Video game competitions have come a long way since the old-school LAN parties of the 1990s and small-time contests at the local arcade. Nowadays, the esports industry is worth well over $1 billion, and experts estimate that number to nearly double by 2022.
Esports tournaments produce intense competition and thrilling gameplay across thousands of video games. These dedicated communities consist of professional players, seasoned coaches, flamboyant commentators and millions of diehard fans all across the world.
Read our in-depth article to learn all you need to know about the most important esports, tournaments and platforms of 2021. We've also included recommendations where you can stream esports live, so you can follow all the esports action as it happens.
Finally, learn where to make real-money bets on esports tournaments and enhance the excitement of the next video gaming event you watch even further!
Where to Bet on Esports Tournaments
What Are the Biggest Esports Tournaments of 2021?
The first official tournament of esports (before such a word even existed) took place in 1972 at Stanford University. Participants went head-to-head in the ‘Intergalactic Spacewar! Olympics', competing for the grand prize of a one-year subscription to Rolling Stone magazine, as well as to obtain bragging rights as champion of the first-ever video game tournament.
Since that time, esports have steadily grown to become one of the most popular competitive events in the world today. Tens of thousands of professional and semi-professional players regularly broadcast their competitive gameplay to millions of viewers worldwide.
And while the pandemic of 2020 severely reduced the number of in-person sporting events, many sports fans turned to esports tournaments, further increasing their popularity. These days, League of Legends, CS:GO and Dota 2 – commonly known as the ‘Big Three' – tend to dominate the sphere of esports competitions.
However, there are plenty other popular and exciting video game competitions that are held year-round. Read on to learn more about the most important video gaming tournaments of 2021, as well as the best esports betting sites where you can place real-money bets on all the action.
League of Legends World Championship
Arguably the most popular esport in the world, League of Legends (also known as LoL) is about as serious and as high-stakes as any other sporting event.
With peak viewership of 3.8 million spectators in 2020 and an esports tournament prize pool of over $6.4 million in 2018, the League of Legends World Championship is unmatched in popularity across the globe.
We expect the LoL Worlds 2021 to be equally as exciting, with some of the best players and teams of all time competing for the championship title. Then, numerous LoL leagues compete throughout the year in their own esports tournaments to determine who gets a chance to compete on the world stage.
These League of Legends esports leagues include:
- League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK Betting)
- League of Legends Pro League (LPL Betting)
- League of Legends Championship Series (LCS Betting)
- LoL European Championship (LEC Betting)
- LoL All Stars
- LoL MSI Betting
Like with other major sporting events, the LoL fantasy league immerses you even deeper into the action, allowing you to compete locally against friends or other fantasy team owners around the world.
CS:GO PGL Major Championship Stockholm
Counter Strike: Global Offensive is a team-based tactical shooter that requires skill, teamwork and lightning-fast reflexes to emerge victorious. This game became an international sensation shortly after its initial release in 2012, and remains one of the ‘Big Three' esports gaming competitions to this day.
Despite a lull in competitive gameplay due to the pandemic, CS:GO tournaments in 2021 seem poised to reach all-time highs in both viewership and prize pool money. The PGL Major Championship, set to begin on 23 October in Stockholm, Sweden, features a record-breaking $2,000,000 grand prize.
In addition to this major video game competition hosted by PGL (Professional Gaming League), you can find a huge variety of other big CS:GO tournaments to bet on in 2021. The ELEAGUE, the ESL Pro Tour and the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) all host major competitions for numerous esports year round.
Read our guides on IEM Katowice betting , DreamHack Masters as well as IEM Beijing betting to get started. Then check out our Betway esports review or GGbet review to see how you can claim your CS:GO esports welcome bonus.
Dota 2 Pro Circuit
Defense of the Ancients 2, better known as Dota 2, is the third of the ‘Big Three' esports competitions, and often the most lucrative of all.
This game has been known to host some of the largest esports prize pools in history, with the Dota 2 International 2019 in Shanghai, China tallying over $34 million!
While the exact details remain unconfirmed, rumours abound that The International 10’s prize pool could top $40,000,000 – making it the largest esports tournaments prize pool in history.
Alongside the renowned International, Dota 2 competitions take place throughout the year and across the world. Keep an eye out for esports tournaments from DreamLeague and ESL One, as well as the ONE Esports Singapore Major, all of which promise seriously exciting Dota 2 action.
Learn how to start making real money wagers on Dota 2 by reading our 1xBet review, where you’ll find the best betting tips for such video game tournaments.
FIFA eChampions League
As such, the FIFA eChampions League (eCL) is definitely a premier video gaming event to watch in 2021, with an esports tournament prize pool of $280,000 set to be awarded to the winning team.
Additional competitions take place both online and offline all year long, with eLaLiga 2021 and the FIFAe World Cup attracting thousands of players and millions of viewers from every corner of the globe.
To read more about FIFA esports betting, head over to our Unikrn esports review to find the best betting markets for numerous esports tournaments.
StarCraft II Legacy of the Void Tournaments
Created in 1998, StarCraft was one of the original competitive esports tournaments, with syndicated gameplay taking place as early as 2003.
The most important StarCraft II gaming event of 2021 to keep an eye out for is the DH SC2 Masters 2021 Summer: Season Finals, organised by DreamHack. Check out our Pinnacle review to find the the best odds for StarCraft II video game tournaments.
In addition to the above-mentioned esports tournaments, you’ll also find professional esports events for all kinds of different esports games. You can read more about these games, and find the best esports betting sites to make your first wagers, by following the links below:
- Apex Legends
- Arena of Valor
- Halo 5
- HoTS (Heroes of the Storm)
- King of Glory
- NBA 2K
- Overwatch (with its Overwatch League)
- PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG)
- Rainbow Six: Siege
- Street Fighter V
- Valorant (with its Valorant Champions Tour)
- World of Tanks (WOT)
- World of Warcraft
Note: If you prefer playing on the go, we also have a separate guide to mobile esports.
How to Keep Up with Competitive Video Game Tournaments
At first, it may seem daunting to keep up with all the different esports leagues and gaming events – especially if you don’t know how or where to start.
However, whether you are an experienced esports punter or just a beginner, there are many resources that can help you stay up-to-date.
Most esports tournaments and organisations do a great job of keeping fans informed of future events, team roster changes, patches/updates that could change gameplay and more.
Below are the best ways to follow all the most important developments in the world of video game tournaments.
Esports Tournament Apps
Perhaps the easiest and most convenient way to follow esports competitions is by downloading one or multiple esports apps.
That way, you can track gaming tournaments, read esports news and stream professional matches all from the palm of your hand.
Some esports apps are best suited for general esports information, others for news and others for in-depth tourney tracking. Here are our top three esports tournament apps for 2021:
- eForce Esports: Billing itself as a “single entry point to the esports world”, the popular eForce mobile app is clean, simple and very easy to use. While suitable for novices and experts alike, this mobile application may nevertheless lack the depth of other more sophisticated esport tournaments applications. However, we enjoy its straightforward interface and comprehensive search functionality, which allow you to access virtually any major esport event.
- Strafe: Strafe’s greatest success as an esports mobile application is its personalised news feed. The developers have programmed an algorithm that tailors the latest stories and developments on esport tournaments, which then arrive right to your homepage. With detailed esport event information and easily-accessible tournament lineups, you can quickly dive into all sorts of esports data right at your fingertips. The main drawback for this esports app would be its limited number of supported games. So, if you’re after more niche gaming tournaments, another app may be better.
- Upcomer: The Upcomer brand and esports mobile app calls itself “the past, the present and the future” of esports. We find it most useful for tracking esports tournaments. This application offers a sleek interface with creative bracket designs to keep you engaged and informed. We recommend this esports tournament app for those punters who like to track many different gaming events at one time.
If you enjoy betting on the go, refer to our complete guide to esports betting apps.
Gaming Competitions Statistics
Statistics are important for understanding the nuances of any professional sporting event, and video game competitions are no different. There’s virtually no end to the different kinds of stats out there, especially considering that each esports game produces data based on its unique gameplay.
However, in general, tracking the stats of players and teams over the course of a season can help you predict how they’ll perform in upcoming esports events.
Esports Charts is currently the most comprehensive resource for studying and tracking esports tournaments. Filter by team, player, league or by tournament to find the information you need.
Then, study those statistics to make smart betting decisions that can result in better outcomes overall.
Streaming via Twitch and YouTube
Thanks to the rise of the so-called Digital Age and the internet in general, it is now easier than ever to stream movies, television shows and especially esports tournaments.
Whether you prefer to watch on your mobile device, tablet or desktop, esports streams give you a front seat to the action – often with commentary too!
The best places to stream esports tournaments live are:
- Twitch.tv: Twitch is something like an endless, virtual pay-per-view directory – but the best part is, you don’t even need to pay! As such, it has become the world’s leading platform for streaming video game tournaments. Millions of fans from all over the world tune in to watch the hottest esports events, broadcast live by their favourite streamers and leagues. One example is the League of Legends Live Stream – 3.8 million viewers watched the LoL Worlds 2020 via Twitch's livestream.
- YouTube: YouTube makes a great companion to live Twitch streams. On YouTube, you can often find match analyses and tournament predictions to enhance your understanding of the game in question. These videos are typically produced by professional players/streamers, league commentators, esports analysts or even esports betting sites themselves.
Finally, streaming video game tournaments is a must if you’re considering live betting. This is a fast-paced betting mode in which you make split-second wagers on esports matches in real time.
To learn more, read our guide to live esports betting and stake your live wager on esports tournaments today!
Esports Tournaments Earnings
As professional video game competitions grow in popularity, so do the prizes offered. Esports tournaments prize pool money can vary widely depending on the game, the region and the size of the tournament itself.
Many smaller local tournaments award just a few hundred dollars or euros – or less – to first-place winners. Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Dota 2’s The International tournament regularly features a prize pool worth tens of millions of dollars.
In 2011, one StarCraft II tournament even awarded 25 bitcoins to some of its losing players, worth only $25 at that time. At the time of writing, that consolation prize would now be worth more than $1.2 million.
As you can see, esports tournaments’ prize pools can be very lucrative. Some players, like N0tail and JerAx, have both won nearly $7 million playing video games. However, the money involved can also just be an extra incentive to test your skills against friends.
Here are the esports tournaments with the largest prize pools in history.
|Rank||Esports Tournament||Total Prize Pool||Esport||Number of Teams||Number of Players|
|1.||The International 2019||$34,330,069.00||Dota 2||18||90|
|2.||The International 2018||$25,532,177.00||Dota 2||18||90|
|3.||The International 2017||$24,687,919.00||Dota 2||18||90|
|4.||The International 2016||$20,770,460.00||Dota 2||16||80|
|5.||The International 2015||$18,429,613.05||Dota 2||16||80|
|6.||Fortnite World Cup Finals 2019 – Solo||$15,287,500.00||Fortnite||N/A||100|
|7.||Fortnite World Cup Finals 2019 – Duo||$15,100,000.00||Fortnite||50||100|
|8.||The International 2014||$10,931,103.00||Dota 2||14||70|
|9.||LoL 2018 World Championship||$6,450,000.00||League of Legends||24||131|
|10.||LoL 2016 World Championship||$5,070,000.00||League of Legends||16||86|
To learn more about professional video gaming prize pools, visit Esports Earnings. They offer a comprehensive, searchable index that you can filter by game, team, tournament, player and more. There is also a list of esports earnings here.
Esports Tournaments Platforms
While streaming services and stats sites can help you keep up with professional video gaming, esports tournament platforms let you try your hand at actually participating in those events.
Each day, there are thousands of gaming events with real cash prizes awarded to the winner, no matter if you’re an amateur or semi-professional. So, if you’re a serious gamer looking to turn your passion into a career, check out the following platforms for video game tournaments.
Battlefy has been hosting and facilitating esports events since 2013. This platform is very straightforward, offering hundreds of gaming tournaments for over 40,000 games. You can even organise your own tournaments for free, with game-specific features and a variety of tourney formats.
The major potential downside of Battlefy is that their video game competitions do not provide prizes. Therefore, players looking for cash awards may want to consider other esports platforms.
Another popular community for esports tournaments is GameBattles. As one of the major pieces of the MLG (Major League Gaming) network, GameBattles hosts serious video gaming competitions throughout the year. They largely fall into three main categories: Ladders, Tournaments and Leagues.
By and large, GameBattles focuses its efforts on Call of Duty competitions, with offerings for 18 different CoD titles.
However, they also offer tourneys for other games such as Hearthstone and Overwatch. These range from amateur to semi-pro, all the way up to high-stakes professional play.
As such, we recommend GameBattles for experienced video gamers looking to seed into professional MLG tournaments.
Rounding out our list of the top esports tournament platforms is Toornament. This platform has partnered with many major game developers, including Riot Games and Nintendo, to provide simple and user-friendly competitions.
Toornament hosts innumerable tournaments across 454 games, spanning prize pools of just a couple bucks to well into the tens of thousands. By far the best platform for aspiring esports organisers, it offers comprehensive, in-depth guides for hosting, as well as excellent customer support.
In addition to the above, Toornament has designed a unique tournament engine that can support up to 4,096 players in a single esports gaming event. With advanced player management and modules technology, there’s truly no limit to the possibilities of hosting esports tournaments through this site.
Esports Tournaments FAQs
Is it legal to bet on gaming competitions?
Yes! It is perfectly legal to bet on esports tournaments, so long as you are of legal age and make honest bets. Always be sure to verify the licence of any esports operator in order to ensure that they can legally operate in your country.
Can I make money betting on video game tournaments?
Yes, it is very possible to make money betting on video games and esport tournaments. Odds – and their respective payouts – can vary depending on the game and esports betting site.
How does esports tournament betting work?
Esports betting is very simple.
To make bets on esports tournaments, all you need to do is sign up at a legitimate esportsbook and make your first deposit. (Don’t forget to claim your welcome bonus!) Then, read up on your favourite team(s) to see how they’ve performed recently and who they’re up against next.
Finally, all that’s left is to choose your gaming events, select your betting markets and make your first wagers. Now you can sit back, relax and enjoy the thrilling action of esports competitions!
What is the best website for esports betting?
You can find all the best betting sites for betting on esports tournaments right here on our site. We’ve done the research to find all the top odds and most generous welcome bonuses, so that you don’t have to. Read our MyBookie esports review or EnergyBet review to get started!
Are esports an actual sport?
Yes, esports are a real, official sport! All the top esports, including League of Legends, Dota 2 and CS:GO, have major and minor leagues, international esports tournaments with huge prize pools, and even strict diet and training regiments.
Where can I watch video game tournaments?
You can watch esports tournaments in many places, but we recommend Twitch.tv and YouTube. The former offers live streaming of virtually any video gaming tournament, and the latter is a great resource for community, esports analysis and match commentary.
What are the top esports leagues?
The top esports leagues are largely game-dependent. However, there are numerous leagues that facilitate esports events in various games. These include the PGL, the ELEAGUE and the ESL Pro Tour.
What is the biggest esport tournament prize pool of all time?
At the time of writing, the largest prize pool of all esports tournaments in history was awarded by Dota 2 The International 2019, which distributed a mind-boggling $34,330,068 USD between 18 teams.