As we reach my final post of the year on EsportsBets.com, I think it’s a good time to look at how 2017 unfurled across the esports industry. It has certainly been the biggest-ever year for esports, packed with drama, incident, and controversy along the way.
Ask 10 different esports fans what the highlight of the year was and you’ll likely get 10 different answers. So I’ve outlined some memorable, remarkable, and noteworthy incidents and achievements from 2017.
South Korea still dominates League of Legends
After China’s victory over South Korea’s finest in the Rift Rivals event a few weeks prior to the 2017 World Championships, opinions flew about over whether the Chinese teams could possibly end Korea’s League of Legends dominance.
For a good part of Worlds, that looked like a possibility. Royal Never Give Up and Team World Elite both performed very well, reaching the semifinals. However, when it got down to the crunch, South Korea ascended.
Samsung Galaxy took home a $1.6m+ top prize and their second Worlds title, beating out three-time champions SK Telecom T1 in the final.
Ultimately, Korean teams are still the dominant force in LoL, but Chinese teams are closing the gap. These two nations are still well ahead of teams from North America, Europe, other parts of Asia, and elsewhere.
Speaking of which, it was good to see Fenerbahce gain exposure at Worlds. The Turkish side, affiliated with the football team of the same name, came through the Play-In to enter the group stage. While they lost all six games, the experience of taking on the top-level teams will certainly do them no harm at all.
The International’s biggest prize pool in history
The International 2017 marked the seventh running of this massive event. Once again, it set records for the largest-ever esports prize pool: around $24.7 million. Additionally, it highlighted the massive popularity of esports, both with paying customers at the venue and the millions watching online.
Seattle’s KeyArena hosted the 11-day event, and after a lengthy qualifying process, 18 of the finest Dota 2 teams in the world lined up for riches and glory.
In the end, Team Liquid took home the incredible first prize of $10,862,683 with a stunning win over Newbee in the final. Plus, the Dutch team’s journey took them improbably through the Losers Bracket.
That win stands as the high point in a superb year for Team Liquid’s Dota 2 team. They also won seven other events across the season, including two Premier level events in the StarLadder i-League Invitational and EPICENTER 2017.
Team Liquid, Team Secret, Virtus.pro, and Newbee utterly dominated the world of Dota 2 in 2017. It will be interesting to see if anybody can make a realistic challenge to their supremacy in 2018.
FaZe Clan’s incredibly timely roster moves
In the CS:GO world, SK Gaming dominated the early season. They took home four major titles in the space of three months: Intel Extreme Masters XII – Sydney, the ESL Pro League Season 5- North America, Esports Championship Season 3 Finals, and the ESL One: Cologne.
Astralis also picked up a couple of nice wins, especially at the $1 million ELEAGUE Major in Atlanta in January.
The once mighty FaZe Clan had just one win to their name by summertime. The PGL Major Krakow in July shifted everything. FaZe Clan finished an awful 15th/16th place, catalyzing change to come.
FaZe Clan then released a number of players, bringing in some of the world’s best CS:GO talent at great expense. It was a bold move that easily could have backfired.
However, the new squad gelled superbly. They picked up first place in the ESL One: New York just a few weeks after getting together in September. Then, in October, they took home the lion’s share of $1 million at the ELEAGUE Premier 2017 in Atlanta. Two second places at the ESL Pro League Season 6 Finals and the Intel Extreme Masters XII – Oakland followed. Then, they ended the year on a high. Just this month, FaZe Clan conquered the Esports Championship Series Season 4 Finals in Mexico.
Those performances alone mean the team has banked over $1 million in the latter half of the year, completely justifying their roster moves. With the ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018 in a matter of weeks, they will get a chance to reestablish their dominance very soon.