the eSports landscape grows and becomes more mainstream, there is no telling how far it can go. Keep an eye out for more posts about each game and the surrounding leagues in the upcoming weeks.
What do you think about the world’s largest eSports leagues? Are you excited about the strides made in eSports leagues? Is there any league you follow or want to participate in? Share your questions, comments, or feedback about the various eSports leagues in the comments, and we’ll keep you in the loop.