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The biggest esports tournaments and leagues in 2019 and beyond
All around the world, esports are on the rise and they don’t look to be slowing down any time soon. Whether you want to tune in for a few hours of action-packed esports tournament gameplay between the top pros or follow your favorite team week after week in an esports league, we’ve put together a list for you.
Note that only standalone tournaments, not playoffs that take place at the end of a season, are included in the list of esports tournaments. Keep reading for the top esports tournaments and top esports leagues in 2019 and beyond!
Top esports tournaments
- The International
- Intel Extreme Masters
- CS:GO Majors
- Overwatch World Cup
- Fortnite World Cup Finals
- Evolution Championship series
Top esports leagues
- Overwatch League
- League of Legends Championship Series
- Call of Duty World League
- Rocket League Championship Series
- PUBG Global Championship
Top esports tournaments
Date: August 15-20, 2019
The International is the premier Dota 2 tournament that attracts teams from around the world. After the third year of the tournament in 2013 and beyond, Valve has sweetened the pot by adding 25% of the total sales of the in-game Battle Pass to the prize pool. This instantly made it one of the best paid esports tournaments in the world, with the 2018 edition reaching more than $25 million in total prize money.
The International 2019 is set to take place from August 15-20 in Shanghai’s Mercedes-Benz Arena. Teams will vie for one of the 18 spots available by competing in a series of smaller tournaments known as the Dota Pro Circuit. With a total prize pool of over $33 million, it’s no wonder that this is one of the world’s biggest and most popular esports tournaments.
Intel Extreme Masters
Date: February 13 – March 2, 2019
Intel Extreme Masters is one of the longest running series of esports tournaments around. It features a number of tournaments in different locations around the world, capped off with a World Championship. This final tournament typically takes place in Katowice, with separate prize pools and brackets for each game.
The most recent Intel Extreme Masters took place in from February 13 – March 2. It included CS:GO (the 14th Major tournament), Dota 2, Starcraft II, and for the first time ever, Fortnite: Battle Royale. Smaller IEM tournaments will still be held throughout the year, with an additional $1 million prize for the first team to win four eligible tournaments in a single year.
CS:GO Major Tournaments
Date: August 20 -September 8, 2019
Counter Strike: Global Offensive Major Tournaments, known simply as Majors, are biannual esports tournaments sponsored by the game’s developer, Valve Corporation. They’re widely considered the most prestigious CS:GO tournaments, with players from around the globe competing. Although the prize money is supplied by Valve, the tournaments themselves are organized by other esports organizations, including ESL, Major League Gaming, and DreamHack.
The most recent Major took place at the Intel Extreme Masters XIII, with Danish squad Astralis winning first place and $500,000. The Fall edition is set to take place in Berlin with a $1 million prize pool. It will feature 24 teams from the four qualifying regions: Americas, Asia, CIS, and Europe.
Overwatch World Cup
Date: November 2-3, 2019
The Overwatch World Cup features many of the same players as the Overwatch League, but this time they are competing for their home countries rather than their esports organizations. In 2018, four countries hosted qualifying tournaments for six nations, with the top two teams moving on to the finals at BlizzCon.
So far, no nations have been able to match the South Korean players’ prowess, with all three first place trophies heading to the esports-friendly nation. It’s worth noting that players aren’t in it for the money, as all participating teams receive the same prize of $16,000. This can often lead to interesting strategies and wacky hijinks that you wouldn’t see in the more competitive Overwatch League.
Fortnite World Cup Finals
Date: July 26-28, 2019
The Fortnite World Cup Finals brought with them a prize pool worthy of the world’s most popular game: $40 million. That’s nearly half of the $100 million that Epic Games pledged for 2019 to make their hit game into an esports juggernaut. Although the game’s suitability for true competitive play is still questionable, the sheer size of the pool drew players and streamers from a variety of backgrounds to play.
Weekly qualifiers kicked off April 13, with a prize pool of $1 million to be distributed among successful contestants each week. From there, the top 100 solo players and the top 50 duo players were invited to New York City for the Fortnite World Cup Finals in July. The top solo player, 16 year old Bugha, took home $3 million, with the top duo team, Aqua and Nhyrox, splitting another $3 million between the two of them.
Evolution Championship Series
Date: August 2-4, 2019
If you’re a fan of fighting games, odds are you’ve already heard of the Evolution Championship Series, or Evo for short. Evo is easily the biggest esports tournament in the genre, growing year after year since its start more than 20 years ago in 1996.
This year’s tournament took place in Las Vegas from August 2-4. It featured brackets for a variety of fighting games, including Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Tekken 7, Street Fighter V, Dragonball FighterZ, and others.
Top eSports Leagues
The Overwatch League, or OWL, has just entered its second season, with a total prize pool of $5 million. If you haven’t heard of it, OWL is Blizzard-Activision’s official esports league for their hit first-person hero shooter Overwatch. In 2018 it was the most watched esports league, mostly because of the sheer number of hours the league was broadcast.
The action is spread across a 28-match schedule with four, five-week long stages. Each stage concludes with a playoff tournament for the honor of becoming the Stage Champions, but the real prize is after the end of the fourth stage. The OWL season 2 grand finals (not to be confused with the Overwatch World Cup above), will have the top teams vying to become the season 2 champions and take home the $1 million prize that comes with it.
League of Legends Championship Series
This year Riot Games’ official League of Legends esports league underwent a rebranding, with the NALCS changing to the LCS, and the EULCS switching to the League European Championship (LEC). Other popular regions like China’s LPL and Korea’s LCK remain unchanged.
Each season is divided into two sections, the Spring and Summer splits, with a short split playoff game and Mid-Season Invitational tournament tucked between them. The real excitement is at the League of Legends World Championship, which brings together the top teams from all regions to compete for the cup. Last year’s tournament drew nearly 75 million viewers, making it the most watched esports event of the year.
Call of Duty World League
While most first-person shooter competitions take place at esports tournaments, Activision has set up a league for the Call of Duty franchise. This year the league enters its fourth season, with all matches played on the PS4 version of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
Unlike last season, this season the action is all 5v5 team modes, including Hardpoint, Search & Destroy, and Control game types. The finals took place in Los Angeles in August, with more than $2 million in prizes. Before you get excited, no, the recently added battle royale mode is not played in the league.
Rocket League Championship Series
The esports League for Psyonix’s car-soccer hit Rocket League is back again in 2019 with $1 million in prizes. This year an additional region has been added as South America joins the existing American and European regions.
After a series of qualifiers, the action will kicked off in early April. There is also a secondary Rival league for teams that fail to qualify for the main league with $100,000 in prize money.
PUBG Global Championship
Fortnite may have dethroned PUBG in the fight for battle royale supremacy, but PUBG is pushing back with the introduction of the PUBG Global Championship in 2019. The season is divided into three phases, each of which is followed by one or more international tournaments, such as the PUBG Nations Cup seen above.
There are six regional Pro Leagues in the inaugural season: North America, Europe, Korea, Japan, China, and Chinese Taipei. There are also three smaller “Pro Circuit” regions for Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Oceana. Each will host its own regional events before sending the top teams to compete internationally. The PUBG Global Championship finals are set to take place from November 23-24, with $2 million in prizes on the line.
Mobile esports on the rise
Mobile esports are still small in comparison with their PC and console peers, but here are a few mobile esport tournaments and leagues to check out.
- Clash Royale League — Supercell’s official esports league for their hit arena strategy game, Clash Royale.
- PUBG Mobile Club Open — The PMCO features more than $2 million in prizes, spread across three separate events.
- Valor Series — The premier esports league for Arena of Valor entered its third year in February.
- Vainglory — The mobile MOBA is featured regularly at international tournaments and even has a pro league called the Vainglory Premier League.
Did we miss any great esports tournaments or esports leagues? Let us know in the comments below!