2003 – ESL hit a new record of 400,000 members, after the introduction of Counter-Strike and Warcraft III ladders in the league.
With so many new members, the first official ESL T-shirt was made and ESL Shop was launched online. Fans now had a platform to buy gaming merchandise. To date, ESL Shop offers not only its own line of apparel and collectibles, but also a huge selection of team merchandise from various esports brands, and worldwide shipping to fans.
The ESL Pro Series continued to offer large prize pools in Counter-Strike 1.5 with €33,500 in Season II, and EPS €19,000 in Season III. Two top matches of the EPS were played at a LAN event called Intel Friday Night Games (abbr. IFNG) in Hamburg, at the well-known Seaways Terminal. The impressive backdrop of passing tankers and container ships truly made it a brand new experience for the players and fans.
2003 was the same year that iFNG went on tour and stopped at multiple cities in Germany, including Berlin, Cologne, and Munich. It featured Warcraft III 2v2 and Counter-Strike 5v5 tournaments played to a live audience.