2020: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Part of the BYOC area at DreamHack Anaheim in February, 2020.
Part of the BYOC area at DreamHack Anaheim in February, 2020.

As we close out 2020, consider putting aside the laptop to take part in the festivities of the holiday season. While our holiday experiences may be different this year, just as most of 2020, one thing remains consistent — our commitment to our gaming community and fans.

As we look back, we remember how this year started with excitement. DreamHack Leipzig got underway in January, and the first-ever DreamHack on the U.S. west coast, DreamHack Anaheim, took place in February. Then the unthinkable happened — the Covid-19 global pandemic escalated and brought much of the world to a halt. Perhaps one of the hardest hit industries (still struggling to operate and recover) was the entertainment industry, from music and sports, to gaming, film, performing arts and more. We managed to produce a very different, but appreciated, audience-free IEM Katowice between February 28 and March 1 before all physical events got shut down. However, both brands, DreamHack and ESL, quickly adjusted to this new reality.

The adaptation and flexibility of our organisation has been key — from the way we transitioned to an online environment, to the way our community responded and supported those changes. But we also adapted internally with our amazing, nimble employees modifying the way we work and amending our new structures mostly from their homes, always accepting and flourishing among these new challenges as a way to contribute even more,” DreamHack Chief Operating Officer Anna Nordlander said in a comment to Esports Insider.

RECORD-BREAKING VIEWERSHIP

As they say, “when the going get tough, the tough get going.” So we began to shift our plans in a way that we could continue to engage with our community in a world with no in-person events for the foreseeable future. Together, we worked to shift all competitions online — allowing our events to proceed with an online audience at a time when most forms of entertainment were shuttered.

The result was immense, such as with viewership numbers for ESL Pro Tour:

  • Hours watched increased by 50% between 2019 and 2020 (Data until Nov 29). We are on track to generate more than 300M hours watched in 2020.
  • More than 1M peak viewers in both 2019 and 2020 (despite no csgo major in 2020)
  • Among our top 10 events, in terms of hours watched, seven were in 2020
  • One hour of live production generates nearly 100,000 hours watched in 2020

“This is a digital audience, a digital fanbase and a digital player base — we are in the entertainment business, so we have to deliver the best product for our communities across the board,” said ESL Gaming Co-CEO Craig Levine. “New technologies and games are continuously evolving and shaping by social habits – look at the growth of platforms like Twitch and TikTok and games like Fortnite.  Together, we are ready to meet and leverage this rapid development. Once we do that, we significantly elevate our possibilities with some of our key  business partners: publisher, brand, and media partners. This is what we mean by moving to the next level.”

ESL GAMING MERGER

ESL + Dreamhack

Even a global pandemic cannot keep us from focusing on moving forward. In September, ESL and DreamHack announced the organizations were merging into ESL Gaming to further accelerate our mission to shape the future of esports and gaming. This combined some of esports' greatest competitions, unique gaming lifestyle festivals and online competitive platforms with an organization that maximizes the value of these properties for gamers, brands and publishers worldwide. Together as ESL Gaming, we will push forward new innovations to serve fans and communities across events, platforms, formats and game titles — from casual to professional levels — in every region around the world. 

“It has been a long and exciting road, but we are really only just beginning. I am sure we will bring forth an experience that not only friends come together for – but families, too,” said ESL Gaming Co-CEO Ralf Reichert. “We want to enable many more gamers to shine, fans to follow and for everyone to be a part of it all. In the meantime, ESL Gaming will continue to do what it does best – take risks, face fresh challenges, focus on virtues, and try to make players happy.”

OUR COMMUNITY

“Staying flexible to this ever-changing environment with a clear community-centric mindset and a suitable organisational structure will be core to our success,” said Fabian Scheuermann, SVP Game Management at ESL Gaming. “Following our brand purpose to create a world ‘where everybody can be somebody,’ we look forward to growing our communities, even more, on a game by game base.”

Whether it’s the ESL Pro Tour, DreamHack Open Featuring Fortnite, DreamHack Tonight broadcasts, online trivia, Discord communications, ESEA, or ESL Play, our community and fans are always the focus of our efforts. Without you, we would not be who we are. Thanks for always having our backs. We see you, and we thank you.

Happy Holidays!