With more esports tournaments than ever before, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to unforgettable moments. From long-awaited player comebacks to late turnaround wins, the average esports tournament is a heart-raising experience, no matter whether you’re watching online or in person. Ready for a walk down memory lane? Below are just five of the most legendary moments from esports history.
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Evil Geniuses Pocket $6 Million at The International
Nowadays, multi-million dollar prize pools aren’t unheard of at major esports tournaments. In July 2023, Team Spirit took home an incredible $15 million at Saudi Arabia’s second Riydah Masters tournament. However, this pales in comparison to the $40 million they won at The International in 2021. Back in 2015, prize pools were generally a lot lower. Nonetheless, the $6.6 million that was up for grabs at The International’s fifth annual Dota 2 tournament was an eye-watering amount. Despite fierce competition from Chinese team CDEC, Evil Geniuses walked away with a narrow victory and a seven-figure payday.
Daigo’s Impossible Parry
While MOBA games and first-person shooters dominate modern-day esports, beat ‘em ups were a staple of the early years. At the EVO World Championships in 2004, Daigo Umehara delivered one of the most impressive plays in gaming history. Umehara was evenly matched against Justin Wong, with each player securing a single round. As the action moved into the third and final round, it looked as though Umehara was done for. Then, something changed. As Wong went to deal the killing blow, Daigo pulled off a list-minute block. Then, despite his health bar being almost depleted, Daigo parried a succession of 15 attacks, before landing the final blow and taking the trophy.
ZeRo’s Incredible Winning Streak
Super Smash Bros. is another game that doesn’t get enough love in esports circles. However, this racing game series has amassed a sizable following. Although the series itself has never come close to capturing the viewership of titles like LoL and Dota 2, it has produced some incredible players. Take Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios as one example. In 2014, this Chilean youngster was enjoying an unbroken winning streak unlike any other. Over the course of 11 months, ZeRo secured successive wins at no less than 56 tournaments. Sadly, his run of good luck would come to a grinding halt at the 2015 Major League Gaming World Finals. This did little to deter ZeRo, who went to on secure career earnings of more than $182,000 across 170 tournaments.
The League of Legends World Championship Takes Center Stage
Back in 2014, esports was still considered something of a niche market in most parts of the world. This wasn’t the case in South Korea, with the Asian country often considered the spiritual home of modern-day esports. When planning got underway for the fourth edition of Worlds, Riot Games decided to go all out with the opening ceremony. From big-ticket musicians to pyrotechnics worthy of any Super Bowl halftime show, this high-profile event let wider audiences know that esports had finally arrived.
Faker Establishes Himself as a Living Legend
In 2013, Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok was already making a name for himself as one of the best LoL players on the planet. However, it would be a fateful matchup between Faker’s SKT T1 and KT Rolster Bullets that would cement his reputation as the standout star of LoL esports. Back then, there was no draft mode to speak of in League of Legends. As such, Faker and Ryu “Ryu” Sang-wook from KT Rolster Bullets both ended up picking Zed as their champion. While their teammates fell away, Faker and Ryu were left to slug it out in the final stretches. It was Faker’s Zed that would win out, with the young Korean putting an end of the competition with a slew of devastating moves.