If you had to choose just one of your favorite eSports events, which one would it be? We know – picking only one competition is impossible because each tournament is more exciting than the next. Luckily, you probably won’t have to choose because the eSports calendar features most events in a way that they don’t overlap.
2020 has been among the quirkiest and most unpredictable years in history. The eSports industry has kept strong and thrived despite numerous sectors and economies going under. 2021 promises to be among the best years ever for professional gaming, and pro-level events are where the best of the best go to separate the boys from the men.
Several dozen tournaments take place throughout the year, but checking out all of them can be overwhelming. Instead, we’ve compiled a list of five must-see competitions, so check out the best eSports events you should attend in 2021:
- Rainbow Six: Invitational
- LoL Worlds
- CoD League: 2nd Season Championship
- Overwatch League Grand Finals
- The Undisputed King of eSports Events: IEM Katowice
Rainbow Six: Invitational (February 19-21, 2021)
First conceived in 2017, this yearly tournament brings together Rainbow Six: Siege teams from all over the world. The original prize pool amounted to $500,000 but has risen to more than $3 million in recent years. Typically, the best teams begin competing in a group stage under a double-elimination system before entering double-elimination playoffs.
Despite usually calling Montreal, Canada, home, the 2021 Invitational will transition to Europe. Additionally, unlike the typical roster that features 16 teams participating in the event, the 2021 edition will feature 20 teams. However, this year’s most significant change is that the COVID19 pandemic forced the organizers to host the event without spectators despite being an offline tournament.
The Global Point Standings are typically the biggest (and at times, only) factor in qualifying for the Six Invitational and other eSports events. Thanks to pooling points from performances at the Six Majors and various Regional Leagues, teams become eligible for participation.
For instance, the 2021 Rainbow Six Invitational will see the French BDS Esports claiming the top seed. The French gamers won one of the majors’ EU division and finished first in the regional European League. Each of the Asia majors also featured Cloud9 and Giants Gaming finishing first and second, respectively. As a result, both of these teams similarly have top seeds at the Six Invitational.
League of Legends World Championship (September-October 2021)
North American teams went home with their tails between their legs during the 2020 Worlds in Shanghai. Despite having three LCS teams at the event, none of them managed to get to the playoffs. The past offseason was busy for the LCS and featured massive roster changes, new branding, and a new logo.
Bjergsen exchanged his mid-laner seat in TSM for that of the coach after six seasons, with Doublelift permanently retiring from Team SoloMid. Cloud9 didn’t qualify for the upcoming Worlds despite dominating one of the most prestigious eSports events – the 2020 LCS Spring Split. On the other hand, C9 signed former Fnatic coach Mithy and former G2 heavyweight Perkz.
Following the policy of roster changes in preparation for the Worlds, LEC’s G2 (the current reigning world champions) acquired Rekkles from Fnatic. Astralis also signed a whole new LoL roster to make the legendary CS team’s official debut in the game.
Unlike 2020’s Worlds, which took place in Shanghai, the 2021 tournament will welcome teams in Shenzhen. Like last year’s competition, the upcoming contest will take place sometime between late September and early October.
Call of Duty League: 2nd Season Championship (February 11-14, 2021)
The league’s second season promises to be one of the most exciting eSports events of 2021. If you compare the upcoming season with the inaugural one, you’ll notice numerous changes to make things more entertaining.
For example, matches will feature the usual four-vs-four battles instead of the first season’s five-vs-five format. Also, teams will compete in Black Ops: Cold War instead of the Modern Warfare installment.
A “special one-year-anniversary of the COD League” will be the Kickoff Classic between January 23 and 24. This event will also mark the unofficial start of the CDL season 2, while the Opening Weekend (February 11-14) will feature the first official matches.
Overwatch League: Grand Finals (October 2021)
Season 3 is currently underway, but professional Overwatch teams have a long and arduous road ahead before reaching one of the greatest eSports events’ Grand Finals. The Overwatch League features 20 pro-level teams from all over the globe.
The previous playoffs featured a split into an Asian and North American playoff as a result of COVID19. Korea was the home of the final offline double-elimination bracket between the top two teams from each playoff. Seoul Dynasty lost 4-2 to the champions San Francisco Shock. Third place went to the Shanghai Dragons, which clocked a 0-40 streak in Season 1 of OWL.
Each of these teams overhauled their rosters during the extensive offseason, promising exciting clashes in Season 3. Regardless, the three have their work cut out as numerous other teams like Paris Eternal, London Spitfire, and Dallas Fuel also honed their craft.
IEM Katowice (February 16, 2021)
The event’s full name is Intel Extreme Masters Season XV World Championship in Katowice, Poland, but everyone calls it IEM. A tournament that needs no introduction, Katowice will be home to a multi-day LAN competition with the world’s top teams battling each other across multiple stages.
CS:GO’s most prominent names will compete for the $1 million grand prize and seasonal bragging rights. Thanks to the Road to Katowice rankings, eight of the strongest global teams will participate. Among these teams, Evil Geniuses and FURIA Esports represent North America, while Europe’s heavy hitters include FaZe Clan, G2 Esports, Na’Vi, Astralis, Team Vitality, and Heroic.
Aside from the top eight, sixteen more teams will try to make the event more exciting. Entries include Cloud9, Gambit, Virtus Pro, Team Liquid, OG, Fnatic, Complexity, and more. The teams in this play-in field will battle each other to comprise eight teams to subsequently join the previously mentioned Road to Katowice qualifiers in the main group stage.