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All Places > In the Limelight Blog > 2016 > February
2016

Though it's early in the year, there are already 11 events on the docket for 2016 that promise large viewing audiences and huge prize pools.  The guerrilla among viewing events of course is Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) which is working with ESL to put on the IEM finals in Katowice, Poland in March. Featuring three extremely popular games from three distinct publishers, League of Legends, Starcraft II, and CounterStrike, this three-day tournament attracts a huge crowd and creates tremendous cross-mingling of Esports enthusiasts from different game camps. Not only did 100,000 people attend the live event all three days, but the League of Legends World Championship portion garnered over 35 million online views on Twitch and over 4M video watches on Youtube.

 

For prize pools, the current leader is Activision's Call of Duty World Championship which has already promised a $3M prize pool for its year long tournament ending in the fall. However a newcomer, Turner Broadcasting has grabbed second place as of today with its promise of $2.4M for ELeague.  ELeague will feature live TV play of  CounterStrike "Eleague"  for 2, 10-week periods this summer.

 

Tournament schedules can be complicated but it's for good reason.  Esports is seeing aggressive growth at both the amateur and professional levels. A look at the schedules shows publishers and organizers working hard to bring these two competitive streams together.  Most schedules feature lengthy amateur qualifying periods, second chances, and selective merging of professional and amateur competition.  The result?  An extended build up of tension and uncertainty around the final line up that makes for great finales, and hopefully well-earned prizes.

 

So here's what's on the calendar, and the prize pools that have been announced to get you in the game:

 

Game

Tournament

Publisher

Organizer

Dates; City

Prize Pool

World of Tanks

Wargaming North America Finals

Wargaming

Wargaming, Intel

April 8,9; Warsaw

$300,000

VainGlory

Winter Series Live Championships

SuperEvil

SuperEvil

March 18; March 25; Online

$70,000

Halo

World Championship Finals

Microsoft

MLG;ESL

March 19,20

$2M

LoL;   Starcraft II; CS:GO

Intel Extreme Masters

Riot; Blizzard; Valve

ESL, Intel

March 4-6; Katowice

$500,000

Dota 2

ESL One

Valve

ESL

April 23; Manila

$250,000

CS:GO

ELeague (CS: GO)

Valve

Turner, IMG, WME

May 27 (10 weeks); Summer (10weeks)

$2.4M

Dota 2

ESL One

Valve

ESL

June 18; Frankfurt

$250,000

CS:GO

ESL One

Valve

ESL

July 8; Cologne

$250,000

FIFA

Interactive World Cup

EA

EA Sports FIFA

Summer, 2016

$20,000

COD

World Championship

Activision

Activision

Fall 2016; TBA

$3M

Hearthstone

World Championship

Blizzard

Blizzard

Fall 2016; Blizzcon

$1M

 

And we can expect pretty high viewer numbers for these tournaments as well. Last year online tournament watching repeatedly broke its  own records.  For example, the ESL One CounterStrike tournament last year attracted a record 27 million online viewers online. ( Compare this with the recent USA Super Bowl which broke its own record this year with 3.6 million people watching it online).   2016 is likely to bring new records, even as the sport gets crowded with new tournaments.

 

So turn off the TV and power up your laptop/tablet/mobile phone for these major online events.  And if we've missed one that should be on here, let us know. Additionally, to learn more about what it takes to produce a major sporting event online, see Jason Thibault’s excellent blog:  Super Bowl 2016: What Might We Expect from the Technology?