Ranking the biggest events in esports

In honor of it being the week of the International, I wanted to discuss the events that have helped legitimize esports. From DOTA to League, all the way to fighting games and Counter-Strike, each game has pushed the scene forward with events that not only grab the attention of esports fans, but even more importantly the general public.

The five events mentioned below have all played an important role in building up their respective scenes. They have not only been great for publicity but have also made careers in esports a reality. They have partially changed the communities in which these events take place. Here are the five most essential events today.

5. Call of Duty World Championships

Activision has made serious strides into making Call of Duty a premiere title within the esports landscape. The creation of the Call of Duty Championship, with prize pools over $1 million, along with the creation of Call of Duty World League, is the support this game needed.

It’s not only given fans more to watch each weekend but also gives them a reason to follow along as the season moves closer to the World Championship. In a short time, Call of Duty has become the premier console shooter and it’s thanks to this.

4. ESL CS:GO

Counter-Strike is different than the other esports. The scene doesn’t have one championship event that takes priority over the others. It’s an open landscape with many different events that offer plenty of payouts.

However, there’s one league that consistently puts together the most competitive and prestigious events. ESL has always been a major contributor to Counter-Strike dating back to 1.6, but in Global Offensive they’ve stepped up significantly. The one other event to rival ESL is Turner’s ELEAGUE which brought in a million unique viewers on Twitch alone.

For this reason, I have to mention Counter-Strike in this discussion. While it doesn’t have a keystone tournament like The International or Evo, the largest events in CS surpass any other event in terms of general interest. ESL is a great example of this, but there’s plenty of other tournaments that also take precedent in this argument.

3. League of Legends – Worlds

League of Legends wasn’t the first game to popularize the esports age, but it’s mostly responsible for the boom in popularity since the creation of the League Championship Series. The LCS has been a major success, in terms of growing esports, and has kept players interested in the game since release.

Continually, the League of Legends season culminates into the World Championships, a month long tournament that brings together all the regional champions. League is essentially the only title currently that has a system that funnels into a championship event. 15 days of competition while a litany of the best teams compete for millions in prizes on the big stage of Madison Square Garden and other stadiums.

2. Evo

By the same token, no other event comes close to the history of the Evolution series. Dating back to 1996, Evo has been the linchpin for all the growth in the fighting game community. Evo has single handily brought the underground community into the Mandalay Bay Stadium.

It’s hard to say that any other event matches the intensity that Evo cultivates. Once a player gets on that grand stage, it’s almost a guarantee that something amazing will follow. It’s also the one event that doesn’t require any knowledge coming in because of the simplicity of fighting games. Anyone can enjoy it and more importantly, anyone can feel the hype generated from the world’s most prestigious fighting game tournament.

In spite of the fact that Evo has a significantly lower prize pool than these other events, it’s still considered by many to be the most meaningful tournament for the players. Coupled with the history, an Evo trophy means something more than just a check. It’s a chance to cement a legacy as one of the greats.

The International 7. Photo courtesy of GosuGamers

1. The International

Finally, we reach The International. It’s an event responsible for bringing in a new generation of esports fans. It not only has the highest prize pool in esports, but in a short time has become the most sought after trophy in the entire scene.

It’s a life changing event. The rush of playing for millions of dollars amps up the intensity levels. Even as a fan, the adrenaline begins to pump. It’s a wild ride from start to finish, and not one event has been a let down in seven years. Valve’s responsible for making it an event in every sense of the word. It’s no longer just a DOTA tournament, it’s a happening in the Seattle area.


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The great global shuffle: Where’s NA?

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you know about the insane roster moves lately including teams such as FaZe, fnatic, mousesports, Na’Vi, Gambit, and many more. It’s a surprise to not see any North American teams on that list. Today, I’ll go through some teams that should make some changes and explore some possibilities for players they could pick up.

Cloud9

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Photo by: hltv.org

The big dog of the North American scene, rarely not holding the title of the best, is currently uninvolved with the shuffles. While they may be looking for a new organization, they aren’t looking to change their roster. As far as we know of course. Cloud9 may have had recent international success, making the semis of ECS Season 3 finals and a 2nd place at ESL One Cologne. But, don’t let that distract you from the fact that the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead Cloud9 has done this before. Making the finals of, or even winning, a tournament and being content with their roster for six months.

Mike “shroud” Grzesiek has underperformed to a huge extent for the last year, aside from ESL One Cologne. One tournament has been enough to stop C9 from making a change, but it’s about time that they make one. Even replacing Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert would be a welcome, although saddening, change. Both players are inconsistent, and there are a few players that would definitely be good replacements in place of these two.

Skyler “Relyks” Weaver: A consistent player who seems to be able to play in almost every situation thrown at him. He can AWP, he can clutch, and he can entry. He’s versatile and it seems like that’s a role that needs to be filled if Shroud or n0thing need their shoes filled.

Adam “Friberg” Adam: An entry combo of Friberg and Jake “Stewie2k” Yip sounds awesome. Two people who are absolutely dedicated to running out and doing their job, what more would you want? This would also solve the issues of n0thing not wanting to take an entry frag role.

Derek “Desi” Branchen: Another consistent player, but unfortunately doesn’t seem to be much of a choice for the top teams due to toxicity issues. Cloud9 could use a player like Desi, especially if n0thing were to go as he’s an improved copy and paste of the player.

OpTic Gaming

You can say that OpTic was technically involved with the roster shuffles, having Oscar “mixwell” Cañellas almost being snatched up by mousesports, along with James “hazed” Cobb being removed from the roster. Though, the move with hazed was well known to happen beforehand. Unfortunately for OpTic, they’ve been stuck in this situation since January. Trying a player and dropping him, rinse and repeat. Not to mention the issue with mixwell not even wanting to AWP and being very open about that. This roster has many problems and they’ve made it seem impossible to fix them. Fortunately, there are a couple of free agents out there that OpTic could very well take advantage of.

shuffle

Photo by: hltv.org

Aleksi “allu” Jalli: A great AWPer, not the best, but definitely not the worst. He also happens to be a good rifler along with his AWP. That could fix the issue with mixwell, allowing him to be the most comfortable.

Adam “Friberg” Friberg: He seems like the biggest possibility as they’ve already seemed to contact him. Much like Cloud9, a Friberg and Will “RUSH” Wierzba entry combo sounds awesome.

Michael “Uber” Stapells: A decent player. He hasn’t completely proved himself as a player but on a team like OpTic could prove to be a great platform for the player to build himself on. He has potential, and while that’s not the best justification, I feel it’s worth a try for OpTic.

Renegades

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Photo by: hltv.org

The honorary NA team. Renegades have recently showed that they’re willing to play with international talent. First trying out Simon “atter” Atterstam, and then picking up Noah “Nifty” Francis and Nemenja “nexa” Isaković. With recent underwhelming performances and a rumored removal of nexa, trying out some of the new free agents around doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Especially with what Renegades needs the most: consistency. Obviously, this team doesn’t really need to change much. If their core roster begins to become more consistent, this team could be great. Unfortunately, they’ve been waiting too long for that to happen and it seems change is the only way to go right now.

Adam “Friberg” Friberg: Again? Well, if you look at Renegades in terms of roles, they don’t have a proper second in. Or even first at some times. Friberg would instantly fix that, making it his mission to get out there and do damage at the least.

Michael “Uber” Stapells: Formerly Uber stood in for Renegades in a time where they didn’t have a proper fifth. Performing at a decent level in his time with Renegades. Added with some built up chemistry, Uber seems like one of the best, if not the best, options for Renegades.

Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi: Once upon a time pyth actually played in North America, so this isn’t as far fetched as the other international players. Not only that, pyth can play the positions that Renegades seems to be needing.

The Rest

For the other teams, it doesn’t seem like it’s much of an option to change their rosters. Other than NRG removing Peter “ptr” Gurney and him replacing Desi on compLexity, nothing much has even happened in the first place. Liquid seems even more content with their roster than Cloud9 ever has with theirs. CLG just doesn’t have many options for any roster moves. Misfits are in a weird place with their roster and it’s hard to say that they should make a change. It’s hard to say whether or not any NA team will take advantage of any of the free agents out there, but hopefully in the end they do.


Featured image via ESL Gaming.

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