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.