Esports in 2022: here’s what we’re looking forward to

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The year 2021 is almost over, so it’s time for the key question: what will esports bring in 2022? Events will probably still be (partly) ravaged by the global pandemic. Still, there’s plenty to look forward to, and we’ll tell you what.

In this article, we’re going to talk mostly about the more niche events and tournaments within the esports scene. Obviously there are a number of tournaments that we look forward to immensely every year, think Dota 2 The International, League of Legends World Championship (Worlds) and various Counter-Strike majors. Hopefully these big tournaments can take place next year in front of a large live audience.

Second Year of Valorant Champion Tour (VCT).

This year saw the first Valorant Champion Tour, the highest division of competitive Valorant in the world. Developer Riot Games chose a similar system to League of Legends, with regional leagues, interim international majors and a World Cup in December.

The Valorant Champion Tour 2022 will have a different structure in response to feedback from fans and players. For example, teams from the regions will be able to compete through open qualifiers, which will lower the threshold a lot. In general, there will be more focus on amateur esports players in Valorant. The women’s division will also receive more attention.

This year, the Valorant Champion Tour was won by Acend, in a European clash with Gambit. Although the American team Sentinel was dominant for much of last year, they came up short at the end of the year. Will the Americans return next year or will it be a repeat of Counter-Strike, with the Europeans dominating?

FIFA 22 – three kinds of flavors

EA has published a roadmap on FIFA 22 esports this year. The developer, which is often accused of being unclear around esports, is clearly going to get serious about it in 2022. There will be a tournament for clubs and for countries in addition to the well-known FIFA Global Series (world championship). The world championship is in a 1-on-1 format, with the tournaments for countries and clubs being 2-on-2.

On FIFA.gg the rankings can be found and clear information is available about each tournament. We can’t wait to see which player, club and country will be crowned champion next year. With Dutch players like Levi de Weerd and Ali Riza Aygün, we are at least confident.

ESL Women Circuit 2022

ESL, known for, among other things, ESL One in Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO), has announced a women’s circuit for 2022. A total of $500,000 in prize money will be distributed during various online and lan events. There will also be a physical tournament during DreamHack Valencia. Both the U.S. and European regions will have tournaments that fall within the circuit.

The tournaments carry the banner of GGFORALL, an initiative to combat discrimination within esports and make esports more inclusive. Online discrimination towards minorities, including women, is a serious problem. Hopefully, this initiative will raise awareness of talented women in esports.

Additionally, Counter-Strike as a whole seems to be in quite a slump, especially in North America. Competitor Riot Games seems to be ahead of the curve on many fronts, such as with its Valorant Game Changers; a league for women that was rigged at the same time as the male league. Will this charm offensive by Valve and ESL be enough to make CSGO thrive again? We’ll know next year.

What were the real esports highlights of 2021? So we asked ourselves on the editorial team. So we compiled a list of esports events and happenings from the past year that stood out for us.

We have arrived at the last week of the year. After this Christmas weekend, there are only a few days left of 2021, with New Year’s Eve as the ultimate finale, of course. It was a very strange year that was of course dominated by COVID-19, but let’s focus on the fun stuff.

Esports, despite the coronavirus swirling around, continued as usual. Nationally, internationally, online and sometimes even offline for a while. Esports is not going to be dwarfed by a pandemic and will continue to exist. That’s why we were also able to easily compile a list of highlights from 2021.

Mid-Season Invitation 2021 (League of Legends)

In May of this year, Riot Games hosted the Mid-Season Invitational (MSI). The tournament, where the best League of Legends teams in the world compete at mid-season, did not take place in 2020 due to the corona pandemic. This year, the developer found a way to make it happen. In fact, all teams were flown to Iceland to compete in an offline environment. The public was not welcome, which reduced the charm of the event.

After a sizzling tournament, China’s Royal Never Give Up and South Korea’s DAMWON Gaming faced each other. Despite the fact that the latter was the reigning world champion, RNG won the final battle 3-2. ADC GALA of RNG was named MVP of the final, as thanks in part to him, the team took home the title and the 75,000 euros.

The International 10 (Dota 2)

The most talked about esports tournament of 2021 was without a doubt the World Championship Dota 2: The International 10. Initially, TI10 was to be played in August 2020, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizer Valve decided to postpone it to 2021. However, in August 2021 the event could not take place in Sweden, as that country does not recognize esports as a real sport. Valve then had to look again for a solution.

It finally found it in Romania, Bucharest to be exact. From October 7 to 17, the biggest Dota 2 tournament of the year finally took place. 18 teams competed for the prize pool that was filled with over 40 million dollars, where Team Spirit received the largest share thanks to the final victory. The world champion Dota 2 collected 18.2 million dollars, where losing finalist PSG.LGD had to settle for “only” 5.2 million dollars.

PGL Major Stockholm (CS:GO).

Of course, one of the biggest CS:GO tournaments of the year can’t be missing from this list. The PGL Major Stockholm was played between October 26 and November 7 in, surprise-surprise, Stockholm. What made this tournament unique in 2021 was the fact that it was played in a packed arena. For the first time in 15 months, spectators were welcome at the Avicii Arena, where the playoffs were played.

The tournament itself was unfortunately uneventful, as Natus Vincere (better known as Na’Vi) was far too strong for all the competition. In the group stage the team went 3-0, after which it did not lose a folder in the play-offs either. It successively defeated Team Vitality, Gambit Esports and G2 Esports 2-0 and claimed the grand prize of $1 million.

VALORANT Champions 2021 (VALORANT).

2021 was also the year of the first-ever world championship for the tactical shooter VALORANT. Organizer Riot Games, of course, has experience with this type of event, thanks to the League of Legends World Championship it has been hosting for years. Despite the restrictions around COVID-19, VALORANT Champions 2021 was able to be played as an offline tournament in Berlin, where 16 teams competed against each other for the first ever VALORANT World Title.

The tournament had a crazy final where Gambit Esports actually played as favorite against Acend, but after five games the team from Europe was stronger than the Russians of Gambit. Acend turned a 1-2 deficit into a 3-2 victory and won 350,000 dollars. More important than the cash prize is perhaps the title as the first ever World Champion VALORANT.

The top 10 most-watched Twitch channels covering esports tournaments has changed significantly compared to last year. League of Legends shows to be the most popular with the Twitch audience.

That much has changed is due to the corona pandemic. This year the esports industry made the transition from online tournaments to offline tournaments, some with and some without an audience. As a result, some channels increased or decreased in comparison to last year.

Top 3

This year’s top 3 is a new number 1. The Twitch channel LCKKorea has managed to take over the top spot from ESLCSGO. The Korean channel produces the broadcast for the LCK and also the Korean coverage of the World Championship. In 2021, the LCK stopped broadcasting the Korean competition on YouTube, causing many fans to switch to Amazon’s platform. In total, nearly 77.5 million hours were watched on the channel.

ESL’s Twitch channel came in second due to the strong growth of the Korean League of Legends channel. CSGO Majors always do very well on Twitch and this year’s numbers are proof of that once again. A total of 74.8 million hours were watched on the CSGO channel.

The official Riot Games Twitch channel closes out the top 3. In total, people watched 58.9 million hours of the game developer’s channel. The channel is mainly used to broadcast League of Legends competitions such as the LCK, LEC and LCS. But other games from Riot are also covered. Fans of Legends of Runeterra, Wild Rift and Valorant have also been present on the channel. In addition, the premiere of Arcane was shared via the Twitch channel.

Riot Games dominates

In the rest of the top 10, the game developer makes four more appearances. The French channel OTP started in January this year and immediately made a strong impression. In its first year of existence, the channel manages to secure the fourth spot. In total, people watched 51.5 million hours of the French channel.

In places nine and ten, we again encounter two League of Legends channels. The Twitch channels that produce the broadcast for the LEC and CBLOL managed to put up good numbers this year, placing themselves in the top 10 most watched esports channels.

Besides League of Legends, Riot Games has another game in the top 10 with Valorant. The official Valorant channel managed to capture the seventh spot with 44.6 million hours watched. The game did not manage to make it into the top 10 last year.

Other channels

The Twitch channel of Rocket League and the Russian Dota2 channel are close together. With 50.3 and 50.2 million, they come in at spots 4 and 5. Both channels improve on last year’s number of watched hours. Especially Rocket League made a big jump in the number of watched hours. It is notable, however, that it is only the only Dota2 channel in the top 10 this year.

Last but not least, Rainbow Six Siege managed to get the official Twitch channel into the top 10 for the first time. With 41.4 million hours watched, it landed in spot 8.

The year is coming to an end and that’s always a good time to look back. Many prize pools this year were higher than ever, so we look back at the teams that earned the most this year.

Every year the prize pool of The International, Dota2’s world championship, increases. Every year it is invariably the esports tournament with the largest prize pool. In this year, it did not undercut its reputation. With a prize pool of $40 million, the prize pool was much larger than any other esports tournament this year.

Most deserving teams

Therefore, it is no surprise that three of the top earning teams of 2021 had good results at The International.

The team that managed to win the most prize money in 2021 is Team Spirit’s Dota team. The Russian team miraculously managed to take the win at the World Championship. The players had been under contract to the team for less than a year and had not yet achieved much. Through a qualifying tournament they managed to qualify for The International. Through the lower bracket the team reached the final and eventually won. The victory gave the team 18.2 million dollars, just under 50 percent of the prize money.

Losing finalist PSG.LGD, however, earned enough with the second place to also be the second most earning esports team of the year. Throughout the season, it became clear that the Chinese team was one of the best teams in the world. It was one of the favorites for the world championship. The upset in the final will be remembered for a while, but the second place did win the team $5.2 million.

The third spot was also claimed by a Dota team. Team Secret, an experienced team with multiple TI winners, was hoping for a good result. The team met Team Spirit in the lower bracket and lost. With the third place finish, the team won $3.6 million.

CS:GO

Na’Vi’s CS:GO team came very close to claiming the third spot. The team managed to win several major tournaments including the Blast Global Final and PGL Stockholm Major. Through all the wins and other result, the team won $3.4 million this year.