Esports Tournaments Guide: Schedule, Insights and More
At the heart of the esports industry is a massive and diverse collection of esports tournaments. They’re the beating heart of the esports market, serving as the foundation for professional gaming and esports betting. Once upon a time, esports tournaments were small, locally hosted events – today, a single tournament can be worth tens of millions of dollars.
In the last ten years, esports has risen to become a hugely popular and valuable industry. There are more tournaments now than ever before, covering a vast assortment of titles from Rocket League to CSGO and from Call of Duty to League of Legends. There are several advantages to the esports industry over the traditional sports industry that make it a constantly disruptive and developing vertical. For instance, esports as an industry is inherently decentralised, meaning there isn’t one overarching, governing body making all the rules.
Secondly, the esports industry is incredibly accessible, being as it is a mostly digital landscape. In theory, any gamer can get started on the path to esports greatness with nothing more than the ability to play video games. And, these days, multi-million dollar tournaments can be played online from anywhere around the world. It was this aspect that empowered esports to grow immeasurably throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As more gamers were locked down at home, esports experienced massive growth.
How exactly did modest, humble esports events become full-fledged, multi-million-dollar tournaments? It’s a question of time and technological advancements. At its core, the concept of an esports tournament has existed for decades, even if it was once a ridiculed concept that carried with it a considerable stigma. As gaming technology has advanced and become more widely adopted, more and more gamers are trying to find ways to constantly improve and ultimately earn money for playing games.
As we move into 2022, we’ll see another historic year in esports history, punctuated by massive tournaments for the hottest competitive titles. What follows is our comprehensive guide to the history of the world’s greatest esports tournaments and the most important esports events coming in 2022.
If you’re a more modernised gamer, you’d likely scoff at some of the earliest gaming competitions. Today, online gaming tournaments are the norm, with the biggest events taking place in a LAN environment, which in itself as a practice stretches back more than four decades. In 1980, the Space Invaders Championship took place, with competitors lining up to play the title on the Atari 2600 console, one of the world’s first home gaming platforms.
However, there was absolutely no multiplayer present on Space Invaders, which is still an iconic and legendary title today. Instead, players queued and took turns to try and set the highest score. At the end of the tournament, the winner walked away with a Space Invaders arcade machine – the world’s first esports prize.
In the 1990s, gaming experienced an enormous boom, with home consoles beginning to dominate the market in huge numbers. The SNES, Sony PlayStation, and N64 all launched in the 1990s, and they’re considered to be some of the greatest gaming advancements in the history of the industry. It was also in the 1990s that modern esports began shaping up, particularly around the late 90s. In 1997, the world’s first major competitive gaming event was hosted, with players competing on Quake, a then-popular FPS title.
Bizarrely, the grand prize for this event was an all-new Ferrari 328 GTS Cabriolet and not a cash prize. Today, almost every one of the many esports tournaments hosted boasts a cash prize. It was at this event that some of the esports tropes we see today were founded, such as the bracket format and some of the in-event culture.
The incredible rise of the esports industry can be attributed to a few specific titles. One game, in particular, was StarCraft: Brood War, which was massively influential in the earlier days of modern esports. Today, StarCraft 2 makes up a small portion of the industry, but once upon a time, it was a world leader. In South Korea, gamers flocked to the title, and within no time at all, lucrative and popular esports tournaments were being held for StarCraft: Brood War.
In fact, StarCraft tournaments were some of the first to offer six-figure cash prizes.
StarCraft’s premise, concept, and growth proved to many gamers that esports could be both a form of entertainment and a legitimate career. Most of the top esports titles out there today boast incredible legacies, some of which can be traced back more than two decades. Before, gaming competitions were minor events, but now, they’re just as big as traditional sporting events.
The Best Esports Tournaments to Watch in 2022
There’s nothing more exciting than a high-octane LAN competition. Unfortunately, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, LAN events were effectively closed down for quite a long time, with tournaments being played online instead. However, despite the lack of in-person events, the esports industry continued to grow, expanding in terms of both viewership and bettor participation. As traditional sports competitions wavered under the weight of the pandemic, all-online, all-digital esports events grew outwards and upwards.
As we move into 2022, more and more tournaments are returning to a LAN setting, much to the delight of esports fans. While esports betting is almost entirely online, it doesn’t matter whether the tournament is played in-person or over the internet. In fact, online gaming competitions have proven themselves to be just as popular as in-person events, especially considering the lack of LAN access in recent years.
This year, the ‘Big Three’ all have stacked and dense schedules. These titles, consisting of CSGO, Dota 2, and League of Legends, make up the beating heart of the esports industry. While other titles have their events, the sheer value and participation surrounding the Big Three are absolutely unbeatable. These titles boast the largest prize pools in esports and some of the hottest and most exhilarating competitions.
There are millions of competitors out there today, but only a handful will ever experience true esports greatness. But, unlike sports that require physical dominance, esports can theoretically be taken up by anybody that has the ability to play a game. This has given rise to competitors coming into the industry from every corner of the planet.
Below is a breakdown of the biggest esports tournaments for each of the Big Three. We’ve also covered some smaller titles, as honestly, there’s just as much to play for – and bet on – with these lesser-known events.
League of Legends Worlds 2022
The League of Legends Worlds tournament stretches back several years. It’s one of the most popular and significant esports tournaments on the calendar, and every year, millions of fans tune in to the action. It’s a global event, and it boasts a prize pool of more than $6 million. It’s also one of the longest world championship events in esports, lasting more than a month. There are few esports tournaments as impactful as this event, and it’s easily the best of all the LoL tournaments that take place within any given year.
Dota 2 Pro Circuit
In 2020, Dota 2’s professional league saw a grand return, being broken up into two divisions across six global regions. There are ample opportunities for players to earn money through Dota 2 esports, and the betting markets for this title are always hotter than anything else around. For the Major Dota 2 tournaments, the competition tends to take place in a LAN environment, with thousands of fans in attendance.
However, the pinnacle of Dota 2 esports tournaments must be The International, a competition that has run for more than ten years. In 2021, this event boasted a $40 million prize pool – the biggest in the history of esports. It’s highly unlikely that this prize pool will be beaten any time soon, and it stands as a firm representation of the overall value of the esports industry. As the tournaments grow, so too do the opportunities for some profitable Dota 2 bets.
CS:GO Major Championships
There’s a busy schedule planned for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive in 2022. The top CSGO tournaments are some of the most highly anticipated events around, and the best esports betting sites out there simply love them. They’re special events, boasting multi-million-dollar prize pools hosted in LAN environments of the highest quality. Like other esports titles, CSGO is a global platform, and competitors from all around the world will surface in 2022 and attempt to win big.
VALORANT Champions Tour 2022
VALORANT is one of the newest esports titles to surface, and the VALORANT Champions Tour is about to enter its second season. In 2022, competitors will come forward to win huge cash prizes and help to grow the entire VALORANT platform. While Valorant betting is a less common practice on esports betting sites, there are still markets to be found for this CSGO-styled title. As a game, VALORANT is relatively young, but it has already shown fantastic promise for the esports industry. As 2022 rolls through, so too will a great schedule for VALORANT.
How Did the Global Pandemic affect Esports Tournaments?
As the COVID-19 global pandemic suffocated the world, several industries saw intense closures and restrictions. For instance, hospitality, travel, education, and healthcare all underwent huge struggles and dilemmas while dealing with the sudden and explosive pandemic. As an industry, esports was certainly impacted, but thanks to the digital accessibility of the industry, something of a reformation took place.
Within a few weeks, many esports tournaments were re-designed with an all-online format. As these gaming competitions became more popular throughout the pandemic, betting sites began to hybridize, adding esports markets to their offerings.
For several months, online tournaments became the norm, with some organisers allowing teams to play in central locations away from LAN environments. For instance, the 2021 Call of Duty League was held online for the most part, and teams played from several locations dotted around the country, connecting with their opponents online.
There are many points to argue both the strengths and weaknesses of an online gaming tournament. However, one thing that cannot be doubted is the fact that online tournaments are almost free to run. If the tournament itself is high value, then broadcasting teams, support staff, commentators, and the players will all need to be taken into consideration. Although, the cost of these things is nothing compared to fully kitting out and servicing an entire arena of fans.
But that’s another perspective from which the pandemic has impacted esport as an industry. While online tournaments may be cheaper to run, they don’t generate as much income for the organisers and the competitors. Furthermore, connectivity issues present huge problems for the average esports tournament. In a competitive environment, a slightly high ping or a little lag can be the difference between a win and a loss.
What Comes Next for Esports
In 2022, esports tournaments will, for the most part, return to LAN settings. Once again, this means that fans can get stuck into the action while sitting mere feet away from the competitors they all know and love. There’s a huge buzz surrounding the general esports calendar for 2022, and several hugely valuable tournaments are due to take place over the next 12 months. While the last two years have been something of an experiment, 2022 will return to a more familiar environment.
Ultimately, esports is a serious topic, and with each passing day, it becomes just as popular as traditional, mainstream sports. With a huge catalog of titles to choose from and massive financial backing behind the industry, esports will continue to grow in 2022 at a rapid rate. As time goes on, esports betting and participation will also see immeasurable growth. It’s a valuable industry and there are millions of people trying to get involved.
We’ve also seen sharp rises in the number of content creators and streamers in recent years. With the COVID-19 pandemic taking over, more gamers took to the internet to express their passion from behind a camera. This practice goes hand in hand with esports gaming, and as one, the entire landscape becomes increasingly popular and adopted by more and more non-gamers.
Whether you’re waiting for offline events to return in full or ready to jump into your first esports bet, look to Betway, Pinnacle, and GG.bet for the best betting experiences.