The new year has begun, and with it, a plethora of countless esports events have appeared on the distant horizon. Before competitive gaming goes full steam in 2020, let's take a look back at the events covered by the Inven Global team in 2019.
LCK Spring Split
The 2019 LCK Spring Split kicked off mid-January, and South Korea saw a rise of new talent in DAMWON Gaming and SANDBOX Gaming in favor of faltering legacy teams Gen.G, Afreeca Freecs, and KT Rolster. Only SK Telecom T1 was able to retain proficiency amongst the new blood in the LCK, but would have to settle for 2nd place behind a surging Griffin, who finished the split with a 15-3 record.
LPL Spring Split
The 2019 LPL Spring Split was expected to be Invictus Gaming's victory lap after winning the 2018 World Championship, but a new challenger rose to steal the top spot in the standings. FunPlus Phoenix dominated the LPL, finishing in 1st place with a 13-2 record. Suning Gaming's new roster was hyped ahead of the split due to the addition of Flash Wolves Mid Laner Huang "Maple" Yi-Tang and Support Hu "SwordArt" Shuo-Chieh, but failed to qualify for the Spring Playoffs.
LCS Spring Split
The 2019 LCS Spring Split featured a tight three-team race atop the standings. When the dust settled, Team Liquid took 1st place with a 14-4 record. Cloud9 possessed the same record as TL, but held the losses in the head-to-head match as the defending LCS champion and settled for 2nd.
TSM's new roster finished in 3rd place at 13-5, and while FlyQuest, Golden Guardians, and Echo Fox also qualified for the Spring Playoffs, there was a clear gap between the top 3 teams and the rest.
LEC Spring Split
The 2019 LEC Spring Split saw Fnatic coming in as the top European team due to its 2018 Worlds Finals qualification, but it was G2's bizarre, brilliant new roster that stole the spotlight.
Luka "Perkz"Perković''s swap to the Bot Lane to make room for Rasmus "Caps" Winther paid off, and as the split continued on, Perkz grew into his new role more and more while retaining his unique identity of a Mid Laner background in the form of Bot Lane picks like Zoe and Syndra. G2 Esports finished in 1st place, and Fnatic would have to settle for 3rd after stumbling early on in spring. A rebuilt Origen secured the other Spring Playoff bye with a 2nd place finish.
The 2019 Overwatch League featured a very different look from the inaugural season. The GOATS meta lasted the majority of the season until a 2-2-2 role lock in Stage 4. OWL also announced it would enact its original plan to globalize in 2020, and featured three homestands to test games on the road.
Atlanta, Dallas, and Los Angeles were selected as the host cities, and Inven Global covered the latter two events, which were hosted by the Dallas Fuel and Los Angeles Valiant, respectively.
LCS Spring Playoffs
The 2019 LCS Spring Playoffs kicked off with two quarterfinals matches that saw TSM eliminate Echo Fox 3-1 and FlyQuest do the same to Golden Guardians 3-2. Team Liquid swept FlyQuest in the Semifinals, but TSM upset Cloud9 with a reverse sweep to face Team Liquid in St. Louis for the Finals. Tragically for TSM, Team Liquid reverse swept the Finals to win its 3rd straight North American title.
LCK Spring Playoffs
A strong second half of the Spring Split saw Kingzone DragonX secure the third seed for the 2019 LCK Spring Playoffs behind SKT and Griffin, with newcomers DAMWON and SANDBOX battling it out in the Wild Card match. DAMWON would survive a three-game bout to face Kingzone, but was promptly swept.
Not to be outdone, SKT swept Kingzone and moved on to face Griffin in the Finals, and won its first domestic title since the 2017 LCK Spring Split on back-to-back sweeps.
LEC Spring Playoffs
The 2019 LEC Spring Playoffs culminated in a surprise victory for Origen over Fnatic, shutting down the defending champion of Europe in a 3-1 win. Origen could not do the same to an unstoppable G2 Esports, who rode its regular split momentum to the first LEC championship without dropping a single game.
HCT World Championship
The Hearthstone Championship Tour's finale took place in Taipei in the form of the 2019 HCT World Championship. Nordavind's Casper "Hunterace" Notto came into the event as the favorite, and went on to live up to expectations in an epic 3-2 win over Raise Your Edge's Torben "Viper" Wahl.
LCK Summer Promotion Tournament
Just one split after qualifying for the 2018 World Championship as the LCK #1 seed, KT Rolster found itself in relegations after a 9th place finish in the 2019 Spring Split. Only Jin Air Greenwings finished below KT, and both teams were thrown into the pit with Korean challenger teams VSG and ES Sharks the first and second place teams, respectively.
KT and Jin Air would manage to survive the 2019 LCK Summer Promotion Tournament, with KT stepping on Jin Air's head in a 3-0 sweep before Jin Air saved itself against ES Sharks.
The 2019 Mid-Season Invitational featured LEC champion G2 Esports, LCK champion SK Telecom T1, and and LPL champion Invictus Gaming. LCS champion Team Liquid, 2019 LMS Spring Split champion Flash Wolves, and 2019 VCS Spring Split champion Phong Vũ Buffalo would round out the MSI Main Stage by qualifying through the Play-In.
The finals featured the four major regions, with TL defeating IG in shocking 3-1 upset and G2 triumphing over SKT in a 3-2 epic. In the first all-Western final in MSI history, G2 swept TL and secured its status as best team in the world.
Overwatch League All-Star Game
The second season of Overwatch League featured a mid-season All-Star break similar to the MLB, and select players from each division were voted in to compete in various events that made up the 2019 Overwatch League All-Star Game.
Collegiate League of Legends Finals
In the 2019 Collegiate League of Legends Finals, Maryville University won its second title in three years. Bot Laner Tony "Saskio" Chau was the Top Laner on the 2017 roster for MU' first college championship.
FlyQuest Career Fair
University of California, Irvine hosted LCS organization FlyQuest's career fair shortly after the concluson of MSI. UCI is known for its robust esports program and connections with local organizations in Southern California, and also featured various companies in the quad, including Inven Global.
LCS Summer Split
The 2019 LCS Summer Split saw Team Liquid and Cloud9 pull away from the pack, as a revolving door of Jungle issues plagued TSM from retaining its Spring Finals form.
TSM qualified for the 2019 LCS Summer Playoffs as the 4th seed ahead of Clutch Gaming and OpTic Gaming, and a resurgent Counter Logic Gaming secured 3rd place behind Cloud9 as Team Liquid finished in 1st place for a third consecutive split.
LCK Summer Split
SKT came back from MSI shaky due to a very small amount of time off before the start of the 2019 LCK Summer Split. With SKT finishing in 4th place, Griffin and DAMWON Gaming tied atop the standings at 13-5, but Griffin's superior win-loss differential landed the team in 1st place, where it had finished for all three of its LCK splits.
Kingzone DragonX faltered with health issues sidelining Mid Laner Heo "PawN" Won-seok and missed playoffs, with Afreeca Freecs and SANDBOX Gaming securing the 5th and 3rd seeds for the 2019 LCK Summer Playoffs, respectively.
Inven Global Esports Conference
2019 marked the second year of IGEC , and influencers, fans, students, and professionals aspiring established and alike gathered in the UC Irvine student center for a single day mega-event that featured multiple speakers and panels featuring experts in various aspects of esports.
Electronic Entertainment Expo 2019 featured an impressive showing from Nintendo, and while Microsoft was represented at the event, Sony was nowhere to be found. Developer Pearl Abyss also hosted its own event as part of E3 2019.
NA Academy League Summer Split
Starting in the summer, the NA Academy League began having regular split games in the LCS arena on Sundays after the broadcast of the 2019 LCS Summer Split. The partial broadcast of the 2019 NA Academy League Summer Split most likely served as a test run for the 2020 schedule, which will feature games of the 2020 NA Academy League Spring Split on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
Rift Rivals was split into two events across the globe: NA vs. EU and LCK vs. LPL vs. LMS vs. VCS. G2 Esports, Origen, and Fnatic traveled to Los Angeles, CA to smack Team Liquid, Cloud9, and TSM around, while South Korea's top 3 teams hosted the top 3 teams from China, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
CEO 2019 featured a massive bracket for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and would end up being one of many stops on Leonardo "MkLeo" Lopez Perez's run to the top of the leaderboards.
World Cyber Games
The World Cyber Games took place in Xi'an last July for the first time in five years, and featured a Dota 2 tournament. WCG will be returning for 2020, but dates and location have yet to be announced.
Fortnite World Cup
The 2019 Fortnite World Cup was held at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, NY and broke the prize pool record with a $30 million pot across the entirety of the event. Sentinels ace Kyle “Bugha” Reisdorff launched into superstardom after dominating the Fortnite World Cup Solo Finals.
For the first time ever, EVO 2019 did not feature Super Smash Bros. Melee as a main event. As a result, this led to the largest number of entrants for any game registered for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
In the end, it didn't matter how many competitors entered the tournament, as MkLeo continued to solidify his status as best in the world. EVO 2019 also featured exciting finales in Street Fighter V, DragonBall FighterZ, Mortal Kombat 11, and saw the rise of Tekken 7 as a premiere FGC competition.
LCS Summer Playoffs
The 2019 LCS Summer Playoffs saw the demise of TSM in the Quarterfinals at the hands of Clutch Gaming and CLG's swift sweep of OpTic Gaming. CLG was unable to triumph over C9 in the Semifinals and lost 3-1, and Clutch Gaming fought valiantly to take TL to 5 games, but lost after Silver Scrapes shook the LCS arena.
The LCS took the Summer Finals to Detroit, where Cloud9 and Team Liquid brawled in a bloody five-game clash. When the dust settled, Team Liquid was left standing, successfully defending its title by winning a fourth straight North American domestic title.
LCK Summer Playoffs
SKT's summer slump saw them battling a revitalized Afreeca Freecs in the Wild Card Match of the 2019 LCK Summer Playoffs, and the defending LCK champion won 2-1 and marched ahead towards SANDBOX Gaming, DAMWON Gaming, and Griffin. SKT reminded the LCK of its experience in best-of-five series, and swept both teams of youngsters out of the playoffs and rode its momentum to defeat Griffin 3-1.
LEC Summer Playoffs
The 2019 LEC Summer Playoffs started off with the continued rise of a young Rogue team. The Spring Split roster had finished 2-16, but the new, younger roster played masterfully around rookie Mid Laner Emil "Larssen" Larsson and upset Splyce in the Quarterfinals 3-0.
Fnatic and G2 had two five game epics throughout the playoffs, the first of which came in the Second Round as Rogue took on Schalke 04. G2 won by the skin of its teeth, but Fnatic was nowhere near ready to give up, and shut down Schalke 3-0 like it was an afterthought. G2 and Fnatic's Finals match would come down to a game 5, which after a back and forth rollercoaster of a series, went to G2 as it successfully defended its title from the old kings of Europe.
2020 LCK Spring Promotion Tournament
Jin Air Greenwings found itself relegated once again after another 10th place finish, this time with Hanwha Life Esports in 9th in place of KT Rolster for the 2020 LCK Spring Promotion Tournament. Team Dynamics — an augmented ES Sharks — and APK Prince, who sported veteran Korean Top Laner Jeon "ikssu" Ik-soo and Jungler Sung "Flawless" Yeon-jun on its starting roster.
APK Prince triumphed over HLE in its first match 2-1, and then went on to defeat JAG 3-1 to become the first team to escape the Promotion Tournament and qualify for the 2020 LCK Spring Split. Team Dynamics lost to both Jin Air and Hanwha Life, and Hanwha Life swept Jin Air out of the LCK after five full seasons.
2019 LCK Regional Finals
When SKT defeated DAMWON Gaming in the Summer Playoffs, both SKT and Griffin qualified for the 2019 World Championship. Because SKT won the Summer Finals match against Griffin, it secured the 1st seed for Worlds, and Griffin qualified as the 2nd seed. The 2019 LCK Regional Finals featured yet another gauntlet of series to decide the 3rd Worlds seed from South Korea's LCK.
Kingzone DragonX and Afreeca Freecs, who had each qualified for one domestic Playoffs but not both, fought it out in the first round. KZ defeated AF convincingly 3-1, and then went on to beat SANDBOX Gaming in the next round by the same score. All signs pointed towards the surging Kingzone DragonX, but the final boss of DAMWON Gaming shut things down with a narrow 3-2 win and became the first team to qualify for LCK and Worlds in the same season.
2019 LCS Regional Finals
FlyQuest missed the 2019 LCS Summer Playoffs with a miserable 10th place finish, but possessed enough circuit points from its top 4 finish in the Spring Playoffs to face off against Clutch Gaming in teh first round of the 2019 LCS Regional Finals.
Because Clutch Gaming had lost to CLG in the 3rd place match that preceded TL and C9's Finals showdown in Detroit, CLG had been seeded higher, with TSM serving as the final boss of the gauntlet due to its immense amount of circuit points from qualifying for the Spring Finals.
CG hit its stride at the right time of the year, looking nothing like the 9th place team of spring as it ended FlyQuest's season in a 3-1 victory. Sporting new jerseys to show the team's recent acquisition by Team Dignitas, CG danced around CLG and kept the pedal to the metal. In a 3-1 victory, Clutch showed that it had learn from its mistakes in its previous series with CLG only a few weeks prior.
CG had incredible momentum, but TSM had the pedigree of being the most elite team in North American history. Even with the new starting Jungler Mingyi "Spica" Lu, who was promoted from TSM Academy in Week 9 of the Summer Split, TSM was still a team to be respected and certainly looked better than the team who lost to Clutch in the Summer Quarterfinals.
TSM went up 2-0, but Clutch Gaming completed the miracle run with a tenacious reverse sweep and qualified for the World Championship as the 3rd seed from North America's LCS. Cloud9 and Team Liquid had qualified previously by winning their respective Semifinals matches in the Summer Playoffs, with Team Liquid taking the #1 seed after defeating Cloud9 in the Finals.
Overwatch League Playoffs
The Overwatch League Playoffs featured far more teams from the 2019 season than in the inaugural post-season. The top six teams, including Stage 1 and Stage 2 champions Vancouver Titans and San Francisco Shock, were seeded into the main bracket. Teams in 7th-12th place, including Stage 3 champion Shanghai Dragons, would have to compete in the Play-In bracket for the 7th and 8th spots in the main bracket.
Shanghai Dragons would fall short against London Spitfire 4-3, and Seoul Dynasty secured the final playoff seed by defeating Guangzhou Charge 4-1. Philadelphia Fusion did not make it past the first round and would not play in its hometown for the 2019 Overwatch League Grand Finals, and Chengdu Hunters also failed to win a series in the post-season.
Shock lost a surprising 4-3 series to Atlanta Reign, but made no more mistakes after that. In an utterly dominant losers bracket run to face Vancouver Titans in the Grand Finals, Shock defeated Spitfire, Los Angeles Gladiators, Hangzhou Spark, and New York Excelsior. Shock swept the Titans in the Finals...and everyone else. San Francisco's Overwatch team crowned itself champion with a 20-0 map run to finish the 2019 Overwatch League post-season.
League of Legends World Championship
The 2019 World Championship Play-In went about as expected, but even with Clutch Gaming in the main event, the LCS failed to get out of the Group Stage in all three attempts for the first time since 2015.
LPL #1 Seed FunPlus Phoenix, LEC #1 Seed G2 Esports, and LCK #1 Seed SK Telecom T1 were favorites for the tournament, and the final four teams ended up being the three aforementioned and rounded out by a surging Invictus Gaming, seemingly refusing to give up its throne by convincingly defeating an extremely sharp-looking Griffin 3-1. IG would go on to lose the all-LPL Semifinal against FunPlus Phoenix.
On the other side of the bracket, G2 Esports proved that its 3-2 victory over SKT in the 2019 MSI Semifinals was no fluke, repeating its victorious performance yet again but in even more convincing fashion by a score of 3-1. Despite a shaky Group Stage, FPX proved that G2 Esports should not have been evaluated as the favorite in the Grand Finals, winning in a 3-0 sweep and keeping the Summoner's Cup in China.
In addition to providing standard coverage of each stage of the World Championship, professional player Bae "Bang" Jun-sik joined Inven Global as a Guest Reporter for the majority of the event. Bang played for 100 Thieves in the 2019 LCS, and is the starting AD Carry for Evil Geniuses in the 2020 LCS.
At BlizzCon 2019, Team USA finally conquered its demons in the Overwatch World Cup and solidified its status as the best country in the world, defeating Team South Korea for the first time in OWWC history on its way to the championship.
NA Scouting Grounds
The NA Scouting Grounds took place for the fourth year since its inception just after the conclusion of Worlds 2019. 20 top Solo Queue hopefuls were drafted into Elemental Drake teams for the compound, with each team possessing staff members of LCS teams.
Players on Team Ocean Drake got to work with CLG and Team Liquid. Team Infernal Drake was staffed by Golden Guardians and newcomer organizations Immortals and Evil Geniuses. Team Cloud Drake was directed by Cloud9 and TSM, and Team Mountain Drake worked with FlyQuest, Team Dignitas, and 100 Thieves.
The ArcREVO World Tour concluded at ArcREVO America 2019. The event took place at UC Irvine in Mid-November, and featured the World Championships for BlazBlue: Central Fiction, BlazBlue: CrossTag Battle, and Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2.
Granblue Fantasy Versus was also featured at the event, and it was announced that the game would join the competitive circuit for ArcREVO 2020. Guilty Gear: Strive, the upcoming title of the two decades old franchise, was also previewed with its official title for the first time.
Lara Lunardi represented Inven Global at the 2019 Esports Awards in lieu of a nomination for Esports Publication of the Year, but also found the time to speak to some of esports’ biggest names like Dominique “SonicFox” McLean.
TSM Esports Industry Talk
TSM held a career-centric talk at UC Irvine before the holiday season, speaking to the students of the robust UCI Esports program on the various careers in esports and how to get started on achieving goals within those verticals.
League of Legends All-Star Event
Just like last year, the 2019 All-Star Event was held in Las Vegas for players to enjoy friendly competition with some true rest and relaxation after a long season. Players are often far more flexible, free, and relaxed in this environment compared to a competitive event, making for a weekend full of fanfare and bravado to send LoL Esports fully into the off-season.
TEPPEN World Championship
Capcom’s hit mobile card game made in tandem with Gung-ho, TEPPEN, held its inaugural World Championship in Tokyo, Japan last month. TEPPEN grew immensely popular throughout 2019, surpassing 4 million downloads by the end of the year.
The 2019 KeSPA Cup was the final esports event of 2019, and featured all 10 professional teams from South Korea’s LCK, as well as teams from Challengers Korea 2019 Summer and APK Prince, who qualified for the LCK through the 2020 LCK Spring Promotion tournament. The KeSPA Cup provides a first look at the updated LCK rosters, such as SANDBOX Gaming’s signing of Kang "GorillA" Beom-hyun, and concludes on January 5, 2020.
Check out the INVEN Esports Flickr to see more esports photography from both Inven and Inven Global.
If you are looking for investment opportunities in the esports industry, join our Inven Global Esports Investment Summit January 21st, 2020.