Reading Time: 11 minutes read
Early in 2020, the world has faced an unexpected threat, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted our lives and suspended most of the events we were used to. The world’s professional sports leagues were temporarily suspended due to the quarantine imposed around the world and the void it has left has been filled by eSports, the form of competition using video games accelerating the growth in popularity of this type of virtual competition.
The average number of viewers on Twitch, a live video broadcasting service, rose from 1.4 million in February (before the declaration of quarantine in most countries) to 2.4 million at the beginning of May, which is an increase of more than one million viewers, or 41%.
The online capability of eSports is one of the features that has kept them performing and growing, especially in the absence of real sports, and has seen record audiences in all major leagues and tournaments. Although most of the live events in these major competitions were also cancelled due to the pandemic, they actually became online competitions, which has kept their continuity and growth running.
Although the pandemic has accelerated the growth of eSports, the most important fact is that what was considered a marginal activity a few years ago, has become professional in a short time with the support of governments and video game developers, thus attracting more public and more players, and building a market that will probably exceed $1.1 billion in 2020.
Here is a list of the most important eSports events around the world.
1. Fortnite World Cup
Fortnite is one of the most popular games in the world, and its world championship games offer a huge amount of money to their winners. The winners of the 2019 tournament won over $30 million in prize money.
The Fortnite World Cup is the largest eSports event in the world. More than one million people watched the championship live on twitch.tv, and more than 10,000 people from across the country attended the event in New York.
The new version of the game was expected to see its first championship in 2020, and Epic Games were expected to give a bigger prize this time. However, due to limitations from the Coronavirus quarantine, Epic Games decided to call off the event entirely and the competition was canceled. It is expected to be an in-person Fortnite World Cup 2021 but depending on the pandemic situation in the world, Epic Games will decide if they hold a digital Fortnite World Cup for the coming year.
Although a Dota 2 tournament planned for 2020 could surpass it, the 2019 Fortnite championship awarded more prizes than any other gaming event so far.
2. The International (Dota 2)
Besides the Fortnite World Championship, this is the most lucrative of all professional gaming events. In 2019, more than $25 million in prizes were awarded to the winners. The Valve Corporation organizes an annual Dota 2 tournament, with the last competition in Shanghai. The finals will be held at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Those who watch the tournament online rather than in person can log in with their game client to see the action, allowing them to move a camera and watch any part of the game they choose in real time. Players who watch the event can make predictions about how the game will go, with in-game rewards for accurate predictions. The prize pool in 2020 may exceed that of the 2019 Fortnite World Championship, with a prize pool forecast of $34 million.
Like the Fornite World Cup, the tournament was canceled for 2020 because of the pandemic, but organizers keep on working on holding it in 2021.
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR ESPORT PREDICTIONS
3. League of Legends World Championship
In 2020, Riot Games will host the next League of Legends World Championship in China. League of Legends is one of the most watched games in the world, with many of the best players making a lot of money simply by broadcasting their games. Prizes tend to exceed $2 million.
The 2020 League of Legends World Championship will involve 24 different teams from 14 different countries. Qualification for the League of Legends World Championship is initially online and begins long before the tournament. League of Legends has aged well and continues to have a large player base after all these years.
Because of the pandemic, China declared that it would cancel all of its sporting events, but did not talk about eSports. At present, it is still unknown whether the championship will take place or not, although experts say everything points we will have Worlds this year, still with no definite date and with Shanghai as the only venue. The only thing missing is official confirmation from Riot Games.
As of this writing, Riot Games is still working on trying to celebrate the championship and is considering using a bubble system similar to the one the NBA will use.
4. BlizzCon 2020
It’s probably the world’s best known gaming convention. In addition to previews for new games and live concerts, it offers the opportunity to see the Blizzard game championships live. Blizzard has organized BlizzCon almost every year since 2005, always later in the year. The event attendance has gradually increased from 8,000 in 2005 to 40,000 in 2019.
BlizzCon includes the Overwatch World Cup, the Starcraft II championships and the World of Warcraft sand tournament. While Starcraft II tournaments take place around the world, the real champions compete against each other every year.
The winner of the BlizzCon tournament determines who is considered the best Starcraft II player in the world and the competition is also successful enough to offer great tournament prizes and attract large crowds.
Blizzard Entertainment will not host its annual BlizzCon event in 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The event is usually held later in the year, but Blizzard announced that it was uncertain about hosting BlizzCon this year. Despite canceling the convention, Blizzard may be looking to hold a virtual event in its place.
5. Overwatch World Cup
In addition to the Overwatch tournaments held annually at BlizzCon, there is also a World Overwatch Championship organized by Blizzard. The Overwatch League is the largest Overwatch tournament in the world, with 20 teams competing, each representing different cities. The total prize money is $5 million, more lucrative than most other eSports events.
The tournament will involve many different live events in 19 different cities. New York, Shanghai and Paris will host professional live monitoring matches. All Overwatch players will be able to participate in a play-in tournament with the possibility of reaching the live events if they win enough games. The big finals of 2020 will be held in Philadelphia at the end of the year.
6. International eSports Federation World Championships
The IESF 12th Esports World Championship will be held in Eilat – Israel from 15 to 20 November 2020. The championship will feature Tekken 7, eFootball PES series and DotA 2 as official titles, but more competitions may be added.
The IESF (International eSports Federation) announced some expansions to the Esports World Championship format for 2020. Beginning in July and running through September, IESF National Members will host their national team selection process, to determine the identity of the players representing them in the IESF World Championship.
In October running through November, IESF and the World Championship Local Organizing Committee (LOC) will host a regional competition online to narrow the international field to a select group of each region’s best. The world’s best players will compete on a live stage to determine the 2020 World Champions.
7. Call Of Duty League (COD)
For many years Call of Duty fans have played in several COD leagues which were not officially recognized. But in 2020, Activision-Blizzard established and organized the Call of Duty League which operates just like the Overwatch League model. Is the premier professional esports league for Call of Duty and it is composed of 12 professional teams, representing 11 markets across North America and Europe.
The league is a global, city-based esports league and is using the playoffs format. The COD Championship began in January 2020 in Minneapolis, but due to the pandemic, in March were cancelled all the pending events. Later on it was announced that all pending events will be celebrated online and the matches will be broadcasted live to the fans.
At the time we write this article, the championship is still being celebrated. The Championship will award an overall prize payout of $4.6 million.
8. EVO (Evolution) Championship Series
The most prestigious of all fighting game championships, the Evolution Championship Series, determines the best players in Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Tekken 7 and the newest games in Super Smash Bros, Mortal Kombat and Soul Calibur .
Part of the excitement of the Evo Championship is the ability for attendees to play fighting games against the best players in the world. It’s not likely that an attendee will win, but it could be an exciting experience to learn about the skill levels of the best players, much better than simply watching them.
Many people who only knew each other online are meeting in person at the Evo Championship Series for the first time.
Evo 2020 was previously planned for July-August in Nevada but finally was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, the fighting game event will still happen online.
9. FIFA eWorld Cup
The FIFA eWorld Cup is the largest gaming tournament in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records for the millions of players involved and in its early stages at the lowest levels played online, anyone can compete.
After a gradual elimination of millions of players, the remaining players compete in a live qualifying tournament. With modern technology, even if they work with two different mobile phones, players can compete with each other. The prizes given out in the 2019 competition were $500,000.
Due to the pandemic world situation, the competition for 2020 has been cancelled leading up to a new Summer Cup Series that will be completely online. The prizes awarded will be a total of $700.000.
10. Capcom Cup
The Capcom Pro Tour (CPT) is the Premier League destination for competitive fighting games. Featuring the latest flagship game in the legendary Street Fighter series, CPT attracts players from around the world to share their love of video games. With 18 online events open to players from around the world, CPT is a showcase for the best that competitive gaming has to offer.
Due to the pandemic, Capcom also decided to cancel premieres, qualification events and all remaining World Warrior events offline (live) for the 2020 season. To accommodate the new schedule, Capcom Cup 2020 will move from Paris to the USA and will now take place in the first quarter of 2021.
Capcom will present 18 regional online tournaments, beginning with a tournament in the USA´s Eastern Region on 6 June. The winners of each of the 18 online tournaments will automatically qualify for Capcom Cup 2020. Twenty players will compete to become the 2020 Capcom Cup champion.
11. Rocket League Championship
The video game developer Psyonix, noticed that many people watched Rocket League games on twitch.tv, so they thought they should create an eSports tournament for their game. To qualify for the championship, a player must win a regional competition against other players from Oceania, North America, South America or Europe. Only the world finals are played in front of a live audience, as regional games are played online.
The prizes for winning the Rocket League championship are not as big as the prizes for being the best in the world at Fortnite. However, the awards have increased over the years, from only $55,000 in 2013 to $1,000,000 in 2019.
But the Season 9 Rocket championship in 2020 was also cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to figures from Newzoo, an analysis provider for games and esports, the global audience for eSports was 443 million people in 2019 and is expected to grow to 495 million in 2020, which means an increase of 11.7%.