Top 10 esports leagues
What are the most popular electronic leagues?
- Electronic Sports League (ESL)
- League of Legends World Championship
- Dota major tournaments
- Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League
- Major League Pro Arena
- Observation League
- Halo World Championship
- PUBG World Championship
1. Electronic Sports League
An e-sports league (or ESL for short) is actually a collection of many different e-leagues and leagues all owned and operated under the same name: ESL. For example, one of these competitions, ESL Pro League, includes separate competitions for Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Rainbow Six Siege, referred to as ESL Pro League: CS: GO and ESL R6S, respectively.
ESL is the largest such conglomerate in the world, with four main divisions of competitions:
- ESL Play: competitions at all levels
- ESL National Championships: Limited by geographic region; Allow qualification to the major tournaments
- ESL Pro Tour: The Circuit of International Continuing Events; Includes only 3 titles (Counter Strike, WarCraft III and StarCraft II)
- ESL One: Offline quizzes; Among the best competitors for every game
The ESL One Series has the most money, with over $12.5 million awarded over more than 60 cycles.
2. League of Legends World Championship
The League of Legends World Championship (or “LoL Worlds” for short), formed in 2011 and operated by Riot Games (the game’s owner), is the largest League of Legends esports tournament in the world. League of Legends is a hugely popular game in esports, with the jewel in the crown of competitions offering staggering prize money over $27 million in just 13 tournaments.
To be included in the Lol World Championship, players must qualify through one of the regional tournaments such as the LoL Championship Series (from North America and Europe) or the LoL Pro League (from China).
The World League of Legends Championship is known for its intense and dramatic matches. These high stakes competitions are often very emotional for players and fans alike.
The tournament culminates in a massive live event each year that sees the winning team take away the 70-pound Summoner Trophy and millions in prize money.
The International is an annual Dota 2 competition hosted by Valve, the makers and owners of Dota 2. This 18-team competition includes the most valuable tournament payouts in the esports world. The International paid out an insane amount of over $140 million in prize money for the 2018-19 season across 10 different tournaments, even though the main event itself paid out over $34 million (with the winning team winning over $15 million) in 2019 And the prize pool is growing every year.
The International is funded through the Battle Pass system, which allows players to generate direct revenue for playing the game. A quarter of this entire revenue stream goes to prize money, making the payouts huge. Like many other electronic leagues, the International culminates in a live event.
The International is a prestigious, invitation-only competition. Players must go through Dota Pro Circuit or their regional tournaments to receive an invite.
4. Dota Grand Tournament
Major Dota tournaments are a set of events that occur seasonally over a given year. Fall, Winter, and Spring Dota Majors lead to The International in summer, the largest of these events. The main Dota tournaments are operated by Valve Corporation, the game’s developers and publishers.
Presentation of Dota Major Leagues is designed to enhance the overall structure and competition in Dota 2 esports worldwide. The format of including separate seasonal tournaments that eventually led to The International was changed in 2017 with the introduction of Dota Pro Circuit, bringing the Majors into larger events run by Valve.
Overall, the entire Dota Grand Prix series has awarded $31.5 million in prize money across 21 tournaments. A third-party Dota Major award is a minimum of $500,000. In addition to the Dota Majors, there are also Dota Minors, smaller competitions with a minimum price of $150,000. Valve matches these rewards for each Majors and Minors qualifier, respectively.
5. Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League
Although console and PC platform games have historically dominated the esports scene, mobile gaming has been on the rise in recent years, particularly in the Southeast Asian market.
Among those mobile games is Mobile Legends, a Montoon-made game that closely mimics the PC game League of Legends — so much so that Riot Games already received $2.9 million in court damages for plagiarism in 2019.
However, Mobile Legends has risen in popularity, and Mobile Legends: Bang Bang Professional League is the largest Mobile Legends league. It even won “Tournament of the Year” at the 2019 EXGCON Indonesia Gaming Awards.
Mobile Legends events fail to pay out prize money like other esports, but the MPL ID Season 5 tournament garnered the most eyes (around 1.2 million) of any esports event in the world in 2019, surpassing the likes of League of Legends, CS: GO and PUBG. What’s even more impressive is that they held two separate events with over a million viewers, and no other game has been able to match them.
6. Professional League Games Arena
Major League Gaming (MLG) is a comprehensive organization with quite a few different leagues and leagues. It is headquartered in New York and focuses on the North American market. The largest is MLG Pro Circuit, which has awarded more than $9.5 million in prize money over its 17-year history.
MLG Pro Circuit includes many different game titles. While it has historically focused on first-person shooters and fighting games, in 2011 it expanded to include a multiplayer online battle arena and real-time strategy games. MLG currently hosts tournaments with the following titles:
- Call of duty
- Note and watch
- world of cans
- Storm heroes
All of MLG and its assets were acquired by Activision Blizzard in 2016 for $46 million. These assets include MLG.tv, which Activision hopes will become a massive electronic media conglomerate. MLG is still hosting its own events for non-Activision Blizzard titles.
ELeague is a unique esports league designed to be incorporated into broadcast television through Turner Broadcasting Systems (TBS) in the United States. Essentially, it was designed as a TV show, helping to bridge the narrow gap between esports and mainstream culture.
ELeague is similar to a traditional sports league, with regular seasons leading to playoffs, which then culminate in a final.
ELeague began starring in Counter Strike: Global Offensive in 2016, and has since featured a full lineup of games, including Street Fighter V, Overwatch, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Formula E, TEKKEN 7, Dota 2, and Rocket League. They have also hosted competitions with EA Sports FIFA and NBA 2K.
Elague has paid out over $8.6 million in prize money since its inception over the course of 18 different tournaments. This is quite impressive considering the relatively short lifespan of ELeague in the overall picture of esports.
8. Observation League
Overwatch League is an Overwatch league made by the developers of the same game: Blizzard Entertainment. The Overwatch League is a smaller league within the Major League Gaming conglomerate.
Although it is not the largest league in MLG, the Overwatch League stands out due to its high payouts and fan engagement numbers, as well as its unique engagement format and overall structure.
The Overwatch League operates quite differently than most professional esports leagues. Instead of the all-too-common rise and fall model found in many esports leagues, the Overwatch League uses a permanent pool of teams from existing cities that participate in a regular season, playoffs, and tournament format. This is similar to the ELeague format, although it is still unique in the overall esports landscape. The Overwatch League also uses conferences and divisions to split and split teams, which is unique in North American sports leagues.
9. Halo World Championship
The official Halo tournaments began in 2002 with a tournament hosted by the Associates of Gaming Professionals. Major League Gaming was formed that same year, but the Halo Championship series wasn’t created by Microsoft until 2014, 343 produced in conjunction with the Electronic Sports League.
One year later, Microsoft used the newly formed Halo World Championships to showcase Halo 5, the latest version of the classic Halo game. One year later, the 2016 prize pool had grown to $2.5 million for the event, a record amount at the time.
The Halo World Championship has awarded nearly $5 million over 26 tournaments, including the 2016 number. Both the 2017 and 2018 tournaments paid out $1 million each.
The Halo World Championships is one of the most successful tournaments for American competitors, who represent nearly all of the world’s historically high-income earners.
10. PUBG World Championship
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, better known as PUBG, is an online multiplayer game in which players compete in the form of a battle royale. Its availability on a variety of platforms makes it an accessible and popular game for many players.
The mobile format in particular is receiving a lot of attention, specifically from the Southeast Asian region. The PUBG Mobile World League 2020 East was the second most watched esports event of the year in 2019, peaking at over 1 million viewers. This was second only to the Mobile Legends MPL ID Championship for Season 5.
PUBG was one of the early games that used live events to showcase contests, fundraise and match in 2017 to offer prizes of $200,000 USD. An attractive cycle ensued, and today the PUBG Global Championship is the world’s most prestigious official PUBG esports competition, already awarding over $4 million in prizes through just six total tournaments.
What is the most popular esports sport?
Although this is hard to measure, League of Legends is generally considered to be the most popular esports title. Other games that may be able to make this claim include Dota 2, PUBG, League of Legends, or CS: GO.
League of Legends competitions represented four of the top 10 most watched esports tournaments in the world last year.
Only Dota 2, CS: GO, and Fortnite awarded more total prize money (all the time) than League of Legends. StarCraft II is nearing the top five.
What is the biggest esports league?
The Electronic Sports League (ESL) is the largest third-party esports league in the world. Other big leagues include Major League Gaming and Eleague.
Most esports federations operate on an internal system, where game developers and publishers, who already own the rights to their own games, retain the rights and host competitions and events themselves.
English as a second language has been at the forefront of two essential parts of esports growth: broadcasting and live events. It collaborates with video game companies to use their games and broadcast competitions to a massive audience.
What is the esports game with the most money?
Dota 2 is the esports game with the highest prize pool, with esports competitors winning over $227 million. This doubles its second-closest title, CS:GO, which barely crossed $100 million. Other highest earners are Fortnite (about $97 million), League of Legends (about $79 million), and StarCraft II (about $34 million).
PUBG, Hearthstone, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, and Arena of Valor are all out of the top ten.