As the above infographic shows, ESL's Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice was not only a success, it showcased the continuing trend of esports growth - not only breaking several of ESL's own viewing records, but also proving to be one of the most viewed professional gaming events of all time.
The break-neck pace of growth is exemplified by the League of Legends finals between South Korea's KT Rolster Bullets and Europe's Fnatic, setting a new record for the most viewed single match in ESL history with 511,000 concurrent viewers tuning in on Twitch - a whopping 69% growth over the previous record set at IEM Cologne just five months ago. Concurrent viewership across all games for the overall event peaked at 643,000 on Twitch alone. Including Asia, the number of concurrent viewers went over a million.
Growth is also seen in the live attendance - exploding in just a few short years - with ESL ONE's upcoming event in Frankfurt set to keep pushing that envelope. As stated by ESL's Managing Director of Pro Gaming, Michael 'Carmac' Blicharz:
"It was only six or seven years ago that we were happy to see 12,000 concurrent online viewers on a single match. We had 12,000 watching matches live in the flesh in Katowice and hundreds of thousands online. This growth is simply mind blowing."Michael 'Carmac' Blicharz
League of Legends continues to thrive at IEM
Breaking down the event by game, League of Legends continued to be the largest draw, as we've come to expect of the past years. Bringing together teams from all over the world, the event not only showcased a rare treat a midst the regular League Championship Series season, but also managed to put a varied group of teams into the top four, with South Korea, Europe, North America and the CIS all represented.
For those wanting more insight into the events or who might have missed it, onGamers previously did a infographic post breaking down League of Legends at IEM Katowice, including regional comparisons and a look at the champion pool of the event, which can be found here. Our own Travis Gafford also had this to say about the event:
"Experiencing IEM Katowice 2014 in person was incredible. It is impressive that IEM sold out all access to the stadium with fans still clammoring to get in outside. It was great seeing international play in League of Legends once more."Travis Gafford
Great play and great sadness in StarCraft 2
IEM also saw some bittersweet moments in StarCraft 2 - Kim 'sOs' Yoo Jin and Kim 'herO' Joon Ho thrilled us with their great performances over the weekend, culminating in sOs mind-game victory over his opponent. We also got to witnessed the forfeit of Johan 'NaNiwa' Lucchesi right after he had announced a lack of motivation for continuing to play the game, as well as Yun 'TaeJa' Young Seo announcing his retirement after ending the tournament in joint third place. Duncan 'Thorin' Shields summed up the events of the IEM Season VIII - World Championships as follows:
"The StarCraft2 tournament saw numerous memorable storylines play out. From NaNiwa's now infamous exit against Polt, after only a single game played, to TaeJa making it deep only to announce retirement after going out. The two men who ended up the final, herO and sOs, were undoubtably the two best players there, but the format of the tournament meant only one could go home with the $100,000. sOs showed himself to be a master of mind-games at the WCS Global Finals and this tournament was an encore performance, as he toyed with herO on the biggest stage of the year. There may never be another tournament like this again, which people can decide as to whether that's a good thing or not, but it won't be forgotten soon, from its gimmick to the big series played by the likes of StarDust and Polt."Duncan 'Thorin' Shields
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is here to stay
One of the biggest draws of the event was Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which held its second community-funded $250,000 prize pool tournament. These events are quickly proving that CS:GO is not only doing the legacy of CS 1.6 justice, but has become the premier esports game for FPS enthusiasts.
Furthermore, the event is doing more than just striking home with the viewing public. It is encouraging both old fans of the series and new fans alike to pick up the game and play, with significant spikes in Steam numbers after both DreamHack Winter and ESL's EMS One at Katowice, which have shown significant retention even after the event has ended. This signals a healthy future for the game, and the continued viability of the crowd funded-tournament model, which CS:GO's publisher Valve has been embracing as of late.
"EMS Katowice lived up to its billing as the second World Championship level major event in CS:GO history. All the best teams were in attendance, the winning team had to beat the two best teams in the world en route to the title and the storyline of the eventual champions, home country heroes, is one of the more memorable in recent history. That NiP once more fell in the final, when favoured to win, only added to the storybook finish to the tournament. Another chapter in CS:GO history is firmly etched in time."Duncan 'Thorin' Shields
Hearthstone makes it's IEM debut
Finally, IEM Katowice also showcased the newest entrant on the esports block, as Hearthstone got it's first outing on the IEM stage with $4,000 up for grabs. The widely popular Blizzard game is making quick inroads towards competitive play, with invited Team Doge House players Dan 'Artosis' Stemkoski and Marcin 'Gnimsh' Filipowicz becoming familiar faces for all fans of competitive Hearthstone. They were joined on stage by two qualifying players, who both represent Planetkey Dynamics, 'SineX' and 'Lothar'.
"While the end result of the Hearthstone tournament at IEM Katowice may have been quite expected for those who follow the scene, especially with the recent great form of Gnimsh, how it all went down was both highly entertaining and highly unexpected. The standout deck of the tournament was without a doubt Gnimsh Mage, which struggled to show off it's brilliance in the opening round against SineX, but ended up turning things around against his team Captain Artosis in the finals. The deck was noteworthy not only for going against conventional wisdom of Mage being a weak class but also for running ETC in the rather scarcely populated 5 mana slot."Johan 'Sun_Tzu' Järvinen