The esports industry is booming and 2018 was its best year to date. Full of esports events and spectacular moments, last year saw the industry grow significantly, reach millions of new fans, attract huge sponsors and provide over 100 important tournaments to delight esports enthusiasts of every title.
This article deals with the top 5 esports events and we selected one from each of the highly popular titles: League of Legends, Dota 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch and StarCraft 2.
League of Legends World Championship 2018
Worlds 2018 was the League of Legends World Championship for the 2018 competitive season. The event drew a massive audience from around the world and was watched for a total of 74 million hours via Twitch and YouTube live streams. This was an absolutely impressive and record breaking performance that proved once again that people really do enjoy watching esports.
As for the tournament itself, Worlds 2018 had a prize pool of 6.45 million dollars and was attended by 24 teams. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the tournament is not the winner or the runner-up, but the fact that SK Telecom T1 did not participate at all.
Faker and his squad had a disastrous year in the Korean league (LCK) and after several years of not only participating, but winning or at least playing in the Grand Final of the event, SK seems to have finally found its inevitable demise as the world’s best LoL team. As they say, no king rules forever. But it will be interesting to see if this League of Legends powerhouse can make a comeback in the new season.
Worlds 2018 was won by Invictus Gaming, whose path to the title was pretty easy. The only obstacle they faced was in the Quarter Finals, where they struggled to beat KT Rolster (3 – 2). Apart from that, they IG crushed G2 Esports (3 – 0) in the Semifinals and Fnatic (3 – 0) in the Grand Final.
Dota 2 The International 2018
The International 2018 was by far the best International so far. The 8th edition proved that sheer determination and the power of friendship can conquer anything. The winner of the event was the team regarded as the least likely to win it. A total of 18 competitors took part in the tournament and OG was the 18th on the favorites list. Absolutely nobody believed in their ability to claim the Aegis of Champions, but that’s exactly what they did. What happened there will remain in the history books as possibly the greatest dark horse story in all of esports.
In terms of spectacle and numbers, The International 2018 gathered a huge crowd and was watched for a total of 53 million hours via live streams. That number is absolutely ridiculous for a 10-day event.
The International 2018 or TI 8 as the fans often call it had a prize pool of 25.5 million dollars, which is a new record not just for Dota 2, but for the esports industry as a whole. In particular, the winner of the tournament was rewarded with $11.2 million, an unimaginable amount for any other esport.
As usual, the 25% from the Battle Pass sales that went to the prize pool of TI 8 helped the tournament tremendously in that regard and proved that the community cares a great deal about the professional scene. Dota 2 may have just 10 million active players but their level of involvement and willingness to support their beloved game is absolutely impressive.
CS:GO ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018
This was the greatest CS:GO event of the year and one of the greatest of all time when it comes to Counter-Strike. ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018 had a prize pool of 1 million dollars, brought together 23 teams (should have been 24 but one couldn’t attend) and provided almost 3 solid weeks of competition. In total, the tournament was watched for 50 million hours via live streams and was a massive success in every way.
ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018 was won by the local fans’ favorite, Cloud9. This was the best performance by a North American team in the history of the game, and it helped Stewie2K and the rest of the squad to become absolute legends of this beautiful esport. Sadly, the success wasn’t going to last, and the team lost 3 of its players since then. But the result still stands as evidence that NA CS:GO can be the absolute best in the world.
Among other things, ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018 was the tournament that preceded the Astralis era, which isn’t over yet by the way, even though it’s been almost a year since then. A year in which Astralis won over 10 titles, including the FACEIT Major: London 2018.
The Overwatch League
The inaugural season of The Overwatch League (OWL) was a huge success that led to an even bigger show that’s scheduled for 2019. Instead of 12 teams, we will have 20. And instead of a $1.8 million prize pool, we will have a $5 million prize pool.
In 2018, The Overwatch League took place in 4 Stages plus Playoffs and each stage was a story in and of itself. Stage 1 was won by New York Excelsior in the overall standings and London Spitfire in the Playoffs of this stage. In Stage 2, New York Excelsior got their revenge, winning both the regular competition as well as the Playoffs. Stage 3 saw Boston Uprising go 10 W – 0 L in the regular matches, a unique record for The Overwatch League, but then lose in the Playoffs against New York Excelsior, who scored another stage victory. In Stage 4, the regular competition was won by Los Angeles Gladiators, while the Playoffs title went to Los Angeles Valiant. And finally, in the Playoffs of the whole league, London Spitfire simply rose from the dead and claimed the title, against all odds.
One noteworthy fact about the first season of The Overwatch League is the negative record achieved by Shanghai Dragons. They went 0 W – 40 L and achieved an absolute record not just for Overwatch, but for esports as a whole. It is very hard to imagine anyone else ever reaching such a level of failure anytime soon, so Shanghai Dragons are sure to retain their spot in the esports records books for a long time to come.
StarCraft II World Championship Series (WCS) 2018 Global Finals
And finally, we have the 2018 WCS Global Finals, the most important StarCraft 2 event of 2018. We would also name it the most important StarCraft 2 event in the history of the game, as this was the first edition that didn’t have a Korean winner.
South Korea had dominated SC2 since its inception. And if we take SC1 into account as well, then the Koreans had dominated StarCraft for over 20 years. Until one man appeared from Finland to save the honor of Europe or should we say, the rest of the world.
Serral is only 20 years old but he somehow found a way to bring about the end of an era in one of the most iconic esports in the industry. His performance and Grand Final win against Stats brought him a prize of $280.000 and the admiration of the whole world. He will always be remembered as the guy who beat the Koreans at their own game. It was a monumental achievement.