If you’ve been following any of our previous blogs, hopefully, you’ve become a fan of esports. Now that you are intrigued and want to support the sport more your next logical question would be how do you find tournaments to watch? I was still kind of stuck in an analog mindset thinking that you’d watch matches on TV, but the esports industry relies more on other services to broadcast their product.
Where can I watch esports competitions? The esports industry relies heavily on streaming services. Fans can easily access tournaments on Twitch, YouTube Gaming, and now on Facebook Gaming. If preferred, some matches are available on TV through ESPN and BBC.
Streaming tournaments over the internet was still a relatively new concept to me. To watch sporting events, I’ve always relied heavily on ESPN and other channels. Streaming services have made it easier than ever to access esports tournaments in a very consumer-friendly way.
The Games and Their Seasons
As a fan of the NFL, I can tell you exactly how to watch my favorite team’s games, when to watch, and how long their season is.
You’ll need this same information when once you’ve decided to start following an esports league. You need to know the league’s schedule, teams, etc.
Esports can be a little tricky to know when to tune in for their product. Every league has its own schedule for tournaments and matches. This can definitely make the sport a tad difficult to follow.
Below are a few of the major tournaments happening in 2019.
Intel Extreme Masters
Date: February 13 – March 2, 2019
Fortnite World Cup Finals
Date: July 26-28, 2019
Evolution Championship Series
Date: August 2-4, 2019
The International Dota 2
Date: August 15-20, 2019
CS:GO Major Tournaments
Date: August 20 -September 8, 2019
Overwatch World Cup
Date: November 2-3, 2019
We looked at three esports games to get an understanding of how their seasons worked and how often they play.
The good news is we are getting into the peak season for almost every esports league. Most leagues have their own playoffs and championships during the summer. Making this the perfect time to get addicted to esports.
League of Legends
The first game we researched was the most popular esports game, League of Legends.
It continues to be the most streamed game around the globe. League of Legends routinely get millions of casual and hardcore fans to stream their championship match.
The League of Legends Championship Series is basically 2 seasons or ‘splits.’ The first split is during the spring and the second is during the summer.
Each split lasts for about 9 weeks all leading up to the World Championship in the fall.
League of Legends is such a worldwide game that fans can find tournaments to stream anytime they’d like to watch. They host tournaments in the United States, Europe, and in Asia.
Every League of Legends team competes on a regional and international level so that they can receive an invitation to the World Championships.
We’ll dive deeper into how to specifically watch some of their tournaments later, but the easiest way to stream League of Legends is through Riot games Twitch channel.
The next game we looked at was easier for me to understand because it functions very similarly to the NFL and NBA. The Overwatch League was designed to mimic other sports leagues by having teams permanently located in specific cities.
There’s a team in Philadelphia, New York, Texas, and Los Angeles. With a grand total of 12 teams in total among the entire league.
During the season, which starts in January, teams travel to rival cities to hold matches competing against the host team. Teams will even go internationally to compete in Overwatch leagues in both Europe and Asia.
The Overwatch League lasts from January until the championship tournament in July.
Overwatch is a little unique compared to other esports leagues because their matches have been picked up exclusively by ESPN for broadcast.
DID YOU KNOW?
All [Overwatch] matches will be available on the ESPN app. Three matches per week will be broadcast on Disney XD: the final match each Thursday beginning at 11:30 p.m. ET along with the first two matches every Sunday at 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET.
The last game we wanted to talk about proves my earlier point that it can be difficult to follow specific esports leagues.
Fortnite is an incredibly popular esports game that launched their league approximately 1-year ago.
Since their league is so young, it can be challenging for fans to know precisely when tournaments are being held and when they should tune in. They’ve been broadcasting a lot of matches during the summer, but they’re inconsistent.
If you are a fan of Fortnite your best option to know when to stream their tournaments is by following their various social media channels.
They regularly post updates on when they’re hosting a new tournament.
For right now they only have their tournaments streaming through Twitch.
This is only a small sampling of the games played within esports.
With so many games played there’s a chance at least one tournament will be available to watch.
Streaming really is the best way to follow esports tournaments no matter which game you choose to follow.
Esports is quickly becoming the sport of the world.
With its ability to be so inclusive of every type of person and nationality it’s gaining a large fanbase quickly.
Its greatest strength is their ability to be watched anywhere in the world. As long as someone has basic internet, they can view and cheer during these massive esports tournaments.
It’s fascinating to see esports embrace streaming as much as it has. Most sports leagues still haven’t embraced the concept of free streaming like esports.
Because other leagues are hesitating, esports has been able to corner the market of online streaming.
Streaming makes it very easy for casual fans to discover their product and follow esports as it only becomes more popular.
It’s interesting to know that casual fans aren’t the only ones using streaming as a way to watch esports. A recent study found that 42% of active esports athletes are actually watching other tournaments.
This means the gamers that are competitively playing find streaming to be the easiest way to follow their sport.
If you’re anything like me, I was lost at first knowing where to find quality streaming of these esports tournaments. I figured I could just Google it, but I wanted the best streaming that allowed me to experience it in a very consumer-friendly way.
There are 5 main websites currently streaming esports tournaments. These websites broadcast matches and also allow the esports athletes to have their own streaming channels.
Deciding which service to use will most likely be determined by the game you want to follow, whether you prefer live streaming or watching older content, and how much interaction you want to have with other fans.
These websites aren’t listed in any particular order. Feel free to try all of them in order to find your favorite!
A list of the top esports streaming sites really has to begin with the website Twitch.
For those new to esports and the industry, you may not be familiar with the website Twitch. They have been around since 2011 and was really the first company to embrace the concept of esports streaming.
Twitch was the first service to offer live streaming of tournaments and gave esports athletes their own channel.
Since Twitch has been around the longest in terms of streaming games, they have worked out most of the bugs within their system and have a very flawless product.
One of the reasons people continually use Twitch for streaming is because of their vast library of games.
They have dedicated channels for just about every video game you could think of including the incredibly popular League of Legends, Fortnite, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
League of Legends, in particular, has made Twitch the most popular streaming service.
League of Legends continually has the most streamed matches on the planet! With over 200 million people tuning in to watch their World Championship match.
The video game developer Riot Games who created League of Legends is always streaming their product on their own personal Twitch channel.
If you’re interested in using Twitch to watch esports tournaments most of the primary game developers have their own streaming channels.
DID YOU KNOW?
There was nearly 1 billion hours (947,049,482) of exclusive content watched on Twitch in March 2019.
Twitch tries to make the consumer experience very personal for fans who use their product.
They place links to their most popular channels right on the home page. This makes it easy for new esports fans to know what people are watching.
They have a chat feature allowing fans to make comments and cheer on their favorite teams live during streaming events.
A brief word of warning; as a father of young children I feel obliged to tell you the chat rooms are not always the cleanest. Twitch has done well at putting moderators in the chat rooms to make sure everyone is being polite, but occasionally things slip through the crack.
Since their platform was mainly designed for gamers and esports, it’s very intuitive for fans and the products they are looking for.
Twitch has remained such a favorite streaming product because the very best esports athletes have all created channels on the site.
Some of the very best esports athletes in the world will rely solely on Twitch to get their streaming feeds to their fans.
Twitch gives streamers a lot of freedom to design a channel that best fits their style and for their fans.
They also continually bring in top talent because of their payment system for athletes.
If a fan wants to subscribe to particular gamer’s feeds, they’ll have to pay $5 a month. $3 of that fee is paid directly back to the content creator.
It’s a great system that has allowed professional esports athletes to provide for themselves financially, mainly on their streaming channels alone.
In 2016, Twitch launched a tipping service that allowed fans to tip athletes during their live streams. The very best gamers easily rack up large tips thanks to their personality and skills.
Every streaming service has exclusive streaming deals with esports leagues. Every website wants the rights to specific tournaments, so fans will have to use their service.
For those of you that don’t know DreamHack holds various tournaments for some of the smaller esports games.
Thanks to the longevity of their product, the number of content creators they have signed up, and their exclusive streaming rights partnerships Twitch is continually regarded as the pinnacle of esports streaming.
DID YOU KNOW?
In August 2014, Amazon purchased Twitch game-streaming service for $970 million in cash.
– Business Insider
It’s no wonder Twitch is continually ranked as one of the most visited websites in North America.
Right now YouTube Gaming is the number one competition to Twitch.
Before I really understood the esports industry I would have thought YouTube would have been the number one option for streaming.
Only because their brand is known more amongst the general public. But YouTube Gaming still has a way to go before they catch up with Twitch.
There’s no need for me even to begin to describe what YouTube is because we all know. Everyone on the planet has used YouTube at some point to either watch cat videos or how-to videos.
This familiarity with their product has allowed them to be able to tap into the esports streaming world.
It’s easy for me to tell our parents to log on to YouTube to get a sense of what esports streaming is.
This is one of YouTube Gaming’s most significant strengths…their brand! People are comfortable with their product and know how to use their website to access the content.
YouTube’s streaming of esports is very similar to Twitch.
Most game developers and esports athletes will use both YouTube Gaming and Twitch to put out videos and live tournaments.
When looking at the streaming of major tournaments, there really are 2 significant differences in their presentations. The first being who they have exclusive streaming rights with.
YouTube gaming has the exclusive streaming rights to FACEit’s Esports Championship Series.
Faceit is an esports league that holds tournaments for Dota 2 and CS: GO.
Dota 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive are some of the more popular games in all of esports. Making their streaming rights very valuable to YouTube Gaming.
YouTube Gaming is also the only streaming channel to offer a rewind feature during live tournaments. This allows fans to go back and watch some of their favorite moments or catch something they may have missed.
I find it interesting that YouTube has become the most used service to stream mobile esports games. For example, the fan favorite mobile game Clash Royale routinely puts their tournaments on YouTube Gaming.
DID YOU KNOW?
Of the top 20 games streamed on YouTube Gaming last year, five of them were mobile games.
I never even knew that mobile games were really that involved in the esports industry.
For content creators, YouTube is trying to lure them away for the competition. One way is by being incredibly easy to use. They make it simple to upload content and get it to their fans.
Thanks to YouTube being one of the more popular websites in the world, beginner streamers may find it easier to build an audience quicker.
Some streamers actually prefer YouTube because of their payment system.
YouTube doesn’t pay streamers for subscribers but for the ads on their videos. Streamers on YouTube are heavily incentivized to use ads on their videos.
For fans of esports, one of the reasons they’re using YouTube Gaming is because you can access older videos.
Unlike some services that only have live streaming, YouTube Gaming keeps and catalogs old videos so fans can access whatever content they want. This makes it easy for fans to relive some of their favorite moments.
Again, it really comes down to personal preference as to which streaming service you would like to use.
YouTube is always going to be there and is regularly trying to come up with new ways to push their product forward.
It always makes me laugh to think that Facebook is still going strong in today’s world. I vividly remember when Facebook was created, and it’s crazy to see how far they’ve come.
Before doing my research for this blog, I actually didn’t know they had their own esports streaming service.
I really only knew of Twitch and YouTube Gaming.
After seeing all the ways that Facebook Gaming tries to separate themselves from the competition I can see why fans are jumping onto their service.
Facebook has created a separate website where fans can find the pages of their favorite streamers and game developers.
It’s on their personal pages where content creators will continually post content and keep their fans up-to-date on what’s going on.
Fans also appreciate getting notifications every time their favorite streamers has gone live or posts new content.
If you are new to esports and aren’t sure which game or streamer you should follow Facebook tries to help. They have a system in place that tracks your Facebook activity and works to find a product you might find interesting.
To win over more content creators to their service, Facebook Gaming recently launched what they are calling the Level Up Program.
The official statement from Facebook on their new Level Up Program describes it as, “Designed to give emerging creators information and tools to help jumpstart their livestreaming communities on Facebook and potentially earn money for their work.”
It’s designed so streamers can sell digital products while they play and consumers can purchase the products.
Nothing entices content creators better than giving them more opportunities to earn money. As we’ve all learned you should never bet against Facebook.
Facebook continues to survive and dominate its competition in just about everything. Facebook Gaming’s esports streaming service is just the latest way they’re crushing the competition.
DID YOU KNOW?
Facebook states that more than 700 million people play games, watch gaming videos or engage in gaming groups on Facebook.
Facebook recently was awarded the exclusive streaming rights to the ESL. This was an absolutely massive deal by a company that’s relatively new to esports streaming.
The ESL is one of the oldest leagues and governing bodies within esports. They’re continually looked at as the pinnacle of success for other eSports leagues. They routinely hold tournaments for various games throughout the year.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how Facebook Gaming handles such a monumental streaming deal.
The esports industry and organizers are definitely taking notice of Facebook Gaming from here on out.
Mixer, Steam TV, and ESPN
If you are a fan of Microsoft and Xbox, you really should check out the streaming service Mixer. I will definitely be checking out Mixer as I am a big fan of Xbox.
To separate themselves from the streaming competition, Mixer is trying a couple of unique strategies to win over fans.
One of their more significant selling points is their ability to limit the lag time during live feeds. I’m going to try and not get too technical, but this is a huge difference maker for esports fans.
If you watch a typical live esports stream, there’s a 10 to 20-second delay between what is actually happening and the video feed seen by the consumer. This has been a problem with the industry for a long time.
Mixer has tried to fix this problem by removing almost all lag times between what is happening and what is being seen.
This is a huge win for fans because now they can interact much quicker with the content creators. It creates a more intimate experience between streamers and their fans.
Another unique feature Mixer is trying is what they are calling the Hypezone.
Basically, the Hypezone will change a fans streaming feed to the most exciting moment currently happening during a tournament. Think of it has NFL’s Red Zone moments where you never miss a touchdown.
Hyperzone is an automatic streaming switch so fans can experience the most thrilling moments.
For instance, if a team is about to win a match, then your stream will automatically switch to their live feed so you can see it. It’s a way for casual fans to get a sampling of every type of game and figure out what product they would like to follow.
Mixer does have two prominent exclusive streaming rights deals in place.
Their first deal is with the ESL. The partnership announcement states the deal will begin with content from ESL One Cologne in July and ESL National Championships in Germany, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom, Brazil, Italy, France, Australia & Turkey.
The more prominent deal they’ve put in place is with Hi-Rex Studios, the creators of SMITE. SMITE is a trendy PC game that can only be watched on Mixer.
Mixer has a lot of work to do to compete with the larger companies, but they’re definitely getting creative.
The newest company to get involved in esports streaming is Steam TV.
This particular company is one that the esports industry is definitely keeping an eye on. The company behind Steam TV is the game developer Valve.
Valve is an incredibly popular game developer behind such classic eSports games Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2.
They’re still trying to build their streaming service but as it grows companies will be paying attention.
The other streaming services are most interested to see if Valve will only allow streaming of their products on their own service.
ESPN and BBC
The very last way to watch esports tournaments is also the most old school.
It’s using your TV to watch ESPN or BBC. Both companies have deals in place to stream various tournaments on their channels.
In particular, ESPN signed a deal with the Overwatch League to broadcast their matches.
Being able to watch esports tournaments on your TV using these channels is a way for the industry to tap into the ‘couch’ fan.
These are fans that have never been exposed to esports and will most likely not be using a streaming service.
With all these options at your disposal, you really have no excuse to say, “I can’t watch any esports tournaments.”
There are so many companies making it easier and easier for fans to stream whatever game they’d like to watch.
Should I attend an esports tournament in person? Absolutely, tournament organizers are making the in-person experience very exciting. Fans are going for more of the crowd experience more than anything else.