Cologne, Germany – February 2020 - ESL, the world’s largest esports company, wrapped up 2019 with record-breaking numbers, concluding another successful year in esports. ESL conducted numerous online and offline competitions and created live and original esports content across platforms, like Twitch, Youtube, and Facebook. Ahead of the celebration of ESL’s 20th Anniversary in 2020, the company rolled out a completely new brand refresh, which included a new purpose-led brand positioning “ to create a world where everybody can be somebody,” which reflects the company’s values and founding story.
ESL, together with DreamHack, launched ESL Pro Tour CS:GO in 2019, featuring an aggregate prize pool of over $5 million for 2020 from competitions on five different continents, making it the world’s largest and most lucrative circuit in Counter-Strike’s 20-year history. The collaboration aims to create a more complete “zero to hero” path for aspiring players, a more compelling story for existing CS:GO fans to follow, value-added for brands, and a much more transparent structure for new esports fans.
Furthermore, ESL executed the most-watched ESL CS:GO competition ever with IEM Katowice (126 million hours watched in total and therefore a 212% increase in minutes watched compared to 2018) as well as the most successful ESL CS:GO competition on US soil viewership-wise with ESL One New York (6.6M hours watched and almost 20M video views, both excl. China). ESL events were broadcast in a total of 24 languages with 26 linear partners and 10 digital partners. Spearheading this distribution was IEM Katowice, which was broadcasted in 20 languages.
Overall, the ESL CS:GO tournaments concluded in 141.6M hours watched total combined with DreamHack competitions. Across the ESL CS:GO & Dota 2 Tours in 2019, 181.3M watched hours were generated.
History was made at ESL One Cologne when Team Liquid beat Team Vitality in ESL One Grand Final in front of a capacity crowd of 15,000, completing the 1,000,000 USD Intel Grand Slam in record time (63 days). The Intel Grand Slam is a prize of $1,000,000 to the first team that wins four tournaments organized by ESL or DreamHack Masters during a window of 10 consecutive events. The CS:GO world was able to see a “Zero to Hero” storyline as well with ENCE making it to the Katowice Finals all the way from open qualifiers, upsetting some of the very best teams worldwide and creating an intriguing arc for the audience and fans, further cementing the fact that the CS:GO circuit will continue to be a big story for the future.
Throughout the year, ESL had over 327,000 live visitors at their competitions and distributed 4,950,000 USD in prize pools for all its tournaments combined -- dominating the live events space and holding competitions at world-renowned stadiums, like Barclays Center, LANXESS arena, Spodek arena and Barclaycard Arena amongst many others. With IEM Beijing, the first standalone event in China was orchestrated.
ESL finished the year having almost 9.5 million total registered users on ESL Play (an increase of 11% to last year), once again bringing players together on a truly global level and marking a peak growth since its start. Consumption/Watch time for ESLs major leagues and tournaments grew by 170% compared to 2018.
Further records were reached with ESL global tournaments, including ESL One Birmingham (most-watched ESL Dota event ever, 54 million watched hours), ESL Pro League Season 9 (most-watched EPL finals ever, 31million watched hours), and ESL One Cologne (most-watched non-major CS tournament of all time, 37 million watched hours).
With the new brand refresh in 2019, the company also updated its image with a new award-winning, stand out identity and a new brand architecture for its tournaments and leagues (Masters, Challenger and Open). It highlighted the company values and supports the strategy to continue leading the esports industry. The new brand positioning reflects the ESL vision of growth of esports and to build leagues and tournaments for gamers that would create more opportunities for participation and progression than any other sport.
Mobile esports, already representing a promising future, kicked off with the ESL Mobile Open Presented by AT&T in the United States and the Vodafone 5G ESL Mobile Open in Milan. The competition in Milan was the first Grand Final in competitive esports to be played out live over a 5G network and featured a total prize pool of €165,000. Mobile esports will be further building a bridge between hardcore esports enthusiasts and casual gamers and thus, will enjoy an even wider rise in 2020, so Mobile Gaming will be a big focus in the new year for ESL.
During 2019, ESL also advanced its corporate social responsibility plan, spearheading initiatives that align with ESL’s brand purpose “to create a world where everybody can be somebody,” In connection to that, ESL has launched four pillars:
- Diversity and inclusion with AnyKey’s “Good Luck, Have Fun” pledge to reach 1 million signatures;
- Integrity with ESIC and ESL’s work on fair play and esports standards
- Smart Gaming with sponsorship of the largest study on gaming disorders in partnership with two renowned UK and German universities
- Gaming for Good, where ESL partnered with official charity partner, Gamers Outreach, to help bring gaming to hospitals to help children cope with treatments.
ESL continued to execute onsite brand activations throughout the year, partnering with some of the most recognizable non-endemic brands, including Intel, Pepsi, Mercedes Benz, Vodafone, AT&T, DHL, McDonalds, Euronics, Pringles, Acer and many more.
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ESL is the world’s largest esports company. Founded in 2000, ESL has been shaping the industry across the most popular video games with numerous online and offline esports competitions. The company operates high profile, branded international leagues and tournaments under the ESL Pro Tour including ESL One, Intel® Extreme Masters, ESL Pro League, and other premier stadium-size events, to more clearly define the path from zero to hero. ESL also produces the ESL National Championships, grassroots amateur cups, and matchmaking systems, creating a world where everybody can be somebody. With offices all over the world, ESL is leading esports innovation on a global scale through the combination of global ESL competitions, amateur leagues, publisher activations, and more. ESL is a part of MTG, the leading international digital entertainment group. about.eslgaming.com