ESL celebrates 20 years of innovation as the esports and gaming giant looks to an exciting future

ESL reflect on 20 years of innovation and look to the future following huge community and brand portfolio growth 

Cologne, 02. November 2020: ESL, the world’s largest esports company, will this month celebrate 20 years of innovation and leadership in esports. Known for creating a world where everybody can be somebody, the company operates high-profile, branded international leagues and tournaments, as well as building the best esports stages and competitions for gamers worldwide. This month, ESL will take its community on a journey through the last 20 years to relive highlights and milestone moments in the company’s history.

ESL will be celebrating its 20 years anniversary with a series of content looking back over highlights and key milestones, culminating in a press conference with ESL’s founders and other special guest speakers on November 21st. Make sure to follow the company’s appearance on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Ralf Reichert, Co-CEO at ESL, said: “Over the past 20 years we’ve seen what started out as a humble passion grow from a few enthusiasts into a global movement across esports and gaming. We are proud to have reached this stage with ESL, and to bring fans, players, and partners closer to the action in all that we do. The future could not be more exciting and we at ESL will continue to bring innovation and creativity into the community to enable more people through their passion for gaming and esports to team up, compete, celebrate and be celebrated!”

In November 2000, ESL’s founders launched the ESPL as a project of Turtle Entertainment, quickly amassing 100,000 members and a reputation as leaders of the multiplayer gaming movement. From there, now-renowned titles such as Counter-Strike and Warcraft were quickly integrated and 2002 saw ESL Pro Series Season 1 kick off with Intel® Friday Night Games at Future Point Cologne – ESL’s first ever event complete with an €80,000 prize pot.

Fast forward to 2005 and ESL had gathered almost one million members, a figure that doubled by 2008 as the company opened offices in France, the UK, Scandinavia and Poland. Alongside that membership growth, ESL’s event portfolio quickly developed to take in the Intel® Extreme Masters, which brought competitive esports to fans across the world at events in Germany, New York, Dubai and more. By 2011, now with well over three million ESL members on board, the IEM World Finals drew a record 85,000 simultaneous spectators. Esports was rapidly growing across the world, and ESL was leading the charge.

But if those figures were impressive, what occurred over the coming years would cement ESL’s place as the world’s largest esports company. 2013 not only saw the inaugural IEM Katowice event – now a flagship tournament in the esports calendar – but it also marked the year in which ESL held events in all six continents. The following year, nearly 650,000 simultaneous spectators followed IEM Katowice while the company launched its first mega-event on German soil, ESL One Frankfurt, in a football stadium. 

The rapid growth showed no sign of stopping: ESL’s first US $1million prize came in 2015, ESL One Cologne brought in 14,000 spectators per day in 2016, PUBG was introduced to the community in 2017, while 2018 saw ESL One Cologne sell out Germany’s biggest indoor sports arena for the third time in a row!

Now, with the ESL Pro Tour, Intel® Extreme Masters, DreamHack Masters, ESL Pro League, and other preeminent, stadium-size tournaments under its belt, it’s safe to say that ESL has innovated the industry across broadcast, production and event experience across the world’s most prestigious esports brands and products. With ESL’s merger with DreamHack in Autumn 2020, further exciting developments are planned and the future looks even brighter.

For more information please visit or follow ESL on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.


About ESL Gaming

ESL Gaming is the world’s largest esports and gaming lifestyle company. Since 1994, the company has been shaping the industry and leading esports and gaming innovation on a global scale across the most popular video games with numerous online and offline esports competitions, and through premier gaming lifestyle festivals. The company operates high-profile, branded international leagues and tournaments under the ESL Pro Tour, including ESL One, Intel® Extreme Masters, DreamHack Masters, ESL Pro League, and other preeminent, stadium-size tournaments. ESL Gaming also produces and hosts DreamHack Open tournaments, ESL National Championships, grassroots amateur cups, matchmaking systems, and DreamHack’s gaming lifestyle festivals — which feature everything gaming under one roof. ESL Gaming is part of MTG, the leading international digital entertainment group. More information is available at

Contact us

EFG owns a portfolio of brands in different categories. We are leading the industry with numerous online and offline competitions, digital platforms as well as gaming lifestyle festivals.