eSports Leagues and Competitive Gaming in Canada

The interest in eSports contests and tournaments continues to grow and the number of people attending and watching these events gets bigger and bigger every year. On this page of our site, we are going to look at the different eSports leagues and tournaments.

Major eSports leagues and tournaments are played in high profile venues such as Wembley Arena in London, Staples Center in Los Angeles, and the Air Canada Center. They attract huge audiences with millions watching on the internet through sites like Twitch. Bigger audiences also mean bigger prize pools for the teams and players taking part and it's not uncommon for some competitions to be worth several million dollars.

Because the eSports industry is growing at such a rapid rate, new tournaments and leagues are introduced all the time. Some get discontinued, some merge with each other, and below you will find the biggest eSports leagues and competitions worth keeping an eye on.

Biggest eSports Leagues and Competitions

The International: This is the biggest eSports league and it's all about Dota 2. It has been held annually since 2011 and was part of Gamescom. The International is hosted and organized by Valve Corporation and they invited 16 teams to take part in their first tournament with a prize pool of $1.6 million. It was won by Natus Vincere, a Ukrainian team. They took home $1 million. The 2012 International was part of the PAX gaming festival. In 2013 the prize pool was $3 million. There have been changes made since 2014 including the addition of open qualifiers and teams can purchase battle passes. Proceeds from the sales are added to the prize pool. The International is broadcast on TV and has a partnership with ESPN. The prize pool for the 2017 tournament was almost $11 million.

Dota Major Championships: This eSports tournament started in 2015 by Valve Corporation. It incorporates The International along with other individual tournaments every year. This eSports series was introduced to expand on the success of The International. All the tournaments that make up the Dota Major Championships are hosted by third-party organizers and held in different arenas around the world. There have been five Dota Major Championships to date with a prize pool of $3 million for each.

League of Legends World Championship: This is the annual eSports tournament for League of Legends. It was first held back in 2011 and is now one of the most anticipated eSports Leagues every year. The winning team get the Summoner's Cup and a share of the prize money. The last win was for over $2 million. The format for this event has changed over the years. It consists of 16 teams that qualify based on their performances in regional leagues. There are leagues in North America, Europe, Korea, China, and Taiwan, Hong Kong & Macau. Each league has two or three qualifiers. The remaining places in the tournament are determined through playoffs known as the International Wild Card Qualifiers. Successful teams from a number of leagues enter the playoffs. The 16 teams in the tournament are then divided into four groups of four and they play in group stages and the top two teams from each group progress to the knockout stages. All the matches including the final are played in a best of five format. The prize pool for 2017 was $1.8 million.

ESL Pro Leagues & ESL One: The ESL (Electronic Sports League) is one of the biggest eSports competition organizers. They provide the platform for ESL Play which offers ranking tournaments for all skill levels. Players can work their way up through the ranks and then play in professional competitions. The main professional competitions organized by the ESL are their game specific Pro Leagues and ESL One series of eSports tournaments. There are ESL Pro Leagues for a range of games including Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Gears of War, Rocket League, Halo 5, Guild Wars 2, Hearthstone, Mortal Kombat X, Rainbow Six: Siege, and SKILL. CSGO is the main focus these days and is regularly featured in the ESL One series of tournaments along with Dota 2. These tournaments are held four or five times a year in different arenas around the world. ESL also organized ESL National Championships that are smaller and more region-specific events that are held in different countries.

The Intel Extreme Masters: This eSports league is also organized by ESL and is a series of tournaments that take place globally. They started back in 2007 to help eSports gain exposure. There are a number of qualifying events and a grand final each year. There are a number of different games played including Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Warcraft Reign of Chaos, Warcraft The Frozen Throne, World of Warcraft, Quake Live, Starcraft II, and League of Legends.

ELeague: Launched in 2016 This is the premier eSports league for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. It features the best teams from around the world and there are two seasons held each year. The first season ran from May to July and featured 24 teams that were separated into six groups of four. Teams played the other teams in their group before being seeded for the group semi-finals. The group winners went on to the playoffs. The eight teams in the playoffs battled it out until there was one overall winner. Season 2 featured 120 teams with 16 teams in the main league. The top eight teams from season 1 all qualified for the main league and other teams had to earn their place. Sixteen teams qualified and were split into groups and then battled it out to reach the final.

Other eSports Leagues and Competitions Worth Mentioning

There are lots more eSports leagues and competitions besides the main ones listed above. The ones below are all professional eSports competitions and many of these are high profile too.

  • Apex
  • Capcom Pro Tour/Capcom Cup
  • Call of Duty Championship/World League
  • EGames
  • Evolution Championship Series
  • ESWC
  • FIFA Interactive World Cup
  • Halo World Championships
  • Major League Gaming
  • Net World Championships
  • Smite World Championship
  • World Cyber Games
  • WESG - World Electronic Sports Games