By Pavo Jurkic
January 10, 2020
Today, we’re going to talk about the biggest 2020 esports events! The first week of 2020 is behind us. It’s time to come to terms that we’re not going to fulfill our New Year’s resolution and get back to work. And work, we will!
2019 was splendid as far as esports events are concerned. We’ve witnessed plenty of spectacles across multiple titles and genres, pushing the esports industry to new heights and projecting better things to come in 2020.
Is that going to be the case?
Well, if we take a closer look at the number of esports events that have already announced for 2020, it’s safe to say the esports industry isn’t going anywhere!
What’s the point of writing about the biggest 2020 esports events, though? Are there any new names, or is it the same old list featuring LoL Worlds, The Internationals and stuff like that?
Well, surprisingly enough, there’s a handful of new events promising to shake up the scene. For starters, the inaugural Call of Duty League starts soon and aims to become the next big thing in esports. Additionally, Fortnite World Cup ought to be coming back after a $30 million event last summer.
I guess PUBG and Rainbow Six Invitational can be placed in the new category, too. They’ve been around before, but they haven’t been that prominent. As PUBG and Rainbow Six Siege continue to grow, their biggest events deserve more recognition.
With all that in mind, let’s check out the 10 biggest 2020 esports events!
The inaugural season of Call of Duty League starts on January 24, with 12 franchised teams that bought their spots last year. There’s a massive amount of money involved in the league, meaning the inaugural season will be under heavy scrutiny.
The real question is, will the inaugural Call of Duty League season meet the expectations of people involved with it, either through brand deals, direct investments or advertisements? Well, there’s roughly seven months ahead of us that’ll get to paint the full picture.
Another year, another League of Legends World Championship. Commonly referred to as LoL Worlds, this is the bread and butter of Riot Games’ competitive season. It pins together the best teams from all regions and breaks viewership records every year.
The prize pools are going down, that’s true, but it’s nothing to be alarmed about. Riot Games is keeping LoL’s competitive sphere in perfect state with healthy ecosystems across the board that guarantees long term stability without the need for promotions with massive prize pools.
LoL Worlds 2020 takes place in Shanghai at the glorious Shanghai Stadium, which seats more than 55,000 people. The start date hasn’t been officially announced, but we expect it to be somewhere around October, just like the previous iterations. One thing is for sure, LoL Worlds 2020 is going to break records this year as well!
The International 2020 is going to feast another esports spectacle, just like LoL Worlds 2020. Despite the fact The Internationals aren’t the biggest esports events viewership-wise, they certainly are in terms of prize money. Need I remind you, The International 2019 was just short of $35 million in prize pool money. Yep, that’s the current prize pool record in the esports world.
Judging by recent statistics, The International 2020 could easily surpass that number. It’s all thanks to Valve’s crowdfunding campaign. It gives 25% of all Battle Pass sales straight to the prize pool. LoL Worlds tried a similar concept, just like several other esports event organizers, but none came close to The International’s success.
As for the event itself, it starts on August 18 with18 best Dota 2 teams based on their Pro Circuit and qualifiers’ performance. The event takes place in Stockholm, Sweden, at the Ericsson Globe arena.
As always, the Major Championships are the most important competitions in CS:GO’s competitive ecosystem. However, 2020 brings forth a ton of competition, featuring new BLAST Premier events as well as a potent ESL One Cologne event scheduled for July.
Still, CS:GO Majors have that unique charm, especially the first one of 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It’s the first-ever CS:GO Major in Brazil. Knowing the quantity of Brazilian (and South American in general) CS:GO fans, we can expect a proper spectacle from start to finish.
The ESL One Rio spectacle starts on May 11 and will feature the usual CS:GO Major format with 24 teams going through three stages of the event. As for the second CS:GO Major of 2020, the organizer hasn’t announced it yet, but it will start at the beginning of November, more precisely November 2.
Shortly before the start of The International 2019, Fortnite World Cup had the highest prize pool in the history of esports with $30 million on the line. Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf won $3 million in the solos portion of the event.
At the time of writing, Fortnite World Cup 2020 hasn’t been announced yet. However, considering the never-ending popularity of Epic Games’ colorful battle royale title, not featuring Fortnite World Cup 2020 would be a massive surprise.
Next up, we have Rocket League Championship Series, RLCS from now on. Psyonix’s soccer meets racing esports has an immensely dedicated community. The growing viewership trends and prize pools are there to further spice things up.
RLCS events are biannual. The ninth RLCS season starting on February 1. Recently, after Epic Games Store acquired Psyonix (and Rocket League), there have been talks about RLCS switching to a closed-off, franchised system. While it probably won’t happen in 2020, the first 2021 season might show off a franchised system.
Be that as it is, Rocket League Championship Series is moving up in the world. There’s plenty of hardcore Rocket League fans who can’t wait for the RLCS S9 action to kick off next month.
PUBG Global Championship has been around since 2017, although it went with a different name back then: PUBG Global Invitational. Last year’s iteration was dubbed as PUBG Global Championship, marking the next step for the highly popular battle royale game with $4 million in prize money.
PUBG esports will feature four major events in 2020. That includes three PUBG Global Series events which serve as qualifications for the season’s pinnacle. As always, we can expect PUBG Global Championship to be a proper spectacle, featuring some of the best players and teams out there. The season kicks off in April with PGS Berlin. The additional two PGS events are scheduled for July and October, while PUBG Global Championship 2020 is scheduled for November.
The first esports endeavors of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege were in 2016. Since then, the game evolved and now sports a sophisticated competitive ecosystem that can go toe-to-toe with the greatest esports titles. That said, it’s not surprising to see R6’s prime event, the Rainbow Six Invitational, among the biggest esports events in 2020.
We already know a fair bit of info on the upcoming Rainbow Six Invitational 2020. For instance, it starts on February 7 and will last for nine days. It will feature 16 best R6 teams, 15 of which we already know. There’s one invitation left. We’re pretty sure it will be filled in the next week or so.
Overwatch League is approaching its third season. The crème de la crème of franchised esports is coming back with $5 million in prize money and kicks off on February 8. What started as an interesting experiment with franchising in esports, evolved into one of the most prominent esports events out there.
The third Overwatch League season will feature 20 franchised teams representing cities all across the world. The fan involvement is massive. There’s also a ton of sponsorship deals and investment money involved.
Overwatch League, commonly referred to as OWL, is not backing down. Better yet, it continues to show what a well-executed franchised system can achieve in the esports sphere.
Thus far, we’ve only covered esports events that are considered the bread and butter of some of the biggest esports titles out there. WESG, however, brings a different deal to the table. At the start of every year, World Electronic Sports Games (WESG from now on) showcase several esports titles, pinning teams against each other for hefty prize pools.
But, instead of featuring traditional esports logos/banners, WESG is all about that national rivalry. You can think of WESG as sort of like the World Cup of esports. WESG 2019 (yep, WESG 2019 is the name of the event that scheduled for March 2020) will feature some of the most popular esports titles like StarCraft II, Dota 2 and CS:GO. There’s more, but these three are by far the most notable specimens.
You might wonder what makes these the most prominent esports events in 2020. Well, let’s put it this way. In 2019, projections show esports had more than 450 million unique viewers. All these events (except Call of Duty League) made up for quite a portion of the total. In addition to massive viewership, these events are also the bread and butter of their games’ competitive seasons.
LoL Worlds is the biggest League of Legends spectacle. The International is the biggest Dota 2 spectacle, and so on. I’m sure you get the point. These esports events are what’s driving the competitive ecosystems of the biggest esports titles, which makes them the most prominent specimens.
On top of all that, they’re also the most lucrative esports tournaments too. The likes of Fortnite World Cup and The International racked in more than $64 million combined. To put things into perspective, the total prize pool money in all of esports in 2019 amounts to $215 million, which just goes to show you the scale of the duo as mentioned above.