Whilst the esports phenomenon had its origins in Korea, and has since spread all over the world from the US to Australia, it’s become clear that many leading competitive gaming brands are aiming to concentrate their operations in East Europe.
Nowhere was this better witnessed than through the recent IEM Katowice gaming tournament. This took place earlier this year at the quaint Polish city that hosted the Intel Extreme Masters competition with resounding success. From the thrilling League of Legends championship showdown, to the drama of the Counter Strike Global Offensive and StarCraft II contests, it showed that esports may have found a new home.
The tournament saw well over 125,000 people flocking to the gaming arena, and when you consider the fact that Katowice’s popular is just over double this, it shows you just what an impressive achievement this is. The Intel Extreme Masters have commanded a strong reputation as being perhaps the pinnacle of the competitive gaming realm, and odds for the IEM are easily amongst the most popular wagering options at betting resources like esports.net and many more sites.
But it wasn’t just the attendees of the IEM Katowice gaming tournament that helped put East Europe’s esports on the map. There were estimated to be well over 40 million viewers of the gaming action via streaming platforms such as Twitch, ESL and the Intel Extreme Masters website.
Whilst Katowice is well known for its industrial heritage, by opening its doors to youth culture and technological innovation, the Polish city has swiftly become the focus of many top competitive gaming events. This can be seen through the fact that the city council passed a bill to provide support to the IEM tournaments over a series of years.
As such, the IEM Katowice has blossomed to become one of the largest gaming expos in the world. Such events are hugely attractive to members of the video game industry, and the sheer volume of big money sponsors was a further sign of how influential the Polish city had become in the online gaming realm.
IEM Katowice is just one of the many promising esports ventures that have helped make Poland one of the most vibrant hotbeds for gaming in the whole of Europe. A recent report by Projekt Esport revealed how no less than 150 distinct companies have started investing Polish esports firms, and whether it’s Coca Cola teaming up with star streamers like Piotr ‘Izak’ Skowyrski, or the Polsat broadcaster launching a gaming channel, it seems as though Poland is leading the way when it comes to esports.
However, it’s not just Poland that is pushing things forward in East European esports. Hungary recently hosted its first major esports event in 2018 at the Budapest Bok Hall. This saw gamers competing on titles like CSGO, LoL and Clash Royale in a bid to take a share of the staggering €1 million prize pool.
In Romania, gamers were treated to the Bucharest Minor that saw many legendary esports teams like Gambit showing their skills at the iconic Dota 2 esport. And when you consider that the Ukrainian CSGO team, NAVI.GG.BET managed to win the $125,000 prize at the ESL One Cologne in 2018, it shows that East European esports is in rude health.
Obviously, there is still some way to go before esports in East Europe can overtake popular traditional sports such as football and tennis. However, there are growing signs that even some of the region’s most legendary sporting institutions are starting to take esports a little more seriously. This can be seen in the fact that the Czech football team, Sparta Praha, made moves to establish its own EA Sports FIFA team to compete against the likes of Manchester City and Ajax. All of which shows that esports in East Europe is here to stay.