For most people, video games are a hobby confined to their sofa or worn-out gaming chair. 

However, the world of professional gaming is more than just a leisurely pastime. It’s a fiercely competitive sport that can propel you to heights you never imagined. Each year, esports tournaments transform stadiums and arenas into battlegrounds, attracting dedicated fans to watch their revered pros battle it out for prize pools that often exceed millions of dollars. 

For the uninitiated, esports events may seem peripheral – not mainstream, but enough people are interested to make something happen. While this was once true, rising investment in esports tournaments is pushing the industry forward rapidly. Summer 2024 will see the first Esports World Cup held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, featuring 19 video game titles and over $60 million in prize money. 

The esports industry is becoming impossible to ignore. So, what are esports events, and why are they so important? 

What do Esports Events Look Like?

Esports Events are incredibly diverse and often adapt to the game featured. Most take a tournament format, where teams or individuals must make it through qualifying, group, bracket, and final stages to win a trophy. Transforming arenas and stadiums, the staging of these tournaments is often high-concept, extravagant, and atmospheric to match the game played.

Like many traditional sports, esports also has grassroots leagues and tournaments. The industry finds its roots in BYOC (bring your own computer) tournaments that first began to draw communities together in small venues. These events still take place around the world. In the UK, Epic.LAN has hosted community esports tournaments for 20 years, featuring BYOC and stage events. Many players, esports event staff, and on-broadcast talent began their careers in such events, proving their immense value to the industry.

Who Competes in Esports Events?

Anyone can become an esports pro if they have the skill, dedication, and passion to reach the top. Professional esports players must excel at understanding their game’s mechanics, learn to strategise under pressure, and work exceptionally well with others, especially in team-orientated games. 

Although esports is still male-dominated, many game titles have established additional tournaments, events, and programs to provide a space for women and non-binary players. In these leagues, they climb the ranks and gain competitive experience while inspiring the next generation of diverse gamers.

Why do people go to Esports Events?

Although an online broadcast accompanies all major esports events, live events draw thousands of fans to sell-out stadiums to immerse themselves in the moment. However, attendees cannot see the PC screen, a perfectly coordinated broadcast switches between players, run by a team of observers and played on giant screens throughout the venue. Sound effects, vibrations, smoke, sparklers, and carefully curated lighting immerse the audience in the game, with each event tailoring its staging to its own gameplay.  

For many, esports events and tournaments are the heart and soul of competitive gaming. Communities unite from every corner of the globe to celebrate a shared passion, often spending days at a time dedicated to a tournament from its group stage to completion. 

Whether you are a fan, content creator, pro, staff member, journalist, game developer, or cosplayer, there is something for you.