This week it’s all about one of the most reputable organizations in all of esports, a European company that has been in the industry for more than 20 years. They used to be known as Deutsche Clanliga, then the Electronic Sports League, but today they’re simply known as ESL.
Based in Cologne, Germany and founded in 2000, ESL is the oldest, fully functioning, esports organization in the world. Originally an online gaming league that circulated its own magazine and rented out servers for gaming competitions, the company has grown exponentially to become a name synonymous with the highest level of esporting events. They offer competitions at all skill levels ranging from amateur online tournaments to worldwide championships.
It’s not an exaggeration to say ESL is responsible for most of the biggest esports events today. It organizes and runs both Counter Strike and Rainbow Six pro leagues as well as major one-off events like the Intel Extreme Masters, National Championships and ESL One events. Plus it’s helped bring esports to prestigious venues around the world including the Barclays Center, Madison Square Garden, Lanxess Arena and SAP Center.
Despite all of this success ESL has never forgotten what got them started and to this day still run competitions online for amateur and up and coming players through their ESL Play events.
As a company that’s all about esports they’ve been proactive in helping to shape the industry. Their AnyKey diversity initiative created a code of conduct and inclusion policy for events that address some of the harassment issues that underrepresented populations face. They’re also one of the few organizers who host competitions exclusively for female gamers and they are a member of the Esports Integrity Coalition, a non-profit association whose goal is to maintain integrity in professional esports.
ESL’s success has attracted many major partners outside the world of esports including Mercedes-Benz. Hulu has also partnered with them to create special esports shows including – Player V Player, Bootcamp, Defining Moments and ESL Replay. Perhaps one of the most integral partnerships has been with the Anshutz Entertainment Group which partially or fully owns more than 120 arenas, theatres and clubs around the world including venues like the Staples Center and O2 Arena.
From humble beginnings to now one of the biggest names in esports, ESL has had an incredible journey and become a powerful force for change in the industry. Make sure to tune into their next major: the Rainbow Six Pro League Finals in Las Vegas taking place December 13th-15th at the Penn & Teller Theatre or online at twitch.tv/rainbow6.