2014 – Electronic Sports League rebranded into ESL. We also saw significant milestones in esports, raising the prestige of events with new venues, and breaking viewership records.
ESL took Counter-Strike: Global Offensive to the big stage and finished its first 2014 EMS Season with a $250,000 tournament in the Spodek arena at the Intel Extreme Masters venue in Katowice.
The shared $500,000 prize pool for the IEM Season 8 Finals & the EMS One CS:GO Finals set a new prize money record for a European esports event and drew massive crowds to the 11,500 capacity stadium. EMS One Katowice was also ESL’s first Valve sponsored and community founded CS:GO Major tournament.
Following the success of Katowice, the first ESL One CS:GO event came to Cologne as another Valve major. It was played at Gamescom, a massive digital and gaming trade fair, in the Cologne Exhibition Centre.
ESL One Dota kicked off in Frankfurt, where it was the first time ever an esports event was played in a world cup football stadium with a capacity of more than 35,000. Having a football stadium venue provided multiple assets – private VIP boxes for the players, their management and guests, a press conference room, an exclusive area for premium fans, etc.
This was the first step of ESL’s expansion into Dota and the trend would continue to this day, visiting new cities across the world.
- The Train map was removed for ESL One Cologne, while Cache, Overpass, and Cobblestone were added. Overpass was released by Valve only a month before the tournament, and the decision to add a new map with such short notice and at a Major event caused some controversy.
- EMS One Katowice 2014 reached an all time viewership peak for a CS event. An unprecedented 3.5 million hours watched and over 6.2 million sessions were recorded!
- ESL One New York was played in Madison Square Garden, an indoor arena that is home to the New York Knicks and New York Rangers.