and championships due to strict health and social distancing protocols, but we all have high hopes for 2021.
We’re all excited to observe offline tournaments and watch the annual breaking of esports industry records once again!
The eSports industry grew to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade— with fans and enthusiasts alike tuning in to annual professional gaming tournaments to root for their favorite professional teams.
Million-dollar prize pools, jam-packed venues and stadiums, here are the most anticipated eSports events of 2021 to look out for:
League of Legends World Championship 2021
Date: Sep 2021
Prize Pool: $1,000,000
There’s not much information revealed about the 2021 League of Legends World Championship yet, but many LoL gamers and fans are already looking forward to Worlds 2021.
It’ll look to improve from last year’s Worlds 2020, the tenth world championship for League of Legends, to keep pushing the boundaries further to expand the competitive League of Legends scene.
For 2021, having more participating teams is expected. It’s then possible for Worlds 2021 to turn into a larger scale event.
Riot Games confirmed that Shenzhen, China will host the 2021 League of Legends World Championship Finals. The decision was made due to the current COVID-19 pandemic prohibiting the tournament’s usual multi-city tour through its host region.
The International 2021
Date: Aug 2021
Prize Pool: $40 Million
In 2020, Valve announced the biggest heartbreak of Dota 2 players— the cancellation of the annual DOTA 2′s The International. TI10 was scheduled for August 2020, but the event was postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Valve has effectively rescheduled the tournament for August 2021.
It’s no surprise how eSports prize pools can reach tens of millions of dollars, with dozens of professionally-trained gamers partaking from across the world. However, TI10 was making eSports history in particular.
The community-gathered prize pool exceeded $40 million last year, breaking the record for the largest single-event prize pool ever.
As to how the prize pool surpassed $40M, Valve contributes 25% of all revenue from Dota 2’s annual Battle Pass (BP) to the TI prize pool. The BP allows players to unlock unique, time-limited in-game rewards such as cosmetics and various features.
With no tournament in 2020, the Battle Pass was made available far longer than usual, leading to the substantial inflation of the grand total. It is possible that Valve may decide to combine last year’s proceeds into a single, astronomical prize pool for the next T1 slated in 2021.
Intel Extreme Masters Katowice: CS:GO
Date: Feb 2021
Prize Pool: $1 Million
Brace yourselves, CS:GO fans! IEM Katowice will make a comeback this 2021. Accordingly, the event will be a great opportunity to reunite the entire CS:GO community.
The tournament is slated to take place from 16-28th February, with a total prize purse of $1,000,000.
The tournament is planned to be played without a physical audience, but as in person competition hosted on location in Europe. A total of 24 teams will be battling it out in the tournament (format unchanged) for a chance to win the Intel Grand Slam status.
It is the Championship event status; winning it allows a team to complete the Intel Grand Slam with four victories as opposed to six.
VALORANT 2021 Champions Tour
Date: Nov 29-Dec 12 2021
Prize Pool: TBA
With Riot Games’ Valorant breaking viewership records left and right, it was only about time for its first official tournament circuit.
Valorant 2021 Champions Tour looks to form a season-long competitive tour, featuring players across 6 continents where teams qualify through open qualifiers.
The event will culminate in an epic two-week long showdown where winners will be crowned in three Tiers: Challengers, Masters and Champions. It seems like there’s a lot in store for the future of Valorant eSports, with Riot Games saying:
“As we look ahead to the 2021 Champions Tour and the journey to build VALORANT into the next great esport, we’re thrilled at the prospect of doing it together with you.”
Fortnite Champion Series
Date: Feb 2021
Prize Pool: TBA
Epic Games previously confirmed they have no plans of holding in-person events in 2021, including the well-anticipated Fortnite World Cup. However, there will be Fortnite online competitions scheduled for this year.
The first and only Fortnite World Cup thus far happened in New York last 2019. The 3-day event culminated with Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf winning the competition and bagging $3 million in prize pool money. To date, the Fortnite World Cup remains to be arguably one of the biggest esports competitions.
Although there won’t be in-person events in 2021, the Fortnite Champion Series (FNCS) will continue this year. Chapter 2-Season 5 FNCS is planned to begin from February 4.
“Beyond our biggest competitions, in 2021, we’re putting together a schedule featuring more weekly tournaments, unique tournaments, and Creator Cups throughout the year.”
Instead, it will have a focus on trios competitions. Riot is also currently looking to experiment with new formats as well.
PUBG Global Invitational.S 2021
Date: Feb-March 2021
Prize Pool: $3.5M
PUBG eSports starts 2021 with a bang! Not long after the PUBG Mobile Global Championship Season 0 Finals in January 2021, where Nova Esports were crowned victors, there will be another event in PUBG Global Invitational.S 2021.
It will be the Final Event of the 2020-2021 Season organized by PUBG Corporation, with 32 Teams invited from across the globe. The event will be held in Incheon, South Korea and will have both offline & online events. PUBG Corporation assures the community that they will follow all possible precautions to make the tournament safe for everyone involved.
Initially announced in November 2020, PUBG Global Invitational.S 2021 is slated to be one of the biggest PUBG events in history, both in terms of the tournament’s structure and prize money.
It will last for 8 weeks, starting 1st February and concluding 28th March.
Call of Duty League Championship 2021
Date: Feb 2021
Prize Pool: $ 2.5M
The Call of Duty League Championship 2021 is the pro playoffs portion of the global offline Call of Duty league. Winners will be hailed as the World Champions of the Black Ops Cold War season.
The top 8 teams in CDL Points after all stages will be able to advance to Champs, with the prize pool of $ 2,500,000 US Dollars spread among the teams.
CDL debuted in 2020 with an ambitious plan to merge city-based teams with eSports, similar to the Overwatch League. However, CDL was forced to shift to an online format along with most other competitive gaming leagues. The 2021 season will be notably implementing a few changes, including 4 vs. 4 gameplay and a shift to PC.
Activision confirmed the CDL regular season for 2021 will kick off in an opening event from February 11th–14th.
Overwatch League 2021
Date: April 2021
Prize Pool: TBA
Overwatch League has traditionally kicked off early in the year, but Blizzard’s ambitious eSports league will be getting a late start in 2021.
It will also mark the first season in which the league starts off with remote matches, with some big changes to accommodate that:
“To take full advantage of what was learned last season, we’ve made several changes that will improve the quality of competition and the fan experience for this coming season.”
A structural change will be implemented. In particular, the 20-team league will be split into two divisions — one with teams from China and Korea, the other from North America and Europe.
They will play against other teams in their region during the regular season. Top teams from each division will then qualify for four major tournaments that will happen throughout the season.
OWL features teams from 19 cities across North America, Europe, and Asia. Currently, Blizzard says that a new tool is under development to make it possible to play across regions.
Six Invitational 2021
Date: Feb 2021
Prize Pool: TBD
For its fifth edition, the World Championship of Rainbow Six Siege is coming to Paris and will be held in February 2021. Most notably, the Six Invitational usually takes place in Montreal.
There will be no live audience and it will be the first major offline Rainbow Six event since the pandemic started.
The competition features 20 teams for the first time in its history, 16 organizations have already secured their spots for the Six Invitational 2021 through their Global Points standings rank. 4 additional slots, one per region, will be up for grabs in the regional Qualifiers.
The initial prize pool of the R6 tournament is $500,000 USD. However, an additional 30% of all Road to S.I. 2021 Battle Pass sales are added to the total pool— hence it may still go up to a maximum of $3M USD.
League of Legends: Wild Rift
Before Wild Rift’s official global release, Riot Games was already vocal in supporting the esports development of the popular MOBA title’s mobile port.
In January 2021, the company claimed it would “take the initial steps to build the Wild Rift esports ecosystem.”
Similar to its previous game launches, Riot will not dive head-on into a full franchised system or global league structure in Wild Rift’s first year. Instead, they will take time to experiment and observe community response to various competitions.
Fans can expect the game’s first official competitions to “come to life later in 2021.” There are already initial plans about upcoming Wild Rift tournaments, particularly in Southeast Asia where mobile eSports is already a dominant, thriving ecosystem.
It’s only a matter of time before your favorite eSports organizations announce their official Wild Rift roster.