The Biggest Esports Moments in 2016: The Winners Parade

Silhouette of a gamer holding a tournament winner trophy

Today I’m going to show you how you contributed to the massive growth of competitive gaming in 2016.  

But let me just get one thing out first:

I feel bad for people who missed out on all of the excitement that we had this year.

Even though we can all agree that it was a pretty bad year for the world (with the global political situation and stuff) I can confidently say that it was a kick ass year for eSports.

And here is why:

  • The birth of initiative for an eSports governing body— WESA and the conceptualization of PEA (yes I’ve read the news but they’ll get it right eventually)
  • A big shift toward mainstream media, especially with the recent $300m broadcasting deal between MLB and Riot
  • Record breaking prize pools, starting with the $20m The International 2016.
  • The release of Overwatch in May, which became hugely popular over the next 7 months
  • ESL taking their events to New York’s Barclays Center, an arena with the capacity of over 15,000
  • The first takeover of Asian sports arena at IEM Gyeonggi in December.
  • Total prize money in competitive gaming in 2016 breaking the $90 million mark
  • Dota 2 taking the number one spot in 2016 prize pools, with a total prize pool of over $36 million
  • Valve cracking down on skin betting websites, following the class-action lawsuits regarding the misuse of their API
  • Launch of dedicated eSports portals on major news outlets, like ESPN and Yahoo
  • Esports hitting the TV, with ELeague Season 1 and TBS
  • Football clubs creating their own eSports teams
  • Finland and Russia recognizing eSport as a sport

While all of this was going on industry-wide, us (the fans) have been handling our side of the business:

Watching the matches, playing and growing the industry through complementary activities.

When it comes to pure excitement and passion, there were 3 major tournaments this year that I need to reflect upon right now:

Just one last thing before you go on:

Cue the Duel of the Fates.

ESL One Cologne 2016 (July 5-July 10)

ESL One Cologne 2016 was held in Cologne’s Lanxess Arena in July. It featured 16 of the biggest teams at the moment, fighting for a total prize pool of $1 million.

At this tournament we had a pleasure of watching SK defend the first spot, through a series of masterfully played games by fnx, TACO and Coldzera, with Coldzera eventually taking the tournament MVP award.

Simply put, SK’s performance was brilliant:

As a matter of fact, they made a statement so intense that people started to wonder if SK actually stands for Serial Killers.

All jokes aside, this particular tournament is where we saw fnx’s clutch game shine bright like a diamond (I just completely ruined Rihanna’s song), especially in the quarterfinals match against FlipSid3.

Needless to say, there have been other entertaining moments in Cologne.

Here’s a little “Try Not to Laugh Challenge” for ya:

Try not to lose it completely at that knife kill attempt by Seized.

The International 2016 (Aug 2-Aug 13)

With over 20 million bucks on the line, you can rest assured that everyone will bring their A-game.

And it’s just what happened at the TI6.

Sixteen teams, two groups, KeyArena in Seattle and a total of $19 million that came from fans who bought Battle Pass.

Along with a new line in the Guinness Book of Records.

At The International 2016, Wings Gaming did something unprecedented in the world of competitive Dota 2 — they became the world record holders for the largest prize won in competitive gaming.

Just how much?

Having played amazingly well they walked away $9 million richer.

Here is their ridiculously exciting winning moment:

Their runner ups, Digital Chaos, also did extremely well in the tournament but haven’t managed to answer Wings’ insane hero pool and aggressive strategy.

However, their brightest moment is probably their semi final win versus Evil Geniuses (2:1), where they played (in my opinion) the best game of the tournament.

This is just…I mean, how the hell did DC even manage to defend those Tier 4 towers?

The World Championship 2016 (Sep 29-Oct 29)

2016 League of Legends World Championship was another in line of record breaking eSports tournaments.

However, this time it was twofold:

First, we broke the viewership number records when 47 million people watched the finals.

Second, SKT1 won their third Summoner’s Cup. And that’s like 3 out of 4. They basically collect Summoner Cups like my grandma collects napkins.

Faker (SKT1) was pronounced as the tournament MVP, after SKT1’s close 3:2 win over SSG in the finals.

Let’s take a look at how the finals played out:

My hat’s off to SK Telecom for their motivation to overcome many challenges and the willingness to dig down deep and earn their achievements — you guys deserve a standing ovation.

Bonus: 5 Weird and Funny eSports Moments in 2016

I originally haven’t planned to include this section but as I did the research for this article, I came across a lot of weird clips from this year’s tournaments.

So I wanted to share some with you guys:

1) 12 nothing I’m sorry, was looking for a different story

2) FaZe Rain vs fnx on Overpass

3) Mu and Nono take on neutral creeps and towers

4) Literally everything from this clip

5) Blank chasing CuVee like Wile E. Coyote

I know — I left out a lot of things. It’s been a long year, after all. 

For example, I left out that in 2016 there were a total of:

But my main point is this:

I can’t help but feel extremely proud for being a part of this universe of competitive gaming all of us are building up right now.

And YOU should be proud too.

Because you’re watching the matches, you’re participating in the community, you’re crowdsourcing prize pools, you’re nursing the players and giving them motivation to play well.

You’re the real hero because you’re setting the bar high for the entire industry.

So here’s to you — happy New Year and I hope that we’ll continue moving the chains forward for eSports in 2017.