League of Legends World Championships
No list of this ilk would be complete without Worlds, so I'm kicking off with it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0me_UsoAqI The League of Legends World Championship may be the most prestigious tournament in all of esports – it may not have the most prize money, but it certainly has the mass appeal. This year was perhaps the most exciting we've seen, as Western teams finally found themselves able to overcome and outplace the Koreans (and Chinese) teams that have dominated the esport for so many years. Fnatic making the finals, Cloud9 in the semi-finals, and a renewed hope for fans across Europe and North America; this year's Worlds was definitely one to remember.
I may be slightly biased, but I have never witnessed a crowd or atmosphere at an esports event quite like the one at CWL Birmingham. https://youtu.be/1l1ExQEiBfU?t=390 The first Call of Duty event to be held in the UK in around two years, fans came out in full force with the chants and passion you may only have seen elsewhere at the World Cup. Fans greeted Esports Awards' broadcaster of the year Clint "Maven" Evans with a "Shut up, Maven!" chant every time he spoke about a team that wasn't hometown-side Splyce, and sportsmanship rolled high when Splyce were beaten in the grand finals and Luminosity Gaming player Jonathan "John" Perez received the "MVP" chant. Although the results of the event weren't particularly exciting themselves, the camaraderie and atmosphere made CWL Birmingham perhaps the most fun event I will ever attend.
WCS Global Finals
The WCS Global Finals, and most importantly Serral's win, was a truly groundbreaking moment in StarCraft II. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0UBfmOJYO4 Serral, a foreigner (or non-Korean) has been a dominant force in SCII in 2018, and this culminated in the biggest win of his career, the greatest achievement in SCII, winning the WCS Global Finals. But what is so great about this is not that Serral overcame the odds and won – it's that he proved you don't have to be Korean to make it in the game and, on a larger scale, that limits are there simply to be broken. The inclusive nature of esports really allows a lot of barriers to be stripped down, and the Korean dominance in SCII was one that stood strong until Serral took matters into his own hands.
ELEAGUE Major: Boston
In yet another example of dominant regions being overthrown, the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Boston Major saw North America's Cloud9 take down European giants FaZe Clan 2-1, doing what would have once been seen as an impossible task. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDXqsYzltAo Each and every map was so intense; often coming down to the wire and both team looking like potential winners. Of course, everybody assumed the trophy was there for FaZe Clan to take – naturally, they had shown more ability than Cloud9 and were no strangers to the bright lights of a grand final. C9's win was unprecedented and unexpected, but it was the result of years of hard work in the NA region, finally out of EU's shadow. The grand final peaked at over 1.8m viewers, marking one of the greatest achievements in CS esports to date.