esports Tournaments - Do They Really Fill Stadiums?

The 5 most famous esports tournaments worldwide

Gamer at an Esports tournament

Professional gaming is not yet an official sport, but the hype is still huge. Esports events are on the rise and captivate tens of thousands of spectators. But what are the biggest eSports tournaments? And where do they take place? We have taken a closer look at five of the world's biggest eSports events. Come with us as we examine the world of electronic sports.

Article contents:

The most popular tournament games

There are numerous games on the market. But only a few games are suitable for the tournament format. We'll give you a short overview of the three most popular competitive games:


CS:GO stands for the computer game Counter Strike: Global Offensive, which belongs to the genre of the online tactical shooters. Two teams with five players each compete against each other for map dominance.

The most played scenario is bomb defusion: the "terrorists" are tasked with planting and defending a bomb site. The "counter terrorists" must then stop the terrorists by defusing the bomb. If the bomb is planted and detonated, the terrorists get the point. After a certain number of rounds the teams change their roles.

The two teams play a total of 30 rounds, first team to 16 wins the set. In a best of 3 scenario, first team with 2 sets wins the match. In a best of 5 scenario, first team with 3 sets wins the match and moves to the next round.


League of Legends

League of Legends, also called LoL, belongs to the free playable genre of Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA). League of Legends is a real-time strategy game, in which two teams compete against each other on a map designed like an arena and try to take each other's base.

Tournaments are usually played on 5v5 maps. The map is divided into two halves so that each team has a territory with a main structure. The object of the game is to conquer the opponent's main structure.

A game usually lasts 15 to 60 minutes. As in CS:GO, there are best of 1, best of 3 and best of 5 scenarios. Esports tournaments for LoL are usually organised by the game developer Riot Games.

Dota 2

Dota 2 is a MOBA, real-time strategy game developed by Valve. Dota 2 and League of Legends are very similar in their game mechanics. In Dota 2, too, the objective is to capture the opponent's base. However, due to the abilities of the numerous playable characters, Dota 2 is much more tactical and less centered on the one game character. With over a hundred heroes to choose from, DOTA is a very diverse game.

The game is played in teams of five. A round takes about 15 to 60 minutes. The tournament scenario differs depending on the event. In a double knockout system, a team must lose twice to be eliminated.

4 eSports events everyone should know about

If you want to experience games like Counter Strike or LoL to cheer on your favorite team, you should look through the internet or facebook to see if there are any events in your area. We take a closer look at four well-known events in Germany and around the world.

ESL, the Electronic Sports League, is one of the best-known tournament providers in Germany. The Cologne-based eSports company now offers tournaments and leagues in over 50 different disciplines. One of its tournament formats is ESL ONE for CS:GO and Dota 2, whose events also take place in Germany.


The summer in Cologne is all about esports. In addition to the annual gamescom, the world's largest event for computer and video games, CS:GO teams will compete there at the esports event ESL ONE Cologne. 15,000 esports enthusiasts make the pilgrimage to the esports tournament in the LANXESS Arena in Cologne to cheer on their favorite teams - an atmosphere similar to that of the World Cup:

Cologne is not the only venue for the ESL. The ESL ONE holds tournaments worldwide for CS:GO in other metropolises:

  • ESL ONE Cologne, Germany (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
  • ESL ONE Katowice, Poland (2015)
  • ESL ONE Belo Horizonte, Brazil (2018)


Just like the first person shooter Counterstrike, DOTA 2 has garnered a large fanbase in the eSports scene. In 2017, the tournament took place in Hamburg for the first time, but thousands of eSports fans have already gathered in Frankfurt in previous years to cheer on DOTA teams. The esports event, endowed with one million dollars, attracted 10,000 people to the Barclaycard Arena in Hamburg in 2017:

ESL ONE DOTA 2 has already taken place in various German cities. Since 2018, thousands of eSports fans have been drawn to ESL One Hamburg to cheer on their favorite DOTA teams.

This video from ESL One Hamburg 2017 gives you a good impression of the atmosphere at an ESL One tournament:

3rd League of Legends World Championship (LoL Worlds)

While a variety of games are played in the ESL One and ESL Intel Extreme Masters Tournaments, the LCS only focuses on one game: League of Legends. The tournament is run by the game's own creator: Riot Games. The tournament is divided into Spring and Summer, meaning grand finals are held twice a year.

The World Cup casts a spell over players and spectators around the world. So far the event has been held on three continents. A single World Cup often takes place in different countries and cities:

  • Jönköping, Sweden (DreamHack 2011)
  • Taipei, Taiwan / Singapore, Republic of Singapore/ Busan, South Korea / Seoul, South Korea (2014)
  • Paris, France / London, Great Britain / Brussels, Belgium / Berlin, Germany (2015)
  • USA: San Francisco / Chicago / New York / Los Angeles (2016)
  • China: Wuhan / Guangzhou / Shanghei / Beijing (2017)
  • South Korea: Seoul / Busan / Gwangju / Incheon (2018)

While there was originally a prize pool of $100,000 for players in Sweden in 2011, the prize pool grew to $4.5 million in China in 2017.

But it's not just the prize pool that's increasing. The number of spectators also continues to grow. Over 80,000 spectators filled an entire soccer stadium in China where SK Telecom T1 and Samsung Galaxy fought for the title in the final. 40 million viewers also followed the event via live stream.

Watch the highlights of the LoL Worlds 2022 Finals in this video:

4. The International

The International is the world's largest endowed eSports event, with 25.5 million dollars in prize money at stake in the Dota2 tournament. The 1st place finishers Team OG received 11.2 million dollars and the two last place finishers received $63,580 dollars. Although the tournament was organised by the game's developer Valve itself, most of the prize money came from the fans. Their combined in-game purchases made up the majority of the prize money. In 2018, the promoters paid only 1.6 million by themselves.

Did you know:

Although the tournament is organized by the game developer Valve itself, most of the prize money comes from the fans. Their in-game purchases make up the majority of the prize money.

Because of the enormous prize pool, esports both men and woman are expected to compete in the high-stakes tournament. You can also see this in the short report on the final teams Team Liquid and Newbee at The International 2017:

The Esports event is now held mainly in North America, although the foundation was laid in the eSports metropolis of Cologne. The venues so far have been:

  • Cologne, Germany (2011)
  • Seattle, USA (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)
  • Vancouver, Canada (2018)

Esports tournaments - the enthusiasm remains

So do esports events really fill stadiums? Yes, they do. The ESL ONE Cologne 2017 even broke all spectator records according to information from ESL Gaming. In addition to the 15,000 daily spectators in the LANXESS Arena, more than 180,000 viewers watched the stream on Sliver TV. And the following on social networks was also huge, with 30 million unique users.

Earning money by gaming becomes more and more attainable as esports tournaments fill whole arenas. Do you want to become a professional esports athlete yourself? Then we have some tips for you on Fitness and nutrition in esports. Or do you have a team yourself or are you involved in an esports club? Then take a look at our Esports Jerseys. With these you will make an instant impression at your next tournament - no matter if you are a player, a coach or fan.


Image Credits: Titel image © gettyimages/gorodenkoff