The Intel Extreme Masters World Championship (IEM), took place in Katowice in Poland from March 12th – 15th. While the IEM events happen at alternating locations around the globe, it is not surprising that the ESL (Electronic Sports League) and Intel would go to Poland for the World Championship of Season 9.
The industry is growing fast in Eastern Europe and eSports is a big part of it. Following last year, it was the second time, that the finals were held in Katowice, prior to that the usual place was the CeBIT in Hanover, Germany. The championship was part of the IEM Expo, that also had booths by eSports related exhibitors like Roccat, BenQ and HyperX. The event was split between the International Congress Center and the Spodek Arena in central Katowice.
The ESL has more than 5 Million members and 1 Million teams. The very best of these international teams got together in Katowice. There were three disciplines, total prize money adding up to 610,000 USD: The classic and long-lived StarCraft 2 (originally released back in 2010! time flies…), Riot Games’ MOBA smash League of Legends and one of the ultimate evergreens, Counter Strike: GO (the later at ESL One, a separate part of the expo).
US Team SoloMid took the trophy in League of Legends. Besides the trophy, they got the sizable first prize of more than 100,000 USD. Zest won StarCraft in exclusively South Korean Playoffs. 22 year old Zest, aka Joo Sung Wook, can add 68,000 USD to his account as a result of this success. And Europe got the CS prize, with swedish team Fnatic closely beating their fellow countrymen Ninjas in Pyjamas.The event was also a success for the organizers. The spectators were queuing for hours to get in. During the weekend it was extremely crowded in particular. It was huge!
In other words, the event was a testament to the significance that eSports have achieved, continuously growing into a thing of the mainstream instead of a niche phenomenon. That is largely thanks to games like League of Legends, that make free-to-play work for both sides – industry and non-casual players.
As a marketing company in this field, the event gave us the opportunity to meet many important partners: YouTubers, Multi Channel Networks, Direct Publishers and Affiliate Networks. We also had the chance to chat with game publishers like Gameforge, Ubisoft and Riot Games. It was an important event – for business and simply as a gamer and fan of eSports. Up next we’ll go back to Poland for Digital Dragons (read our recap from last year here). Stay tuned!
Joanna Brych, Senior Business Development Manager CEE