In the year 2000, a group of gaming visionaries got together to start the Electronic Sports League in Cologne, Germany. With limited resources but lots of passion, this group of idealists chased their vision for two years until all the pieces fell into place for ESPL, now known as ESL, to expand.
Two years later, the ESL Pro Series was launched in partnership with Intel as the leading national esports league in Germany with LAN match days under the Friday Night Game banner. Local offline competitions were free from the perils of home internet connections and have always been the standard for top-tier competition, so putting the players in such an environment week-in, week-out was a must. For the spectator, this also meant being able to experience the action first hand. Thus, the ESL Pro Series was born. With support from Intel as a main sponsor, the league provided an €80,000 prize pool for Counter-Strike (5v5), Warcraft 3 (2v2), Nascar 2002 and Jedi Knight: Fallen Order (Capture the Flag).
To celebrate 20 years of ESL, we will delve deep into our history for each consecutive year starting from 2000, to understand the grassroots from which such a phenomenal industry was born.