After a challenging 2020 which saw many of the biggest tournaments cancelled or heavily revised to prevent the spread of Covid-19, players and fans alike will be hoping for a return to normality in terms of eSports 2021.
We have broken down the main events confirmed for each of the major eSports this year.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
The CS:GO season features a wide range of lucrative tournaments. The most prestigious are the Major Championships, which are sponsored by developers Valve and involve 24 teams competing for a $1m prize pool.
The year begins with more excitement than usual as the delayed BLAST Premier Global Final from 2020 in late January will see an eight-way battle for supremacy.
We then only have a short wait for the next big event, with the Intel Extreme Masters slated for a February staging in Poland.
The spring major has been cancelled though, so we will have to wait until the second half of the year for the autumn equivalent and the preceding ESL One, both of which also carry a seven-figure purse.
League of Legends
There are currently 12 ‘tier one’ professional LoL leagues which are organised geographically and allow teams to qualify for the Mid-Season Invitational and World Championship tournaments.
Exact dates are still a bit hazy for this season, but we expect the spring season to play out between January and March with play-offs in April. The aforementioned Mid-Season Invitational, featuring a group stage followed by a knockout format to determine the winners, will then bookend the first half of the year.
The summer season from June to August plays out in the same way, except that all eyes will be on September when the World Championship begins.
Boasting over $2m in prize money, this 24-team event begins with a series of play-ins before four groups of four teams compete to reach an eight-team knockout stage.
The Dota Pro Circuit comprises six regional leagues that compete in two separate six-week seasons to qualify for one of two major tournaments. This all builds to The International tournament in late summer, featuring 12 invited teams and one qualifier from each region.
The first season runs from mid-January to mid-March before the first major – with $1m in prizes to play for – takes us through to early April.
The second season picks up again almost immediately with a focus on the second major in early June, but these are just appetisers for the showpiece of the Dota 2 calendar.
The International 10, slated for July and August, has a base prize pool of $1.6m but fan contributions look set to push this beyond a staggering $40m.
With a quarter of all sales from in-game items like the Battle Pass and upgrades being allocated to the prize fund, the tournament’s enduring popularity will make it the most lucrative competition in all of global eSports 2021.
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