2020 – We hit 10 million members in ESL! This year came with unforeseen challenges as the world was upheaved by a global pandemic. Tournaments and events were adjusted to meet the ever-changing health risks and global situation. IEM Katowice 2020 became the first event in 2020 to be played without a live audience and ESL Pro League S11 Finals were cancelled due to Covid. All other tournament stops for the rest of the year were adapted to be played online. Even though the live atmosphere was sorely missed, fans could still tune in and enjoy world-class esports from the comfort of their own homes.
In an effort to fight Covid, ESL partnered with Gamers Without Borders to host the biggest ever charity event which spanned over seven weeks. The online event welcomed world’s elite-level gamers, who competed to win shares of the series’ $10m prize fund for coronavirus charities including UNICEF, Direct Relief and Gavi. The event united more than 300,000 gamers from 82 countries, and the charity money was used for relief efforts such as buying massive amounts of protective gear and equipment and shipping it to healthcare staff around the world.
New ESL Pro Tour formats for both StarCraft II and Warcraft III: Reforged were launched in a partnership with Blizzard, providing a respective prize pool of over $1.8 million and over $200,000 for the first season. Taking over from the StarCraft II World Championship Series, the ESL Pro Tour will feature tournaments on a minimum of four different continents with the global finals moving from BlizzCon to IEM Katowice.
Before the year comes to a close, ESL and DreamHack join forces in an exciting merger! The people working behind at ESL and DreamHack share the same passion with over two decades of experience, and by bringing our worlds together, we will push forward new innovations to engage with fans and communities across all of our events, platforms, formats and game titles — from gaming as lifestyle to professional levels — in every region around the world!