Esports Tournaments to look out for in 2021

The Esports industry has had to improvise and adapt in a lot of ways to thrive in the ongoing COVID pandemic. So many usual fixtures in the tournament circuits were postponed or cancelled last year, and the excitement of big, live events seems like a thing of the past. Despite the trials and tribulations of the global crisis, the industry is still reporting a lot of financial growth – probably because everyone was stuck at home with nothing better to do than watch games all day –  and it seems to be in an excellent position to return to form now that vaccinations are being rolled out en masse in a lot of countries. 


What’s on the horizon in 2021? Last year saw the cancellation of big mainstays like the CS:GO Major and DOTA 2’s International. Both of those events are slated for a return this year, but given all the postponements in 2020, fans might be finding it a little bit hard to get their hopes up. There’s a ton of big tournaments in the pipeline, and the future looks bright – let’s run through some of this year’s biggest upcoming tournaments. 


That’s right, DOTA 2’s premier event is making a return this year, eighteen teams facing off for a tremendous prize pool of over thirty million dollars. It doesn’t have a date, but it’s suspected to be hosted in Stockholm, Sweden. Before the cancellation of the 2020 International, Valve put out an open call to cities around the world, asking for applications to host the 11th tournament. Considering that the 11th tournament will technically be taking place a year later now, it’s a safe bet this year’s event will be taking place in Stockholm’s prestigious Globen venue. 


Riot revealed in January that this year’s host city for the LoL World Championship Finals would be Shenzhen, China. COVID robbed the League tournament circuit of a lot of energy last year, but they’re hoping to return to form in 2021, starting in China. Riot Games’ Global Head of Esports, John Needham said “After a year full of unexpected challenges, amazing competition, and major milestones for our sport, we’re looking forward to a season that should be even more thrilling. It’s only fitting that we return to China, home to our biggest league and tens of millions of longtime fans, to produce the world’s highest-calibre esports event in one of China’s most innovative cities.”

Needham also spoke of League’s mobile counterpart, Wild Rift, and their plans to develop an esports structure for it. The game is still in beta, but they intend to take this year to “experiment and learn” before setting down any formal plans. In Southeast Asia, tournaments are already planned, expected to take place later this year. 


Another regular event scuppered by the COVID pandemic, the FIFAe World Cup has run almost every single year since 2004. It has a slightly unique format in that the qualifying stages are held online, allowing millions of players to compete, and this is why the Guinness book of World Records recognises the event as the largest esports game in the world. There’s a lot of money to play for, not to mention the glory of being the world’s top player out of millions of candidates. Interestingly enough betting site adapted using games like FIFA and Madden last year, running odds on simulated matches using them. 


CS:GO is one of esport’s biggest titles, and while we patiently wait for more details on a 2021 Major, the competition rages on in the Intel Extreme Masters. Season XV of their world championships takes place in Katowice, Poland, and eight of the world’s best teams have already qualified for the main group stage. FaZe Clan, Astralis, Team Vitality, Na’Vi and G2 Esports take up six of the main spots, representing the very best of Europe’s teams, rounded out by top North American competitors, Evil Geniuses and FURIA Esports. 

Sixteen more teams will compete – including favourites like Fnatic and Team Liquid – from around the world. Eventually eight teams from this group will remain, and they’ll join the main group stage for a chance at the $1 million dollar prize.

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