Professional eSports Company ESL Postpones 2020 Tournament, Along With $1M Purse

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Professional eSports Company ESL Postpones 2020 Tournament, Along With $1M Purse

Professional eSports competitors vying for the $1 million purse that was to be awarded at this weekend's ESL One Los Angeles 2020 tournament had to hit the pause button when their event at the Shrine Auditorium was postponed due to the coronavirus. But the amateurs slated to compete in the undercard ESL Mobile Open, presented by AT&T, will still have their shot at gaming glory.

They'll just have to compete from their homes, and without a live audience.


The finalists have been competing since the qualification stage of play at the beginning of this year. The ensuing playoff round will culminate with this weekend's championship. ESL, which will provide analysis and color commentary for online viewers, is a German company founded in 2000 that operates and produces eSports competitions and leagues for numerous game publishers.

Competitors will be playing Clash of Clans, Asphalt 9: Legends, Dota Underlords and PUBG Mobile. The ESL Mobile Open will be completing its fourth season. The first three seasons reportedly yielded more than 600,000 registrations, with over $330,000 in prize money awarded. According to sources, ESL will distribute $400,000 to successful teams over the next three seasons.

Onlookers will find the viewership data for this weekend's event an interesting barometer of two ongoing eSports trends.

First is how viewing habits are evolving in real time amid the coronavirus fallout. With professional sports leagues gone dark, eSports has an opportunity to accelerate its growth by bringing in viewers hungry for competitive content.

Second is the trajectory of mobile gaming. The increasingly glamorous world of professional eSports has hitherto been mostly confined to PC-oriented games. Mobile gaming, meanwhile, has been considered more amateurish, with tournaments like ESL Mobile Open viewed as a potential onramp for ambitious gamers hoping to break into the higher ranks. But mobile, sources say, has been gaining prestige among players, fans and gaming companies.

This weekend's event should provide clues about how both of these trends may develop. Game on.

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