Like with traditional sports, the most important part of eSports are the tournaments. The main principle is the same; multiple teams that will compete against each other in a knock out race until one team wins the grand prize. Fans can go to an arena to cheer for their favorite team or watch a live coverage of the event at the comfort of their own homes. However, there are of course some differences.
At this moment, there are around 32 recurring eSports tournaments and leagues worldwide. Some of them are international and some are only in a specific country. Popular tournaments are Dreamhack, Major League Gaming and The International. However, the most popular event of this year was ‘Intel Extreme Masters World Championship’ which took place in Katowice, Poland. To give you an idea of its popularity, during the finals 173.000 attended the event in the stadium and had more than 46 million unique online viewers. The event was the most broadcasted event in ESL’s history, with 70 linear and digital partners worldwide who produced and distributed content in 19 languages.
But let’s start with some explanation of the tournaments. Each tournament or league is focused on one specific game only. This can be a FPS like ‘Call of Duty’ or a MOBA like ‘League of Legends’. Each tournament comes with a different structure, some more complex than others. However, the most common one is still the Double-Elimination bracket.
Tournaments are surrounded by huge shows and broadcasting events. As mentioned before, fans can either go to the stadium or watch the event at home. The biggest form of broadcasting eSports is through online platforms. Streaming service Twitch.tv is the most popular platform, with an international reach of millions of people. Hosts present the whole event, together with other activities like interviews with the e-athletes and their fans. There is also a lot of interactivity with Social Media and the comments viewers post in the live chat of the stream.
This is already impressive and it puts on a great show, but the most important part of the tournament are of course the matches. During a match, the two teams take place on stage, sometimes in a small room that is isolated against the sounds of the stadium. During the match, the gameplay is commentated by a so-called play-by-play-caster. His role is to tell everything that is happening in the gameplay. Afterwards, a team of shout casters is responsible for analyzing the match and discuss tactics, player choices, replays and more.
With the rising popularity of eSports and the more sponsors it attracts, prize pools are getting higher and higher. The biggest one of this year was at ‘The International’, a DOTA 2 championship in Seattle. The total prize pool of this event was $24,687,919.00 with a grand prize of $10,862,683.00 for the winning team. These sums of money clearly show the popularity and the size of certain eSports tournaments and giving the fact that eSports still is relatively young, who knows what the size of these events will be in ten years.