It's been a busy week for Overwatch players and the like as they battle it out the first OWL season. League for other titles, including League of Legends, have yet to start and so we're holding off until the first matches go live. That said, it was a blinder of a result for Blizzard as they pulled in millions of viewers, which is likely to be repeated by Riot Games once LCS starts. 2018 is looking to be a big year for eSports.
Overwatch hitting the numbers
It was a massive week for Overwatch, pulling in around 10 million fans to see new season take place. The most popular games were between Dallas Fuel and Seoul Dynasty, which was a blinder of a series. The good news for us Brits is that London Spitfire isn't doing too badly, sitting in the third position with a game in hand on both Seoul Dynasty and New York Excelsior.
Tickets to watch the games in the audience were sold out quickly too, which bolds well for teams looking to expand the number of seats available. London Spitfire is even rumored to be taking full advantage of Tottenham Hotspur's upcoming 60,000 seater stadium. If teams are able to represent their location in buildings such as that and sell enough tickets, it would certainly bring eSports closer to traditional sports with the atmosphere of a large crowd.
Stay up-to-date with the OWL schedule using the official website.
League of Legends LCS well underway
The LCS in Europe and North America kicked off this week, alongside the new Academy League. This season is also the test bed for the new franchising system, which will allow teams to become more like traditional sports organizations, allowing them to develop talent over a long period and work in plans for the future. There are now only ten organizations in the LCS, including Cloud9, TSM, Counter Logic Gaming, and Team Liquid.
PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds isn't a familiar name in the eSports world simply because the game isn't quite ready for live events. That hasn't halted companies like Curse from starting up their own tournaments. The Curse Trials for squads are set to take place on January 24 and 25 for four groups, with a final scheduled in on January 26. This will be the first tournament held by Curse and Alienware for 2018.
Intel and ESL are also arranging an invitational in Katowice, Poland which will take place on February 24 - 25. The IEM Expo will invite 16 teams (64 players) to battle it out for a chance at winning $50,000. Nearly 1,000 teams have signed up and qualifiers kicked off this weekend. As we see more coverage of professional PUBG tournaments, it'll be easier to see the development of the game as an eSport and see if it'll have a future against other titles.
Facebook buys CS:GO and Dota 2 broadcast rights
In further proof of the ever-growing mainstream appeal of esports, Facebook has purchased the broadcast rights to ESL's top tier CS:GO and Dota 2 competitions, the Pro League and ESL One majors.
"For years ESL has used Facebook to nurture its global community while broadening the audience for esports competition to millions of fans worldwide," said Leo Olebe, Global Director, Facebook Games Partnerships. "Having two of ESL's most adored properties for CS:GO and Dota 2 streaming exclusively on Facebook is the next step in our efforts to delight the passionate esports community on Facebook. The ability to now watch esports in 1080p and in VR underscores our commitment to adding more ways for fans to watch and connect with each other around the esports content they love most."
Fans won't be forced to use Facebook to enjoy the events, however, with ESL's own websites also hosting the streams. Check out the full release below for more.
Call of Duty World League
The Call of Duty World League action isn't slowing down anytime soon, but there has emerged a clear top team the rest are chasing. Following a win at the first major of the year in Dallas, Team Kaliber went back-to-back by claiming the CWL New Orleans title this past week and $80,000 in prize money.
The next stop is the CWL Pro League Stage 1 which begins on January 23. The global LAN league will be hosted in the U.S. and will feature the top ten North American teams, top five from Europe and the top team from the APAC region. Across the league and playoffs, the total prize fund for Stage One sits at a whopping $700,000.
ESL UK and IE Rainbow Six Premiership exclusively on Xbox One
Sure, it's a local league for UK and Ireland Rainbow Six: Siege players, but the ESL Premiership is playing out exclusively on Xbox One. And we love that.
Tune in every Monday at 6pm on Twitch for the best Rainbow 6 Siege action in the UK exclusively on Xbox One! The best 8 teams from the UK and Ireland will battle it out across 6 thrilling weeks of games to find the best teams for the Live Finals at ESL Studio One in Leicester on the 10th and 11th of March.
Check it out every Monday from 6 p.m. GMT (1 p.m. ET) on the ESL Rainbow Six Twitch channel.
Upcoming live events
- Call of Duty Pro League Stage One - Starts January 23, watch on Twitch or at MLG.com
- Gears of War Pro Circuit Mexico City - January 26 - January 28, watch on Mixer or Twitch
- ELEAGUE Boston Major (CS:GO) - January 19 - January 22 and January 26 - January 29, watch on Twitch
- GWENT Challenger - January 20 - January 21, watch on Twitch or YouTube
- Hearthstone World Championship - January 20 - January 21, watch on Twitch.