2020 has proven to be one of the most challenging years for esports, and rightfully so for several reasons. The pandemic has shifted the esports arena from the conventional physical events to a virtual, yet disruptive battlespace. Major tournaments were cancelled, and the industry found itself at the crosshairs of controversial allegations. Despite all these challenges, it did not stop the esports community from braving 2020 and moving towards a new normal.
Having said that, here are some of the biggest esports moments of 2020 in the local and international scene.
Valorant proved itself as one of the most successful games of 2020 a number of times. For instance, the game attracted 1.7 million stream views during its beta release and even drove professional teams to recruit players in the hopes of joining a potential Valorant esports league, which is bound to happen in 2021.
To tease fans on what they should expect for the game’s professional circuit, Riot held First Strike, a series of regional tournaments that sought to test the capabilities of the best Valorant teams across the globe. Teams like Bren Esports and NRX dominated the local scene, while names such as 100 Thieves and TSM are anticipated to rock the leaderboards of the Valorant Champions Tour next year.
Just when everyone thought 2020 couldn’t be worse, the fighting game community saw a slew of controversies left and right in line with several sexual misconduct allegations against Joey Cuellar, the founder and figurehead of the Evolution Championship Series, known better as Evo. This galvanized companies like Capcom and Bandai Namco to pull out of the 2020 tournament, which was supposed to take place online.
Moreover, even the event’s staple casters, players, and teams voiced out their support and decided not to join Evo 2020. With most of the sponsors gone in their midst, the Evo board had no choice but to cancel the annual FGC event and offer refunds to the fans.
Truth be told, you can’t be a fan of Fnatic without knowing Martin Larsson, or known better in the League of Legends community as Rekkles. Rekkles led the team in most of its iconic triumphs and defeats for five years, including a first-place finish in Worlds 2018. It effectively cemented Fnatic’s position as one of the best LoL squads in Europe, but with new teams rising up to challenge the status quo, it seemed inevitable for Fnatic’s performance to decline in the last two years.
After a storied five-year career with the team, Rekkles shocked the esports scene by leaving the black-and-orange banner and inking a contract with G2 Esports. While this move was unexpected, seeing Rekkles reunite with his old teammate Caps is still a sight to behold.
China dominated the League of Legends esports landscape for the past two years. Invictus Gaming punched out Fnatic in an epic BO5 showdown in Worlds 2018, while FunPlus Phoenix outclassed former world champions T1 to emerge as 2019’s best squad. While it seemed like China was set to conquer the esports circuit for the third time, it was a defiant and hungry Damwon Gaming team that stopped the region off its tracks.
The Korean squad faced off against fan favorites Suning Gaming in the finale of Worlds 2020. Despite a thrilling showcase from the newcomers, Damwon displayed its resiliency and veteran experience by shutting down Suning’s strategies in the latter parts of the match, allowing the Korean squad to end years of drought and claim the Summoner’s Cup.
Suning was competitive throughout the majority of its 3-1 loss to Damwon Gaming, but seeing the team scratch out a win was emphasized by a historic moment courtesy of top laner Chen “Bin” Ze-Bin. Suning’s Game 2 victory was capped off by the first Pentakill in the history of the League of Legends World Championship finals courtesy of Bin’s Fiora.
After a close battle of attrition in the second round of Worlds 2020, Bin’s Fiora found its power spike and secured its core items. With all members of Damwon in perfect position, the young Chinese prodigy went for the kill and snuffed out all five members of the opposing team in one, dazzling strike.
Mirroring Bin’s iconic moment in Worlds 2020, Bren Esports’ young ace KarlTzy followed suit and recorded the very first Savage milestone in an MPL playoff run during the team’s match against the league’s dark horse, NXP Solid. The 16-year-old player logged an impressive 9-0-7 KDA on Lancelot in Game 1, and shocked viewers further by striking down three heroes in an epic 3v1 showdown.
KarlTzy’s milestone didn’t only propel Bren Esports to a Game 1 victory, but it shattered NXP’s confidence in the next two matches, allowing the boys in black-and-yellow to overpower them and secure a gold ticket to the next round, and eventually, the championship.
The country’s first franchise-based esports league achieved a lot of success in its debut, and for a number of reasons. The Nationals became a home to budding talents in the professional circuit. Teams like Cignal Ultra, Adroit, and even Smart Omega began their respective esports journeys in the tournament, while players such as Hapon and Doujin will always be remembered for their thrilling performances.
The Nationals logged yet another milestone by introducing female players in the second season. Bren Epro fielded an all-female squad for the Dota 2 tourney, while Bren Victress prodigy Kolin joined the black-and-yellow banner for the MLBB conference. While Bren’s Dota 2 team didn’t do well, their MLBB counterparts outclassed Smart Omega in the playoffs to cash in a second trophy in The Nationals. Truly, the league has proven itself as a safe space for everyone in the esports community.
Do you have any iconic esports moments in mind? Let us know in the comments section! Happy holidays, everyone!
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