Wrapping up 2021: Top 8 esports highlights to look back on
Online gaming is a global phenomenon now known as the new era of entertainment. Its fast-rising competitive scene called esports solidifies its challenge and sophistication, further emphasising that it is more than just a leisure activity. Instead, it is a passionate profession for gamers and a profitable billion-dollar industry for software game developers and tournament franchisers.
While esports has a history of more than five decades — with the earliest recorded competition being in the early 1970s — it wasn’t until the early 2000s and 2010s that it achieved its hyper-competitive gaming environment. That is why despite the unfortunate COVID-19, many software game developers, esports organisations and franchisers proceeded with the highly anticipated tournaments.
With 2022 coming in very close, Bitcasino invites you to revisit its 2021 through the top eight most memorable esports moments. However, take note that the following points are not definitive as, of course, a lot has happened even in just a year.
#8: Merge between Galaxy Racer and Team Nigma
In late September 2021, Galaxy Racer and Team Nigma merged to create Nigma Galaxy. Altogether, Racer’s esports, content, and lifestyle brand combined with Nigma’s competitive expertise, whereas Nigma led the Racer’s esports division from Abu Dhabi. This is headed by Nigma co-founders, namely, Christoph Timm, Mohamed Morad, and Kuro ‘KuroKy’ Takhasomi.
The move has made the newly created Nigma Galaxy not only focus on their top-tier Dota 2 roster but also to recruit talents for other major esports games, such as League of Legends (LoL) and Valorant.
#7: Tims joined the BOOM Esports team
Like traditional sports, esports is filled with left-and-right-changing decisions that often leave game developers, fans, and tournament franchisers bewildered. For one was the disbandment of TNC Predator’s Dota 2 roster a month ahead of the game’s top-flight league The International (TI) 10.
TNC Predator’s breakup caused longtime team member Timothy ‘Tims’ Randrup to move to another Southeast Asian team named BOOM Esports permanently. While this was certainly a big adjustment for the two parties, it was an exciting time because he is best known for being one of the best and most reliable effective support players in the world. In 2019, he helped TNC win SEA’s second Major at MDL Chengdu Major.
#6: Fox took an indefinite break in CS:GO
When people say esports is a fast-paced industry, they don’t just refer to the hypercompetitive tournaments and thrilling gameplays. Instead, the brisk come and go of players and teams. Around late July, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) player Ricardo ‘fox’ Pacheco decided to withdraw his spot in OFFSET Esports’ starting lineup. He took an indefinite break from the multiplayer first-person shooter game.
Fox’s sudden exit was a big blow to OFFSET Esports. Not only was it because they have finalised their team’s gameplay and strategies, but also because he is among the most experienced players in the global CS:GO scene. Prior to his last team, he was a member of excellent squads like G2 Esports, FaZe Clan, and Team Kinguin.
#5: Reynor won IEM Katowice
Sponsored by American multinational tech company Intel, the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) is a series of international esports tournaments held in various countries across the globe. Its 2021 season had a few major surprising turns. Aside from the tournament format, QLASH player Riccardo ‘Reynor’ Romiti became World Champion in StarCraft 2.
Reynor made history by becoming the first-ever non-Korean to win the IEM Katowice event since its beginning in 2013. He finished the finals’ group stage in second place out of six players, navigating his superb performances through four different playoffs. In the grand final, he faced South Korean Joo ‘Zest’ Sung-wook and managed to dominate the first phase with a 3:1 and finished the run with a 4:2 final score.
#4: New CS:GO roster of Astralis
Founded in January 2016, Astralis is a Danish esports organisation best known for their CS:GO team. One quality that makes them at the pinnacle of their field is their reputation for a solid roster. Unlike other squads who have frequent changes, it was only in early November 2021 when Astralis made major additions, which are Danish players Benjamin ‘blameF’ Bremer and Kristian ‘k0nfig Wienecke and coach Alexander ‘ave’ Holdt.
#3: Return of JerAx in Dota 2 after a two-year retirement
After deciding to retire from Dota 2 two years ago, Finnish player Jesse ‘JerAx’ Vainikka came back on the scene and joined a new team. A former legend in OG, he now plays for Evil Geniuses (EG), known as one of the oldest and best North American pro-gaming groups.
JerAx is 2021’s highest-paid esports player, carrying a whopping $6.47 million. Out of the 900 games he played since 2013 and across more than 20 countries, his most notable feat is when he became the first two-time TI champion. It was stellar support play, especially his Tiny, that has helped his squad gain three wins in the Grand Finals.
#2: Venue changes of Dota 2 The International 10
No matter the level of prestige esports has reached and created, there will always be a recurring debate on whether or not it is a real sport. This was what Valve Corporation’s highly esteemed TI experienced in early July.
On May 12, 2021, Valve excitedly announced that TI10 would return in August 2021 in Ericsson Globe in Stockholm. Ranging from the increased prize pool, schedules of the Regional Qualifiers and up to the game’s newly released feature, almost everything was ready for the main event.
Sadly, all of the preparations were postponed, again, when the Swedish Sports Federation voted to reject esports into their organisation. Since TI was no longer an ‘elite sporting event’, which was a prerequisite for the competing players and staff to get visa exemptions during the pandemic, it moved to another venue. On July 8, 2021, Valve reported that it would move forward in Bucharest, Romania, known as the home of the Professional Gamers League (PGL).
#1: Team Spirit won TI10
It’s no secret that Western Europe, North America, and Asian teams lead today’s esports rankings. Yet lately, the impressive rise of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) region has proved the common conception otherwise. For instance, the unexpected yet glorious victory of Russian-Ukrainian esports underdog Team Spirit in TI10.
True to their name, Team Spirit won the event mainly because of their grit, teamwork, and major improvements they made. They worked their way up the ladder and became an unstoppable force that not even two-time finalist favourites PSG could handle. Surely, this underdog story will have you be more careful the next time you place bets here at Bitcasino.