With the year closing in, and a new decade upon the horizon, the esports world has a lot to look forward to in 2020. But in 2019, the industry made great strides to grow and expand in new markets, and esports fans have seen many new things such as new game titles, new teams, new leagues, and new faces. The year had some of the biggest stories we’ve seen, and it would be difficult to cover them all. But here are some of the top esports stories of 2019.
The End of Call Of Duty World League (CWL)
Since 2016, Call of Duty esports fans were used to watching the Call of Duty World League (CWL). The league featured traditional esports teams; teams that weren’t bound to a city (franchised). However, towards the later part of 2019, Activision Blizzard ended the CWL and introduced the Call of Duty League(CDL); a new esports league that would feature 12 city-based teams. This would not only break-up the current make-up of Call of Duty esports, but it changed which teams would play in the CDL as well as a complete overhaul of rosters. The CDL features 12 teams from Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Flordia, London, two Los Angeles teams, Minnesota, New York, Paris, Seattle, and Toronto.
New Esports Stars
Every year, the esports world sees new stars, and 2019 was no exception. Most of the new faces on console were from the Call of Duty World League; players such as Dylan “Dylan” Henderson, Tyler “aBeZy” Pharris and Dylan “Envoy” Hannon. But the player that stood out the most given his situation was Chris “Simp” Lehr, who made a devastating impact with his team, eUnited. He went on toe win esports console rookie of the year. The Apex Legends landscape has also seen many great players, and one of the names that stick out the most was Dizzy. Dizzy was the first player to reach level 100 in the world, and was immediately recruited by NRG Esports. Another major name was Bugha, who made his way onto the esports scene by winning the Fortnite World Cup Singles match. Bugha also walked away with two Esports Awards for esports PC Rookie and PC Player of the year.
Vaevictis Esports Controversy
One of the biggest controversies in 2019 was the all-female Vaevictis Esports team. Two days before the start of the new Russian LoL League, Vaevictis Esports fired all of its players and replaced them with 5 female players. In their first 3 games, Vaevictis Esports lost all their games in lop-sided matches, and their 52-2 loss against Vega completely impacted their overall statistics in the Russian league. This caused an outpour of fans that wanted answers, however, rumors were spreading about Vaevictis Esports wanting to sell their spot in the league. The disastrous move had cost them a slot in the playoff phase for MSI and the World Championship.
CS:GO Legend, PashaBiceps Retires
One of the biggest names to ever hit the CS:GO pro scene is Pashabiceps. Early in 2019, Pasha announced his retirement via Twitter, which shocked many hardcore fans. Born and raised in Poland, Jaroslaw “pashaBiceps” Jarzabkowski has been in esports for a long time. His career began in 2007, however, he started to actively play Counter-Strike in 2010 for Frag eXecutors and saw lots of success there. Two Premiers and many Majors and Minors were won by Frag eXecutors in that period. Pasha then had short episode in AGAiN, and then quickly moved to ESC Gaming. PashaBiceps joined Virtus.pro at the beginning of 2014 and he stayed there till the end of a career. There he won 10 Premiers and earned most of his money. He definitely was one of the reasons for Virtus.pro great accomplishments. Later on in the year, Pasha wanted to see if his retirement was a mistake and was on trial with AGO, a polish esports organization, however, it was short-lived as he was removed by the organization on Sept.16th. Nonetheless, Pashabiceps leaves his mark as a Legend in Counter-Strike esports world.
That’s it ! I grew up in esport , I will stay in esport I will die in esport… your papito 💪❤️ pic.twitter.com/mcmg6BPKzB
— paszaBiceps (@paszaBiceps) December 13, 2018
Fornite esports grew in 2019 and became one of the biggest games in the industry. Starting off with minor tournaments like the Fortnite Summer Skirmish Series and Fortnite Winter Royale, Epic Games saw that they had a solid competitive following and participation. Epic continued to introduce many other esports events such as the Secret Skirmish Series, Cash Cups, and Champion Series. But the biggest tournament that Epic Games put together was the Fortnite World Cup, which happened to be one of the biggest esports events of the year. Initially, Epic Games announced that the Fortnite World Cup would have a prize pool of $30 million dollars, which was the biggest prize pool in esports history at that point. The World Cup delivered on many points, and also introduced new stars in the esports scene such as Bugha, the winner of the single finals.
TI9 Biggest Prize Pool in Esports History
The Fortnite World Cup announced that they were going to have a $30 million dollar prize pool, which was the largest amount in any single tournament. However, The International is the biggest esports event, and there was no way that they were going to let the new kids on the block get all the glory. Roughly a week later, Valve announced that this year’s Dota‘s The International had surpassed the $30 million mark, beating out the Fortnite World Cup prize pool and regaining the title for the largest prize pool in an esports event. This is all thanks to Valve’s Compendium. Here’s an article on why the TI9 prize pool surpassed the $30 million mark.
— Wykrhm Reddy (@wykrhm) July 21, 2019
More Diversity in Esports
The esports industry has taken strides to diversify the space, and although it’s still a large hill to climb, there are some notable stories from this year that will help with the growth of the industry. One of the biggest esports organizations in the world saw their first female member join the group by the name of Ewok. Ewok is a Fortnite streamer who has a hearing disability, however, that has not stopped her from taking charge and being very good at the game. Although the move is great and helps pave way for other female gamers, FaZe Clan did receive some backlash, largely due to the fact that it took them this long to recruit their first female member. The esports world also saw the first black-owned esports gaming facility in Texas called Geekletes, which is lead by Danny Martin. Additionally, major esports organization, Gen.G, made headlines for teaming up with Bumble for an all-female esports partnership. Other notable clans like PMS will be looking to re-entering the esports scene in 2020.
Apex Legends Esports
Apex Legends was released this early on February 4th. Since then, the game has grown to 75 million players, outpacing market stats for downloads by a new game, and entering the battle royale scene with a bang. No other game has received this much attention so early on in its life cycle; not even Fortnite. Thus, it was inevitable that Apex Legends would turn into an esports title. Although there were some Twitch Rivals tournaments for the game, there was no official esports tournament. But that ended when FACEIT announced the first official Apex Legends esports tournament. Additionally, ESL and Apex Legends officially partnered for esports tournaments, and ESPN introduced EXP, a fresh esports series that featured Apex Legends as it’s the main title.
Hector Rodriguez Leaves Optic Gaming
One of the biggest names in esports is Hector Rodriguez. Also known by his gamer name, “H3CZ”, is responsible for building one of the greatest esports organizations in the space, OpTic Gaming. Hector, who was the owner and CEO of OpTic Gaming, has built many teams with OpTic that won championships. The organization has also seen success in other esports titles, but none other than Call of Duty. H3CZ has even dubbed OpTic fans as the “Greenwall” since years ago fans would stand behind players during tournaments wearing the bright green OpTic Gaming jerseys. In 2019, hardcore OpTic fans were saddened by the news that OpTic Gaming and it’s parent company, Infinite Esports, were going to be acquired by Immortals Gaming. Once the deal was sealed, Hector would no longer be the owner of OpTic Gaming, and would part ways with the organization he built. Although OpTic Gaming still exists and is competing in the new Call of Duty League, many hardcore OpTic fans don’t consider it “Hector’s” Optic, and have followed him over at NRG where he is now co-ceo and is preparing the Chicago Huntsmen for the 2020 CDL inaugural season.