Record prize pools, record viewer counts, massive corporate acquisitions, and unprecedented attention from gaming and mainstream media all combined to make 2014 a banner year in esports.
The Electronic Sports League (ESL), the longest running esports competition platform after its foundation in 2000, was a large part of that success, as new data from the company shows. This year ESL and its premiere events, the IEM tournament series and ESL One tournaments, didn’t just set viewership records for their live broadcasts. More people than ever before attended events in person.
“Seven years ago we had 10,000 viewers on stream,” the infographic says, regarding IEM Katowice, the IEM season championship. “This year we had more live in front of the stage.”
The IEM World Championships in Katowice, Poland featured over one million peak concurrent users, more than doubling the total from 2013.
ESL One Frankfurt on June 28 and 29 saw 12,500 people a day come to watch the first esport event ever held in a World Cup Stadium, the Commerzbank-Arena. Riot’s World Championship final for League of Legends, held in Korea’s Sangam Stadium, followed suit a few months later.
ESL oversaw the rise of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive into a true premiere esports title, and the IEM Cologne event was the perfect example: 409,368 concurrent users watched Ninjas in Pyjamas beat Fnatic in the finals, the most ever to watch a Counter-Strike tournament.
But perhaps ESL’s crowning achievement for the year was its American invasion. The German based company has hosted multiple events on this side of the Atlantic through their history, but March was the first time they placed an ESL flag on American soil when they acquired American event services company Esports Services and established a studio in Burbank.
In October, ESL hosted an event at iconic Madison Square Gardens in New York City, the largest east coast esports tournament in history. They followed it up with IEM San Jose on Dec. 6-7, where 4 million unique viewers tuned in, the most ever for an ESL event in America.
And that’s just a sampling of the most important parts of ESL’s big year—you’ll have to check out the infographic to run the full gamut. The company was involved with dozens of other esports productions, including the Smite regional championships, the first ever Halo: Master Chief Edition tournament, and StarCraft 2’s World Championship Series.